Higher mutton prices and the season dragged more sheep into NSW, Victorian and SA saleyards mid-week, but overall lamb supplies continued to fall in NSW, SA and WA as the dry weather set in.
The focus for fresh new season lambs has turned to Victoria, where Hamilton this week posted an 84 percent increase in its yarding to almost 15,000, and Horsham still managed more than 11,000, despite dropping over 5000.
Hamilton flush to be shorter and expected earlier
Hamilton is expecting its lamb flush to hit one or two weeks earlier than last year and will split its markets from next week until Easter next year, with lambs on Wednesday and sheep on Thursday. The extra Monday lamb sales will start on November 24.
Kerr and Co auctioneer Craig Pertzel estimated the new season woolly lamb turn-off into the Hamilton saleyards could be over by early December, rather than run into Christmas and the New Year as in a normal year. The new season lamb turn-off is one to two weeks earlier across south-west Victoria, he said.
“It will be a pretty hectic month or six weeks.”
He didn’t expect many south-west producers to put more than their own lambs away for later sale, though lambs were being shorn now onto failed crops, silage and pasture for marketing in late December and January.
“There might be a few more lambs shorn,” he said.
Mutton prices climb to 320 c/kg cwt
Across the saleyards, keen restockers continued to compete against processors for light and light trade lambs, while rates for medium and heavy trade, and heavy lambs were stronger for quality in the south, but slipped overall. Mutton prices continued to lift as processors paid more for heavy sheep, with rates hitting 320c/kg cwt at Hamilton and Bendigo.
After Thursday’s sales, MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator at 454c/kg cwt, down 4 cents, and the heavy lamb indice at 451c/kg, down 5 cents. The ES mutton indicator is at 307c/kg cwt, up 5 cents.
The national lamb indicators also reflected the confidence of restockers in securing numbers for sale before Christmas or early next year, the quality of trade and heavy lambs available and the likely numbers going direct to processors. The lamb indicators are: restocker 462c/kg cwt, up 3 cents; Merinos 407c/kg, no change; light 435c/kg, down 1c; trade 452c/kg, down 4c and; heavy 450c/kg, down 6c. The national mutton indicator is at 306c/kg cwt, up 4 cents.
National lamb supply eases as south-west Vic flush starts
After Tuesday’s markets, the NLRS reported that national lamb supply eased 6 percent week-on-week, to 114,433 head, as throughput declined 21pc in NSW to 27,930 and by 4pc in SA to 32,042. Consignments in WA were 18pc lower to 3700, while numbers lifted 4pc in Victoria to 49,661. National sheep supply fell 3pc to 38,650, largely due to throughput in WA declining 33pc to 5789 head.
Trade lambs cheaper at Carcoar
In NSW at Carcoar’s Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange on Wednesday, the agents yarded 10,500 lambs, 1250 more than last week, and 3800 sheep, 650 more.
The NLRS said it was another very good quality yarding. There were good numbers of trade and heavy weight new season lambs, and a few pens of well-finished old lambs.
The limited numbers of lightweight lambs were $2-$5 cheaper, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $62-$85. Trade lambs were $6 cheaper, with the 18-22kg 3 score new season lambs selling from $83-$115, to average 465c/kg cwt. Trade weight old lambs sold from $70-$104. Heavy weight lambs were $3-$4 cheaper, with the over 22kg new season lines making $100-$148. Over 22kg old lambs sold from $101-$138. Merino lambs sold at similar prices with trade weights selling from $70-$76. Hoggets sold to $90 and restockers paid to $102 for new season lines.
The good quality yarding of mutton had some good lines of well-finished Merino and crossbred sheep. Medium weight sheep were firm, while the heavy weight crossbreds were $4 dearer. The heavy weight Merino ewes and wethers were $9 dearer. The 3 and 4 score Merino ewes sold from $54-$96, while the crossbred ewes sold to $90. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $65-$102.
Dry lambs discounted at Goulburn
At the Goulburn saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2050 lambs, 350 more than last week, and 1200 sheep, 500 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed. Some new season lambs sold to strong competition and dry-skinned lines sold mostly to restockers. Trade weights were best-supplied and there were a few pens of heavy and extra heavy lambs offered. Light Merino lambs were also in reasonable numbers. The market trend remained similar to last week.
New season medium and heavy trade weights sold from $79-$111. The better lambs averaged around 460c/kg cwt, while the drier lambs averaged 410c/kg-420c/kg cwt. Heavy new season lambs reached $115. Light Merino lambs sold mostly from $44-$57 for the 2 scores and 2 pens of extra heavy old lambs reached $120.
Mutton quality was very mixed. The better-supplied medium weights were $2-$3 cheaper on average. Medium weight ewes sold from $54-$69 and heavy weights reached $75.40. The wether portion sold from $58-$78 and the heavy crossbreds made $85-$107. Most averaged 290c/kg-310c/kg cwt.
Best lambs firm, others down $3-$5 at Wagga
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 24,800 lambs, 6700 fewer than last week, and 18,800 sheep, 2800 more.
The NLRS said quality was very mixed, with greater numbers of lambs showing dryness and seed contamination. The usual domestic and export buyers competed in a market that fluctuated across all trade lamb categories. Secondary lambs suitable to restock and feed sold to slightly dearer trends for the well-bred drafts.
Light weight trade lambs were well-supplied and sold to sporadic competition from major domestic buyers. The fluctuating price trends saw the better-finished lambs equal last week’s prices, however the general trend was $3 cheaper. The better-finished light lambs averaged $100. Medium and heavy trade lambs were in greater numbers, with increased supplies of dry young lambs. Prices were $3 cheaper, to average 469c/kg cwt. Trade weight Merino lambs were in short supply and the better finished drafts suitable for the trade ranged from $80-$103. Heavy export lambs were in limited numbers and sold up to $5 cheaper. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold from $114-$131, with the extra heavy lambs averaging 428c/kg-449c/kg cwt.
Mutton quality was mixed, with all weights and grades represented. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were in reasonable supply, and prices increased $9. Trade sheep made from $66-$90 to average 328c/kg cwt. Heavy sheep were well-supplied and a northern processor dominated this category. Heavy ewe mutton made from $80-$110.60. Heavy wethers in a good clean skin reached a top price of $108, while other sales ranged from $68-$99 to average 326c/kg cwt.
Lot-feeders compete with processors at Hamilton
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 14,793 lambs, 6748 more than last week, and 7132 sheep, 1438 more.
The NLRS said the lamb and sheep yarding was of better overall quality. A large field of buyers kept prices equal to $2 dearer for the medium and heavy trade 3 to 4 score lambs.
They paid an estimated 450c/kg-460c/kg cwt for the good quality lambs, while local restockers and agents from the Riverina and some lot-feeders were very active against the processors, lifting the price of light and light trade weight 2 scores by $3-$5.
Light 2 score lambs made from $50-$65, while light trade weights made $66-$92. Medium trade 2 and 3 scores sold from $90-$110 and the heavy trade 3 to 4 scores ranged from $110-$125. Ten percent of the yarding was old lambs, selling from $70-$90, with one pen making $113, or an estimated 400c/kg cwt. Most averaged around the 350c/kg cwt mark.
The mixed weight range sheep yarding sold to very strong demand and was $10-$15 dearer, especially in the medium to heavy mutton weight ranges. The lighter sheep were firm on last week’s prices, averaging around 250c/kg cwt. Medium sheep made $55-$80 to average 280c/kg cwt, with the heavy weights from $75-$85. Heavy crossbred ewes sold up to $92. Prime Merino wethers sold to a top of $101, but mostly ranged from $68-$85, or 300c/kg-320c/kg cwt. Rams were back in price, with the best at $16, although some young rams did sell to $64.
Better quality lambs up $2-$3 at Horsham
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 11,507 lambs, 5277 fewer than last week, and 6498 sheep, 1734 more.
The NLRS said quality was average to good considering the dry conditions. The usual buyers operated in a firm to slightly dearer lamb market, with the better quality lambs $2-$3 up on last week.
Restocking activity was again very strong, with light lambs selling from $49-$66 and the heavier lots from $77-$96, up to $5 dearer than last week. The larger sheep offering included several pens of good quality heavy Merino and crossbred ewes, with all other weights and grades on offer. Competition was again keen with most Merino sheep selling $2 better and some of the crossbred ewes a little easier.
Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $66-$82. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $77-$100. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $92-$111, with the heavier drafts making $101-$120, or from 410c/kg-470c/kg cwt, to average around 450c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $116-$132.50, to average around 440c/kg cwt.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $44-$58. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $50-$90, ranging from 250cc/kg-320c/kg, to average around 290c/kg cwt. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $75-$99, with the heavy crossbred ewes making $68-$78. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $72-$94 with the medium weights selling from $58-$68 at around 300c/kg cwt.
Heavy Merino ewes sell to 320c/kg cwt at Bendigo
At the Bendigo saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 8556 sheep, 735 more than last week.
The NLRS said mutton quality was good, with most being heavier-conditioned Merinos and crossbred sheep. All the regular buyers attended, plus an extra export buyer from NSW competing strongly on the top lines of Merino wethers and ewes. Prices for heavy sheep gained another $2-$6, while the medium weight sheep were mostly firm on the improved prices of the previous week.
Prices for the medium trade weight sheep were mostly similar to the previous week, with just odd sales working out a few dollars easier. Most sales ranged from $60-$75. There was only limited numbers of light weight and plain sheep in the yarding, with most making $23-$50.
Several pens of heavy Merino wethers, mostly recently shorn with little skin value, sold from $78-$98 and averaged $90.50, generally working out an estimated 320c/kg-340c/kg cwt. The heavy pens of Merino ewes sold from $73-$99.60 and averaged about 320c/kg cwt. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $82-$97, improving to around 300c/kg cwt.
The NLRS said with the Hamilton saleyards splitting their sheep and lamb sales earlier this year because of the tight season in the Western District, there will be only one more Thursday mutton sale at Bendigo. After next week, the normal combined lamb and sheep sales will recommence on Monday, November 17.
Processors outbid restockers at Mt Gambier
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6351 lambs, 2403 fewer than last week, and 469 lambs, 92 more.
The NLRS said the good quality yarding of crossbred lambs sold to strong bidding from the usual trade and processor buyers. Restockers bid frequently, but failed to secure significant numbers.
The few light weight lambs sold to restockers for $57-$79, while light weight 3 score lambs to trade buyers lifted $9 to $94-$103, to average 467c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 score lambs lifted up to $13 to sell from $101-$115, averaging 477c/kg cwt, while heavy trade weights lifted $8 to $106-$125, to average 457c/kg cwt. Heavy weights lifted $8-$11, to make $122-$140, returning 457c/kg- 461c/kg cwt.
Hoggets sold from $64-$80. Prices for the large selection of heavy weight ewes were unchanged, selling from $68-$87 and most rams returned $10-$20.
Sheep prices up $10-$12 at Katanning
In WA at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 3400 lambs, 1443 fewer than last week, and 7567 sheep, 4424 less.
The NLRS said numbers dropped by a third with harvest underway. Ewe mutton made up the majority of the yarding with crossbred lambs, some shorn, in reasonable supply. Moderate numbers of Merino lambs and hoggets were also available.
Quality remained similar with large numbers of light-conditioned ewes and most lambs either light weight or in store condition. Low numbers, competition from a strong field of restockers and processors, with some selective live export demand meant all categories lifted in price.
Light and store lambs to restockers made $35-$81, up $5, while the Merino drafts made $35-$66.50. Light lambs to processors sold from $71-$93 to average about $80, to be $5 dearer. Trade lambs made $83-$100, up $10. Heavy drafts sold to a top of $120, with most lambs coming out around 475c/kg cwt. Shorn lambs sold well, with prices for better trade lambs up $6, at $90-$120.
Ewe prices were driven by solid restocker and processor competition. Light ewes made $30-$58, with 2 score ewes to processors up close to $10, at $50-$80, to average $66, or 295c/kg cwt. The 3 and 4 score ewes, including heavy weight drafts, made $63-$86.50, also $10 dearer, and close to 290c/kg cwt. Restockers were strong on suitable longer wool drafts, with sales from $62-$91, up by close to $12. Merino ewe hoggets made from $35-$77, with both processors and restockers active.
Wether prices were dearer for export weight drafts, with processors keen on young drafts. Heavy wethers made $77-$88, with live exporters paying $70-$80 for suitable lines. Restockers and feeders paid $45-$80 for store and lighter drafts, to be equal to last week. Ram prices were solid, with ram lambs to $90 and younger drafts to export feeders making $30-$60. Select drafts to live export made $68 and old drafts to processors sold from $10-$35.
Source: MLA, NLRS
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