Mutton prices surged above 450c/kg cwt for heavy sheep mid-week as supplies tightened in saleyards.
Despite one domestic buyer – Woolworths – not operating at some centres, prices for slaughter and restocker lambs also lifted in saleyards mid-week.
Restocker interest also helped lift rates for light and light trade lambs at Wagga.
At Cootamundra, heavy sheep sold for 430-440c/kg and others made more at times, with some sheep selling up to $20 dearer than last week. At Wagga, trade sheep made from $82-$129.20 to average 461c/kg cwt and wethers with good skins made from $135-$146.20 to average 413c/kg.
Cootamundra stock agent Steve Tolmie from Holman Tolmie Pty Ltd said the mutton price lift was due mainly to lack of supplies and not necessarily due to the return of processors to the market after maintenance work. Light sheep could be making more than reported rates, he said.
Mr Tolmie said the public holiday on Monday could also have affected the buying behviour of some processors.
NLRS lambs and mutton indicators lift
The National Livestock Reporting Service said the Eastern States Daily Indicator for restocker lambs lifted 29 cents after Thursday’s sales, up 29 cents, and light lambs rose 13 cents, to 569c/kg.
The other ESDIs for lamb are: Merino 548c/kg, up 4 cents; trade 586c/kg, up 4c; heavy 594c/kg, up 3c. The national trade lamb indicator rose 4 cents to 587c/kg and the heavy indice closed on 594c/kg, up 3 cents. The ES and national mutton indicators closed on 399c/kg, up 2-3 cents.
Cootamundra lambs up $5-$9, mutton to 440c/kg
In NSW at the Cootamundra saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6200 lambs, 3307 more than last week, and 4700 sheep, 500 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved, with a much better selection of trade and heavy lambs, and fewer lighter lambs. The usual buyers operated, but not all as consistently as last week.
The market trend was dearer $5-$9 over most lines. Light processing lambs ranged from $72-$102. The medium and heavy trades ranged from $112-$148 to range from 580-610c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold from $133-$168, averaging 605c/kg cwt. The extra heavy weights topped at $179.
Mutton quality improved. Competition was strong over all grades, but especially on the heavy weights. Prices were $7-$14 dearer on most. Medium weights sold from $73-$110. Heavy crossbred ewes reached $134 and Merino wethers made to $140, mostly from 380-410c/kg cwt. But strong competition on heavy weights lifted carcase prices up to 430-440c/kg.
Wagga’s heavy lambs average 617c/kg
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 29,500 lambs, 7600 fewer than last week, and 6700 sheep, 2100 fewer.
The NLRS said quality was mixed across the lighter weight categories. The usual buyers attended, but not all major domestic buyers operated. There were more store orders operating, with most grazing crops now established in the region. Trade lambs were in short supply, with very few genuine trade lambs offered.
Light trade lambs to slaughter averaged $121.60. Medium and heavy trade lambs sold to fluctuating price trends depending on quality and finish. The better finished types made from $140-$158 to average 602c/kg. Merino lambs were well-supplied and well-finished pens suitable for the trade made from $110-$144. Plainer light weight lambs to the processors sold to stronger competition making from $75-$115. The prospect of rain inspired increased local restocking competition, with prices in general lifting $10 and odd sales more. Well-bred lambs returning to the paddock made from $92-$120. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold to stronger competition, with the bulk of the heavy and extra heavy lambs selling from $160-$210. Heavy lambs averaged 617c/kg cwt, while the extra heavy pens averaged 587c/kg.
Mutton quality was mixed, with most of the sheep medium and heavy weights. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were well-supplied and competition strengthened due to increased buying competition in this category from most buyers. Trade sheep made from $82-$129.20 to average 461c/kg cwt. Heavy sheep were well-supplied with the heavy wethers igniting the bidding. Heavy wethers made from $135-$146.20 to average 413c/kg. Heavy ewes sold from $112-$145.60.
Hamilton’s heavy trade lambs $3-$5
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6812 lambs, 1643 more than last week, and 3087 sheep, 228 fewer.
The NLRS said all the regular buyers operated, except one domestic processor. Lamb buying activity was more subdued and there were fewer restockers and no SA agents operating.
However, some local restockers took the opportunity to buy lines as light lamb prices came back $3-$5. There were some good quality pens of medium trade lambs that sold firm to $2-$3 cheaper. The heavy trade lambs also sold $3-$5 cheaper.
Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $42-$100, and medium trade 2 and 3 score made from $102-$135, to average around 600c/kg cwt. The heavy trade and extra heavy 4 score lambs made from $139-$162, ranging from 580-590c/kg.
There was more inquiry for sheep in the overall dearer market, with light sheep firm and the medium and heavy mutton classes lifting $5-$8. Light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $45-$77, selling from 340-370c/kg cwt. Medium mutton, 2 and 3 score, sold from $75-$100 and the extra heavy cross bred 4 score ewes made from $93-$137, making 380-400c/kg. Merino wethers, 3 and 4 score, sold to strong competition, again making from $98-$118 and ranging from 420-430c/kg.
Horsham’s trade and heavy lambs firm
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6721 lambs, 1456 more than last week, and 646 sheep, 386 fewer than last week.
Lamb quality was average to good, with a limited number of heavy lambs. Trade weight and heavy lambs sold mostly firm, with the lighter trade weight lambs a few dollars dearer.
Feeders and restockers paid $42-$51 for lighter lots from $90-$116 for lambs. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $74-$98. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $94-$122. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $121-$136, with the heavier weights making $131-$152, or 550-620c/kg cwt to average around 590c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $149-$179, with the few pens of extra heavy lambs selling to $184. Merino lambs sold from $108-$123, with lighter drafts making $86.50-$115.
The smaller sheep offering sold to strong competition to be a few dollars dearer on last week. There were some large runs of lighter weight shorn young Merino wethers that sold to the trade from $46-$77.50.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $61-$85. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $73-$110, or 370-420c/kg cwt, with the Merino’s averaging around 400c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $99-$128 and Merino wethers in near full wool made to $129. Rams sold from $70-$119.
Ouyen heavy and trade lambs up to $6 dearer
At the Ouyen Livestock Exchange on Thursday, the agents yarded 10,477 lambs and 853 sheep.
Most of usual buyers attended, but one trade buyer was not operating. Heavy and trade lambs were firm to $6 dearer, and light trade weights and store lambs sold $5- $8 dearer. Mutton prices remained firm.
Export weight crossbred lambs sold from $134-$191.20, or 550-600c/kg cwt, and the trade weights made $118-$155, or 590-630c/kg. The store and light lambs sold from $62-$115, or 580-660c/kg.
Light Merino lambs sold from $60-$118 or 520-580c/kg and the heavy weights made $95-$131.60, or 510-560c/kg.
Light sheep sold from $62-$105 or 360-430c/kg cwt and the heavy lines made $100-$140 or 370-420 c/kg.
Mt Gambier lambs firm
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2120 lambs, 826 more than last week, and 117 sheep, 170 less.
The NLRS said there were fewer trade and processor buyers, with some restocker orders, and prices were generally firm across the market. Lightweight lambs to the trade ranged from $70-$93, while light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $99-$110, firm on last week. Restockers only purchased a small number of lambs at $86-$110. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $113-$135 at an average of 540c/kg cwt, $2-$4 dearer. The few heavy 4 score lambs sold firm at $123-$147.
Katanning competition solid
In WA at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5000 lambs, 5000 fewer than last week, and 6893 sheep, 420 fewer.
The NLRS said the mixed quality yarding was predominantly young store Merinos. Competition was solid from a full field of buyers and prices were firm on last week’s market.
Light store lambs sold from $20-$65, to average $48. Air freight lambs sold from $70-$95, to average $85. Crossbred lambs weighing 18-22kg cwt sold firm, from $70-$140, while similar weight Merino lambs made $65-$109, to average $101, up $5. Merino lambs sold to restockers from $70-$135. Prices for heavy lambs over 22kg rose again, to $155.
Mutton prices were firm on quality, with ewes with a fleece again selling extremely well. The light ewes made $15-$40. The 2 score processor mutton made $25-$90 and the better 3 score sheep made $68-$93. Restockers paid $49-$80.
Wether prices were equal to last week, with light weight Merinos selling from $35-$110. Export wethers sold from $80-$123. Processor wethers made $75-$138 and restockers and feeders paid from $25-$93. Rams remained firm with export rams making $60-$75. Processor rams sold for $15-$75 and ram lambs made to $117.
Source: MLA, NLRS, Holman and Tolmie, AuctionsPlus.