LAMB prices climbed to a new national peak of $355 at Forbes’ Central West Livestock Exchange in New South Wales yesterday.
With top quality trade and light export weight lambs now pushing up to $11 a kilogram cwt in saleyards, Forbes Livestock and Agency Co auctioneer Randal Grayson sold 63 11 month-old White Suffolk cross lambs to a Thomas Foods International buyer for the record price.
The lambs from well-known Forbes district producers Chris and Sharon Petropoulos and son Isaac had an estimated carcase weight of 45kg and skin value of $5, bring them out at about $7.80 a kg cwt. They were part of a consignment of 341 Petropoulos lambs that averaged about $300 in the sale.
The $355 price results was just 80 cents higher than the previous record achieved by Landmark at the Wagga Wagga saleyards on June 20 this year. Since then, carcase weight prices for trade and heavy export lambs have continued to rise in the saleyards with the drop in national lamb supply.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest Eastern States Slaughter report said the NSW lamb turn-off last week was down 11pc on the previous week to 91,893 and nationally 7pc fewer lambs were killed week-on-week.
Mr Grayson said the result was impressive considering the Petropoulos lambs were finished on lucerne.
“They’ve never seen a grain in their life.”
He said he had never seen lambs as big as some in the Petropoulos draft.
“We sell a lot of big lambs at Forbes, but some of the lambs in this pen would have weighed up to 110kg.”
He said export lamb prices have been sneaking up in recent weeks, but the extra heavy weight lambs were still among the cheapest lambs on carcase weight value in saleyards. Mr Grayson said Forbes would normally be well into its sucker lambs by now, but many district producers ewes and lambs were being ‘hard-fed’ without the benefit of crops.
“Most of our suckers have been weaned early as low as 15kg liveweight or they have been on creep feeders with their mothers with not much in the paddock.”
Mr Petropoulos said $355 was “not a bad price, I suppose”, but he had told his agent he thought he had lambs that would make $350. Last year his dearest lambs made $300 in a week the market dropped $10.
“I said to Randal two weeks ago I’ve got some lambs there that will bring $350 and he goes ‘wake up to yourself, you won’t get $350…and he said to me today, you were right.”
Meat & Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service said the Forbes agents yarded 17,950 lambs, 100 fewer than last week, and 5500 sheep, 700 less.
The NLRS said quality was improved slightly from the previous sale. There was a better offering of trade and export lambs available along with a handy run of 2000 new season lambs. The usual buyers competed in the firm to dearer market, particularly on the better shaped and finished lambs.
Trade and heavyweight new season lambs sold from $225-$263. Old light lambs sold firm at $144-$164. Trade weights were $4-$5 better at $160-$235. Heavy lambs also sold $6 better and more in places, with lambs up to 26kg making $225-$260. The NLRS said extra heavyweight lambs held fairly steady at $262-$355. Carcase prices averaged 955-1020c/kg.
Mutton quality at Forbes continued to be mixed, though fewer light plain sheep were penned. Prices continued to be strong, with Merino ewes selling from $122-$217. Crossbred ewes made $127-$224 and Dorper ewes sold from $105-$174.
Dubbo lamb record reset at $349
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards, the Peter Milling and Company agency set a new centre record for lambs of $349.
A pen of 83 heavy weight crossbred lambs sold for the record price for Merriwa vendors, Ray and Annie Inder.
Mr Inder said he was pleasantly surprised at the price.
“We have been feeding them,” he said.
Mr Inder’s second draft of 29 lambs sold for $301. The $349 sale trumps the previous record of $344 set in September last year, which was also the national lamb price record until recently. A pen of heavy trade weight new season sucker lambs made $250 at the sale, top crossbred ewes sold to $220 and a pen of heavy, full fleeced Dohne ewes made $240.20.
The NLRS said Dubbo agents yarded 11,750 lambs, 5615 fewer than last week, and 6175 sheep, 1965 less. The overall plainer quality lamb yarding contained some outstanding heavy weight lambs.
There were fair numbers of Merino lambs, but fewer ideal trade lambs. A full field of buyers competed solidly.
Light weight lambs to the processors finished firm, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $95-$166. Trade lambs were $4-$11 dearer, with the 18-24kg lambs selling from $155-$255 to average 985-1,020c/kg cwt. A pen of heavy trade weight new season lambs sold for $250.
Heavy weight lambs were up to $13 dearer, with the 24-30kg lambs making $252-$290. Lambs over 30kg sold from $300-$349. Merino lambs were $7-$9 dearer, with trade weights making $160-$219. A pen of heavy weight Merinos sold for $225/head. Restocker lambs were dearer, making to $162, and hoggets sold to $226.
The NLRS said there were some very good sheep at Dubbo, along with fair numbers of plainer types in a mixed yarding where most grades sold $8-$11 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $75-$128. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds made $122-$220. Merino wethers sold to $208. Carcase prices for the better sheep ranged 595-645c/kg. Restockers paid $130-$148 for mixed age Merino ewes.