New season lamb prices lift in NSW as domestic demand for quality intensifies

Sheep Central, July 29, 2015
These April-May drop 16.4kg cwt first cross wether lambs sold for $108 at Coonamble, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These April-May drop 16.4kg cwt first cross wether lambs sold for $108 at Coonamble, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

New season lamb prices improved up to $12 early this week as domestic processors and buyers competed strongly on more sucker drafts in New South Wales and South Australian saleyards.

The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted trade weight, 18.1-22kg cwt, new season lambs at Forbes, Corowa, and Tamworth as selling consistently above 614c/kg cwt and up to 670c/kg, and lines above 22.1 kg also made better than 604c/kg at the centres.

Agents said buyers, led by the supermarkets, turned to NSW and SA saleyards on Monday and Tuesday for most of their supplies, due to the smaller offerings in Victoria.

At Corowa on Monday, the 16.1-18kg new season lambs ($8 skins) made $102-$125 or 553-650c/kg, the trade weights ($1-$8 skins) sold from $140-$155 or 632-680c/kg and the 22.1-24kg lambs ($8-$9 skins) made $155.20-$159.20 or 609-630c/kg.

Tamworth’s 18.1-22kg suckers ($8 skins) sold from $140-$150 or 614-670c/kg and the 22.1-24kg lambs ($8 skins) made $152 or 626c/kg.

At Dubbo on Monday, 12-18kg suckers ($6-$10 skins) sold from $100-$108 or 577-627c/kg, the trade weights ($1-$11 skins) made $114-$149 or 541-648c/kg and the 22.1-26kg lines ($11-$12 skins) ranged from $140-$154 or 538-596c/kg.

On Tuesday at Forbes, new season lambs up to 18kg cwt with $6-$8 skins made from $75-$113 or 560-723c/kg, the trade weights with $8-$9 skins sold from $125-$142 or 614-633c/kg and the 22.1-26kg suckers with $1-$9 skins ranged from 604-657c/kg.

At Bendigo on Monday, new season lambs up to 18kg with $3-$6 skins sold from $65-$106 or 450-588c/kg, the trade weights with $8-$10 skins made $121-$144 or 565-638c/kg and the 22.1-26kg lines with $10 skins ranged from $145-$160 or 594-644c/kg. Ballarat’s 16.1-20kg suckers with $6-$8 skins made $111-$120 or 560-583c/kg.

At the SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, new season lambs up to 18kg with $4-$8 skins sold from $60-$126 or 441-700c/kg and 22.1-26kg lines with $7-$10 skins made from $140-$170 or 578-640c/kg. Naracoorte’s trade weights suckers with $7 skins sold for $128 or 637c/kg.

In Western Australia at Muchea’s saleyards on Tuesday, 12.1-16kg suckers with $1-$2 skins made $68-$80 or 515-523c/kg and the trade weights with $1-$3 skins sold from $90-$112 or 435-555c/kg.

Suckers make up third of Forbes lamb offering, less at Dubbo

About a third of Forbes lamb yarding was new season lambs this week with stock agent Luke Whitty attributing the lift in demand to low numbers in Victoria.

“Woolworths and Coles very strong and aggressive on the trade lambs, but the biggest factor is that there are not many lambs in Victoria and maybe a bit of wet weather around as well.”

Exporters were fairly strong down to 22kg, but not for lighter lambs, he said.

At Dubbo, new season lambs made up about 10pc of the yarding, but stock agent Angus Barlow said the suckers coming through now were sappy and coming off good crops about a month earlier.

“There is no real need to push them out the gate because there is plenty of feed in front of them, so things are looking pretty good.”

Mr Barlow said some companies might be coming to the end of their contracted lambs.

“I think we are seeing that and hopefully that might bounce the job a fair bit more in the next few weeks.”

Bendigo sucker numbers due end of August, but rain needed

Elders Bendigo livestock manager Nigel Starick said lamb buyers were discerning on quality in new season and old lamb lines. He said even very light suckers were making “huge money” with domestic buyers and supported by light lamb exporters. Some new season lambs were coming into Bendigo from the north, but the first main flush of district new season lambs was still about 3-4 weeks away.

“I reckon by the end of August that’s when we will start to seeing a few numbers.”

Many Bendigo district producers were planning to turn their first new season lambs off at around 21-22kg for 600c/kg, he said.

“They (domestic buyers) will handle them at 18-23kg, but we will try to aim at 21-22kg just to make it worth it.

“If it is only a matter of three weeks to get them up to weight and it’s going to be similar money, I hope they can wait a little bit,” he said.

“But if they are ready to go now, they’re gone and we can look at doing something else if we do get a spring.”

Mr Starick said the region has had “a bit of rain”, but much more was needed for a good spring.

Over-the-hook lamb rates mostly firm

The NLRS this week quoted NSW’s over-the-hook crossbred lamb rates as mostly steady on last week’s levels at 500-600c/kg, while Merino lambs lifted an average of 8c/kg cwt to 430-530c/kg. The light weight mutton indicator was unchanged, while medium and heavy mutton indicators declined slightly week-on-week.

In Victoria, the over-the-hook rates were steady on week-ago levels, with the trade lamb indicator at 603c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were also unchanged, as the medium weight category averaged 360c/kg cwt.

In South Australia, the over-the-hook lamb rates were firm week-on-week, with trade weight lambs averaging 587c/kg cwt. The light weight mutton indicator lifted marginally, while medium and heavy weight indicators were unchanged.

Tasmania’s OTH rates for lamb and mutton were quoted as unchanged. The Western Australian rates were unavailable when this report was published.

Main NLRS slaughter lamb indicators lift

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS quoted its Eastern States Daily Indicators for trade and heavy lambs as up 6-7c/kg and good offerings of Merino lambs helped lift that indicator 12 cents.

The ESDIs for lamb are: restocker 526c/kg, no change; Merinos 538c/kg, up 12 cents; light 520c/kg, down 9c; trade 585c/kg, up 6c; heavy 593c/kg, up 7c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted 5 cents to close on 584c/kg and the heavy lam indice is on 593c/kg, up 7 cents.

The ESDI for mutton is on 378c/kg, down 1 cents and the national indicator finished on 377c/kg, down 2 cents.

Dubbo new season lambs average 610c/kg

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards, the agents yarded 28,700 lambs, 950 fewer than last week, and 5165 sheep, 1735 less.

The NLRS said it was a pretty good quality yarding, with a good selection of trade and heavy weight lambs, and some top runs of well-finished new season lambs and Merinos.

Light weight lambs were firm to $3 cheaper with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $66-$103. Trade lambs were $2-$5 dearer, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $86-$146 to average 598c/kg cwt. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $114-$154 to average 610c/kg. Heavy weight lambs were $5 dearer with the over 22kg 4 scores making $133-$187. Merino lambs were $6 dearer with the trade weights selling from $92-$132, while the heavy weights over 22kg sold from $126-$157. Restockers paid to $108 for lambs to fatten and hoggets made $134.

It was a mixed quality yarding of mutton. Light and medium weight sheep sold $2-$4 cheaper and the heavier weights were up to $9 easier. The 2 score ewes sold from $30-$78, while the better medium and heavy weights sold made $70-$130 for woolly Merinos and to $125 for crossbreds. Heavy weight Merino wethers sold from $104-$130.

Corowa trade weights $2-$3 dearer

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 8972 lambs, 1090 more than last week, and 3358 sheep, 754 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality varied. There were good lines of heavy trade weights and light Merino lambs were in reasonable numbers. There were a few more pens of new season lambs but numbers still remain limited. Not all the usual buyers operated in a market where the better quality lambs were dearer. Secondary and Merino lambs were cheaper.

New season trade lambs sold from $140-$159 to range from 630-670c/kg. Light processing lambs sold from $70-$104. The medium and heavy trade weights were generally $2-$3 dearer at $108-$148 to average 595c/kg. Heavy lambs gained $4 and ranged from $142-$169. Extra heavy lambs over 26kg sold from $171-$195, or 545-600c/kg. Light Merino lambs sold from $68-$84 and trade weights made $92-$129, or 480-520c/kg.

Mutton quality remained mixed, with some very heavy sheep and plainer Merinos yarded. Plainer sheep sold to a cheaper trend and the better covered 3 and 4 score mutton sold stronger. Medium weight ewes ranged from $74-$128, averaging around 360c/kg cwt. Heavy crossbreds reached $149 and the best of the Merino wethers made $129. The better covered sheep made 400-430c/kg cwt.

Tamworth suckers $5-$12 dearer

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 2000 fewer than last week, and 1000 sheep, 500 less.

The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was mixed, comprising a good selection of trade weights and a fair supply of heavy weights. Quality and weights improved in some grades. The usual buyers attended and demand was stronger. Market trends were mostly dearer, but some secondary quality trade lambs struggled to maintain prices.

Well-finished young lambs sold $5-$12 dearer to the trade. Good quality trade weight lambs sold $2-$3 dearer. A good quality penning of heavy weights sold up to $9 dearer, with increased weight adding to price increases.

The small penning of sheep included some good quality lots of both ewes and wethers. Market trends were also dearer.

Forbes new season lambs lift $8

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 27,500 lambs, 6708 fewer than last week, and 6450 sheep, 1326 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was fair, with a good offering of well-finished lambs and some plainer types. Most were heavy and extra heavy weight lambs. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market. There were 8900 new season lambs were mostly in good condition and well-finished.

New season trade weight prices lifted $8 to $138-$157. Heavy weights sold from $150-$163.

Old light lambs sold from $107-$110 and the trade weights were $3-$5 better, at $118-$157. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were generally $4-$6 dearer, but lifted up to $10. Heavy lambs made $145-$162 and extra heavies sold from $154-$195. Carcase prices ranged from 578-620c/kg. Merino lambs attracted strong competition with prices ranging from $120-$154.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was mixed. Prices remained strong, with Merino ewes selling from $82-$126. Crossbreds ranged from $78-$129. Merino wethers sold from $78-$147.

Bendigo trade lambs up to $9 dearer

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 9752 lambs, 340 more than last week, and 8998 sheep, 333 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality remained very mixed, reflecting the winter conditions. This was a factor in some of the varied price results. About 1000 new season young lambs were yarded.

The better presented pens of export and trade weight lambs were mostly unchanged to dearer in places, while secondary kill lambs under 16kg were generally cheaper. The market reached a top of $181 for heavy export lambs, while the best of the new season lambs off irrigation made to $160. A big line of heavy Merino lambs in a $20 skin, sold for $169.60. A good percentage of the yarding comprised light weight lambs in plain fat score 1 and 2 condition, which sold to processors for $50-$95. Odd pens of very small and secondary lambs sold down to $15.

Competition for trade weight lambs was solid, with crossbred lambs in the 20-22kg range recording the best price increase of the sale of up to $9. The general run of trade weight slaughter lambs sold from $114-$135, while heavier pens suiting supermarkets and other top-end domestic orders made from $140-$160. In carcase terms, the better quality kill lambs made 550-590c/kg, with just select pens over 600c/kg.

About 1000 new season lambs were offered, and even at this early stage of the selling season, weight and finish declined fairly quickly. One stand-out pen off irrigation and expected to weigh about 24kg cwt sold for $160. The next run of domestic slaughter lambs sold from $132-$155. These lead drafts made an estimated 612-617c/kg. Light weight new season lambs sold from $45-$121, with odd pens selling to restockers. The average price for new season lambs sold this week was $106.

Sheep numbers remained similar amid reports the tough season has prompted some farmers to wean lambs early and sell old ewes. A good selection of recently shorn Merino and crossbred ewes was offered. Prices for heavy sheep remained similar to a week-ago, while plainer and lighter types trended cheaper. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $90-$135. Restockers paid to $127 for young woolly Merino ewes to go back to the paddock and heavy Merino wethers sold to $126. Most mutton sales were within a range of 340-400c/kg cwt.

Ballarat trade weight lambs sell to $154

In Ballarat on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4913 lambs, 2205 fewer than last week, and 4612 sheep, 1786 more.

The NLRS said a plain to average yarding was offered to most of the usual buyers, although not all were fully active.

Several pens of better presented trade weight and heavy lambs sold to exporters and domestic orders, firm to a few dollars dearer, with the lighter plainer types a little easier this week. Feeders paid from $95-$110, with a few pens of lighter weights going to restockers from $29-$48. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $75-$89. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$114, and averaged around 560c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $118-$154, from 540-630c/kg to average around 580c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $148-$184, to average around 580c/kg cwt. Some well-presented Merino lambs made $110-$117.50.

Sheep quality improved. Reasonable numbers of sheep are being yarded as producers struggle for water. Light sheep sold $2-$3 dearer, while heavy sheep were a few dollars easier. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $121, at around 400c/kg cwt. Restockers paid $38-$59 for young shorn Merino wethers.

Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $52-$76, with very light 1 scores making $12-$48. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $68-$96, or 290-410c/kg, averaging around 375c/kg cwt for Merinos. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $75-$114. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $110-$121 and the medium weights made $72-$105. Rams of all weights made from $24-$88.

Dublin trade weight suckers lift $12 to average 607c/kg

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,304 lambs, 330 fewer than last week, and 2093 sheep, 1100 more.

The NLRS said the generally better quality yarding of lambs sold to stronger competition from a full gallery of trade and processor buyers. The highlight of the sale was the demand for the estimated 2500 good quality new season lambs. Feeders and restockers operated only occasionally on mainly the light weight new season crossbreds and woolly Merinos.

Feeders bought ultra-light weight, new season lambs from $60-$94. Light weight 4 scores sold to trade buyers for $11-$13 more at $104-$126, or 630-640c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $12 to $120-$149, to average 607c/kg.

Light weight old crossbred lambs sold to processors from $80-$105. Demand was strong for the scarce light trade weight 4 scores and they sold from $124-$140, to average 575c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted $6 to $120-$148 and averaged 563c/kg. Heavy weights lifted up to $11 to $150-$184, or 572-599c/kg.

Woolly Merino lambs sold to restockers for $91-$117 and light weights went to processors for $80-$104. Trade weight 3 scores were in demand, selling from $95-$118 to average 481c/kg and heavy weights prices remained unchanged at $135-$148.

The mixed quality sheep sold to erratic processor bidding. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $47-$68, to average 326c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes lifted $3 to $80-$113, to average 317c/kg. Heavy weight 3 score wethers lifted $7, selling from $90-$121 and averaging 348c/kg. Heavy weight rams eased $14 to sell from $60-$90.

Naracoorte’s best lambs make 550-580c/kg

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1209 lambs and 592 sheep.

The NLRS said demand was best for better quality lambs and those with the current declaration forms while plain quality and those with the old forms were discounted by at least $10.

The NLRS said sheep and lamb quality varied from plain to good. The current buyers competed fully, while restockers were quiet or operated only moderately.

The light weight 2 score lambs made $51-$86, while light trade weight 2 and 3 scores sold from $75-$100. The medium trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $103-$125 and the heavy 4 score lambs made $125-$155. Lambs generally ranged from 495-580c/kg cwt with the better quality making 550- 580c/kg. One pen of new season lambs estimated to weigh 19kg with a $7 skin sold for $128.

Sheep sold to mostly steady competition. Light weight 1 score sheep made $35-$60, medium weight 2 and 3 scores sold from $70-$85 and the heavy 3 and 4 scores ranged from $87-$110. Most ranged from 310-355c/kg cwt. The rams mainly sold from $36-$66, though a large run made $70.

Muchea lamb prices improve

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8175 lambs, 3517 more than last week, and 5614 sheep, 2014 more.

The NLRS said pasture feed pressures lifted numbers, with more store and light weight Merino lambs offered. Overall quality improved, with some good prime lambs, although most drafts were secondary and light weight. Buyer activity from all markets saw most prices improve for lambs.

The small number of lighter weight new season lambs offered sold from $45-$112. Light weight store lambs, mostly Merinos made $25-$60, Light lambs suitable for air freight processors and feeders sold from $60-$91, to be $2-$7 dearer. Trade lambs made from $79-$119, with most close to $6 dearer. Heavy lamb made to $123 to remain close to firm.

Prices lifted for all categories of wethers and ewes. Ewe prices lifted largely due to increased weight, with larger numbers of heavy 3 and 4 score ewes available. Light weight ewes made $36-$52 and the 2 score processor mutton from $45-$76. Heavy weight ewes sold from $75-$108, with most Merinos making $78-$102, or 306c/kg cwt. Restockers were active on younger drafts at $48-$98. Wether prices lifted slightly with increased feeder and restocker interest. Heavy export weight drafts made $80-$112 to processors and feeders and the lighter drafts went mostly to restockers at $67-$95 to be slightly dearer. Ram prices were driven by solid export demand and lifted around $5. Ram lambs sold to $111, with suitable young drafts to live exporters and feeders making $40-$85. Old rams sold to processors for $36-$55.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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