LAMB prices fell nationally in saleyards early this week as more new season lambs came onto the market.
The National Livestock Reporting Service recorded an increase in domestic buyer demand, but less export enquiry, with heavy and extra heavy weight lamb prices falling by up to $22 in New South Wales markets.
New season trade lamb prices were up to $17 cheaper in NSW and generally $5-$10 cheaper in Victorian saleyards, and more for medium and heavy weight old lamb drafts.
Restockers were active in Victoria and at the South Australian Livestock Exchange in Dublin, they lifted light young lamb prices by up to $17.
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Continuing the falling trend in the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for the past week, except for restocker lambs, the ESDIs for the lamb categories after Tuesday’s saleyard sales were: restocker, 612c/kg, up 3 cents; Merino 548c/kg, down 12c; light 596c/kg, down 1c; trade 594c/kg, down 1c; heavy 574c/kg, down 4c.
Mutton prices also fell nationally early this week, with the ESDI for mutton closing 11 cents down to 426c/kg on Tuesday.
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 32,450 lambs, 4950 more than last week, and 10,300 sheep, 300 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was back a little, with fewer extra heavy weight lambs, but a pretty good selection of trade weights. Merino, Dorper and light weight store lambs were also well-supplied.
Light weight lambs sold firm to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $77-$112.
Trade lambs were $12-$17 cheaper, with the trade weight new season lambs making $107-$145 to average 565c/kg cwt. Trade weight old lambs sold from $198-$138. Trade weight Merino lambs were $5-$8 easier at $102-$137 and the heavier weights were up to $20 easier and sold to $149.
Most heavy weight lambs were $8-$15 cheaper and extra heavy weights sold up to $22 easier. Over 22kg 4 scores sold from $126-$195 to average 560c/kg. Hoggets sold to $130.
There were some outstanding sheep and some plain sheep in the mixed yarding, with most mutton grades finishing $3-$5 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $65-$86. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos made $80-$156 and the crossbreds sold to $147. Outstanding Merino wethers sold to $176.50.
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 10,840 lambs, 4907 more than last week, and 4070 sheep, 1704 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained good, but the market was cheaper. There were more domestic buyers, but exporters were selective on the heavier weights.
New season lamb numbers lifted to 5398 and most weighed 20-24kg cwt. Old lambs were still well-supplied and consisted mainly of trade and heavy weights, with a small run of extra heavy weights. The number of Merino lambs increased.
New season trade lambs fell $12-$16 to $115-$144. Heavy weights lost up to $18 to range from $144-$169. Carcase prices ranged from 570c/kg for the heavy weights up to 615c/kg on average for the trade weights.
Old trade weights were $16-$18 cheaper at $108-$134, heavy old lambs made $128-$165 and extra heavy weights sold to $170. Carcase prices averaged 530-570c/kg. Merino lambs were not as affected and sold from $108-$137.
Mutton sheep quality remained good, with plenty of well-covered sheep offered. Prices eased $10-$15 and the heavier sheep were most affected. Medium weight ewes sold from $81-$117. Heavy crossbred ewes made to $120 and Merinos with a good fleece sold to $125. Most carcase prices averaged 380-400c/kg.
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3500 lambs, 1500 fewer than last week, and 2000 sheep.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to very good, with heavy and extra heavy weights well-supplied. There was a small penning of new season lambs. The usual buyers attended.
Demand was weaker through most classes, resulting in cheaper price trends for many grades. Well-finished trade weight lambs were least affected. Some secondary quality and Merino lambs remained firm.
Prices for heavy and extra heavy weight lambs trended $12-$14 cheaper due to weaker export demand.
Despite the well-finished sheep penned, market trends were considerably cheaper in all classes, with only weight and skin values having a positive effect on averages.
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 34,200 lambs, 13,500 fewer than last week, and 8300 sheep, 1265 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair, with a good number of well-finished lambs offered. Agents offered 12,850 good quality new season lambs, with most well-finished. The usual buyers competed in the cheaper market.
New season lambs sold firm to $3 easier. Trade weights sold from $123-$149. Heavy and extra heavy weights made $143-$162, averaging 600c/kg cwt.
Old light lambs eased $2 to $104-$113. Trade weights were $4-$6 easier at $109-$125. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were $3-$6 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $130-$140 and extra heavy weights made $135-$147. Carcase prices averaged 550c/kg.
Mutton sheep quality was similar to previous sales. Prices decreased significantly, with Merino ewes selling from $84-$150. Crossbreds made $78-$123 and Dorper ewes $82-$92. Merino wethers sold from $84-$123.
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 12,103 lambs, 6195 more than last week, and 4179 sheep, 2217 more.
The NLRS said lamb numbers doubled as the build-up in young lamb supplies begins, with about half the yarding estimated to be new season lines. Young lamb quality was very good, with most showing good finish and weighing upwards of 21kg. All the regular buyers attended and there was increased interest from some processors which had been quiet at recent sales.
Bidding for young lambs fluctuated, opening strongly before easing. Prices for young lambs were mostly $5-$10 lower, with the heavier drafts above 22kg most affected. Young lambs sold to a top of $176 for a pen estimated at around 27kg. It was one of three sales over $170. The main drafts of trade weight young lambs sold from $132-$165. There was a wide spread in carcase prices. An estimated range of 590-630c/kg covered most sales, although there were much higher results at times. An agent from Horsham bought the major lines of light weight young store lambs at $99-$109.
The yarding of old season lambs was very mixed, with a lot of smaller lots as farmers sell the last of their old stock before the spring. Prices for old season lambs weakened, particularly over the heavy weight and secondary lots. The old lamb section recorded a top of $180 for extra heavy lambs over 32kg. Buyers picked through the old lamb offering, with any lines of well-finished trade weight types in shorter skins selling to the best demand. There was also a wide carcase price spread in this section of the market, influenced by weight, quality and numbers in a pen.
Sheep numbers also doubled as more ewes and wethers were sold off-shears. Prices averaged within a few dollars either side of last week, with the main lines of Merino mutton averaging above 400c/kg cwt. Extra heavy crossbred ewes sold to a top of $150, while a big run of shorn Merino wethers estimated at around 34kg sold for $134.
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5887 lambs, 2190 more than last week, and 3632 sheep, 1630 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed and there were fewer buyers, with a limited domestic presence and a heavy sheep processor absent.
The few pens of new season lambs included light-medium trade weights that made $115-$135, averaging an estimated 610c/kg. There were also some well-finished old lambs in most agent’s runs. The processors were selective in the weaker market.
Prices for most lambs were $5-$10 cheaper, and more in places for medium and heavy weight old lambs. Light lambs sold unchanged up to $5 lower.
Merino lambs attracted more interest, with the best sales at $104-$119. Restockers paid mostly $80-$131 for store lambs. Light weight 2 score old lambs sold from $85-$105 and light trade weight 2 and 3 scores made $103-$130, averaging close to 600c/kg. Medium trade weight 3 score old lambs sold from $123-$135 and heavy trade weights made $132-$144, or 554-610c/kg to average an estimated 560-580c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $140-$179 at 520-540c/kg. Heavy hoggets sold from $110-$132.
More shorn ewes and wethers were offered in the good to average quality sheep offering. Prices were also generally $5-$10 easier, with less demand from buyers. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $50-$83. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $80-$115 and Merino ewe mutton averaged an estimated 390c/kg.
Heavy Merino wethers sold from $113-$118 and medium weights made $82-$104. Restockers purchased a pen of 142 Merino wethers for $98. Heavy crossbred sheep sold from $80-$125 and rams made $67-$141.
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8000 lambs, 3000 more than last week, and 1500 sheep, 700 fewer.
The NLRS said quality diminished substantially in the offering to the usual trade and processor buyers and restockers.
Light young lambs sold mainly to restockers at prices up to $17 dearer than the previous sale; however, rates ease $5-$25 for the balance of the offering. Quality was the main issue throughout the offering and heavy rain overnight and during the sale did not improve presentation.
New season lambs over 12kg eased by up to $10, with the heavier weights back by $5-$10 within the poor to average quality selection. Prices for the poor to average quality older lambs were also back by $5-$20. Light young lambs sold from $56-$80, medium weights made $74-$118 and heavier lambs sold for $120-$136. Light older lambs made $50-$130, medium weights sold from $80-$136 and trade weights sold for $80-$174. The few lambs on offer over 26kg made $132-$168. More hoggets were offered, but they lacked quality and sold $10-$15 cheaper. Hoggets of all weights ranged from $60 up to $138 for lines in full wool.
Ewe mutton was also affected by the downturn and prices eased $10-$15. A small selection of wether mutton and the ram section remained firm. Light ewes sold from $50-$98 and heavy weights made $75-$122 relative to skin value. Rams generally sold from $65-$134.
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 286 lambs and 754 sheep.
The NLRS said two stock agencies didn’t offer lambs, but most of the usual trade and processor buyers were active on the limited offering. Most lambs were small clean up lots.
Light weight lambs sold from $55-$95 and light weight trade 2 and 3 score types made $103-$114. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $115-$134, or nearly 570c/kg. The few heavy and extra heavy types made $146-$186. Hoggets sold from $75-$106.
Some excellent quality shorn Merino ewes were offered in the mutton sheep run. Light weight ewes made $45-$66. Medium weight ewes sold from $78-$87 and heavy ewes made $80-$110. Rams sold from $55-$100 and a restocker paid $129 for Merino rams.
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards, the agents yarded 3000 lambs, 816 more than last week, and 4744 sheep, 256 fewer.
The NLRS said the yarding was mostly old season lambs with a few new season lines.
Vendors who braved the rough weather were more than compensated, with values on most types at least $5 dearer. Trade competition was very strong, particularly on light weight and air freight type lambs. These were $5 dearer as buyers struggled to find suitable lambs with enough finish and had to resort to the younger better finished light weights.
The very few new season lambs penned sold from $50 for very immature lambs up to $165 for a pen of trade weights. Light weight old season crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $40-$125, up $5. Light lambs sold to air freight orders for $85-$120, up $5. Trade weights were up $5-$8 to $125-$159 and heavy weights made $140-$172 to remain firm.
Store black tag Merino lambs rose $5-$10 as recent rains gave a bit of confidence to feeders. Very plain and light Merino ewe lambs made $32-$76. The heavier weights made to $121. Store Merino wether lambs sold $5 dearer at $39-$112 to feeders.
Ram lambs sold from $120-$153 to the trade, but mostly for $85-$115. They opened easier but there was strong demand in later sales and they closed firm. Hoggets sold from-$65-$120 to the trade to remain firm.
Mutton ewes were $5-$10 dearer, with the very light lines making $35-$48 to feeders. Medium weights sold to feeders for $61-$117 and the trade paid $85-$126 for lines with big fleeces. Heavy ewes made from $125 up to $138for those with a big fleece. Prime wethers sold from $126-$137, and live exporters paid $110-$116, to remain firm. Mature rams sold to live export for $60-$85. Processors paid to $110, again firm.
In northern Tasmania on Tuesday, the NLRS said agents yarded 280 lambs, 420 fewer than last week, and 340 sheep, 170 more.
The NLRS said there was a very small yarding of lambs following recent price drops and as the old lamb seasons starts to slow. Tasmania is still three months away from any numbers of new season lambs coming to the market.
Most lamb prices eased a further $2-$4, with the exception of a few top quality trade pens which were fully firm. Restockers bought light lambs for $80-$100 and up to $111 for trade weights. The trade bought light trade lambs for $102-$113, trade weights for $128-$137, heavy weights for $127-$136 and extra heavy weights for $134-$156.
Most sheep met a similar market, with light ewes making $35-$45, medium weights $48-$68 and heavy weights $60-$76.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.