STRONG demand for new season lambs helped keep prices mostly firm in saleyards early this week.
Domestic processors are turning increasingly to new season lambs as the weight in drafts increases and quality declines in old lamb lines, especially in southern New South Wales.
Merino lambs are filling trade supply gaps in some markets, with the National Livestock Reporting Service quoting prices as lifting $5-$7 in Dubbo on Monday. Some areas in New South Wales are still unable to transport lambs due to weather conditions hampering paddock access.
In New South Wales early this week, light 12.1-18kg cwt new season lambs with $1-$7 skins made $7-$141, or 548-788c/kg, reflecting some restocker interest. The young 18.1-22kg trade lambs with $1-$7 skins made $110-$161, or 548-745c/kg. Heavier 22.1-24kg new season lambs with $150-$170, or 625-709c/kg.
At Deniliquin yesterday, heavy 24.1-30kg new season lambs with $7-$8 skins sold from $165-$185, or 630-664c/kg.
In Victoria, light 16.1-18kg new season lambs with $5 skins sold for $116, or 617c/kg, and the light/medium trade weights with $5-$7 skins made $127-$158, or 630-691c/kg. The 22.1-24kg young lambs with $6-$7 skins sold from $159-$173.50, or 642-694c/kg. The 24.1kg-plus young lambs with $7 skins at Bendigo sold for $166-$185, or 649-683c/kg.
South Australia’s light new season lambs with $2-$5 skins made $64-$128, or 400-667c/kg. The light/medium trade young drafts with $5-$6 skins sold from $115-$162, or 575-714c/kg.
At Muchea in Western Australia yesterday, light new season lambs with $1-$2 skins made $65-$91, or 456-480c/kg. The light/medium trade young lambs with $1-$3 skins sold for $90-$120, or 440-557c/kg and a 22.1-24kg draft with $3 skins made $126, or 513c/kg. The 24.1-26kg young lambs with $3 skins sold for $135, or 528c/kg.
NLRS slaughter lamb indicators mostly firm
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators for the lamb categories were: restocker 571c/kg, down 7 cents; Merino 565c/kg, up 9c; light 587c/kg, no change; trade 649c/kg, down 1c; heavy 645c/kg, up 2c. The national trade lamb indicator is firm on 650c/kg and the national heavy lamb indicator is up 2 cents on 646c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton fell 1 cent to 397c/kg and the national mutton indicator is on 395c/kg, down 1 cent.
Over-the-hook indicators generally unchanged
In New South Wales, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook lamb indicators as unchanged this week, after fairly stable saleyard conditions across the states last week. Mutton rates lifted slightly across all weight ranges, as one contributor lifted their rate.
NSW’s rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 540-670c/kg; 20-24kg, 580-670c/kg; 24-26kg+, 580-620c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 470-550c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 100-340c/kg, up 5c/kg; 18-24kg, 220-380c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 320-400c/kg, up 3c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said light and trade weight lamb over-the-hook indicators edged slightly higher week-on-week, while all other categories were unchanged. Mutton indicators remained firm, with medium weights averaging 350c/kg cwt.
Victoria’s OTH rates for lamb are: 16-18kg, 630-650c/kg, up 5c; 18-22kg, 630-670c/kg, up 3c; 22-24kg, 610-670c/kg, nc; 24-26kg, 610-630c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 630c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 600c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 320-330c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 340-360c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 300-360c/kg, nc.
In South Australia, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb indicators were unchanged on week-ago levels across all categories, with trade weights averaging 620c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were also firm, with medium weights on 344c/kg cwt.
South Australia’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 570c/kg; 18-24kg, 570-670c/kg; 24-26kg, 570-630c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 530c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 280-380c/kg; 18-24kg, 300-380c/kg; 24kg+, 300-360c/kg.
The latest OTH rates for sheep and lambs in Western Australia and Tasmania were unavailable when this report was published.
Dubbo’s new season lambs lift $3
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 25,850 lambs, 9500 fewer than last week, and 5900 sheep, 1000 less.
The NLRS said the plainer quality lamb yarding had more light weight lambs, but also some good runs of trade and heavy weights.
Light weight lambs were firm, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $68-$115. Trade lambs were $4 cheaper, with the 18-23kg 3 scores making $113-$160 to average around 635c/kg cwt.
New season lambs were $3 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $118-$169. Heavy weight lambs up to 26kg were $4 cheaper and the extra heavy weights were $3-$6 dearer. The over 22kg 4 scores sold from $144-$216.
Merino lambs were $5-$7 dearer, with the trade weights making $99-$154 and the heavier weight to $159. Restockers paid to $200 for first cross ewe lambs and $95 for lambs to finish. Hoggets sold to $133.
Most grades were represented in a fair quality yarding of sheep. Ewes were firm to $4 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $35-$78. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos made $77-$138 and the crossbreds sold to $132. Well-finished wethers were $6 dearer at $118-$132.
Corowa’s strong new season lamb prices continue
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 14,000 lambs, 6000 more than last week, and 2000 sheep, 200 more.
The NLRS said the yarding included 3400 new season lambs. Quality was mixed, with quite a few secondary lambs showing the effects of the cold and wet conditions. The yarding consisted of mainly trade weights, limited heavy weights and some very good young lambs. All the usual buyers attended and the strong prices for the new season lambs continued.
Prices fluctuated throughout the sale and skin values continued their recent declines. New season trade weight lambs sold from $122-$169, or mostly 661-693c/kg cwt. Prices were firm on the light weight trade lambs at $124-$151, back $5-$10 on most. Medium trade weights made $130-$162. Heavy trade lambs sold from $144-$175. Trade lamb cwt prices were mainly 645-652c/kg.
Heavy lambs were firm at $145-$188 and the extra heavy lambs were $4 dearer at $175-$204. Restockers have been reluctant to buy lambs due to the reducing time they have before lambs start breaking their teeth. Medium trade Merino lambs made to $132.
It was a fair quality offering of sheep, with most weights and grades represented. Not all exporters operated. Medium weight Merino ewes with full wool sold to $126 and heavy crossbred ewes made to $126.
Tamworth’s trade lambs $1-$11 dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3000 lambs, 675 fewer than last week, and 1100 sheep, 150 less.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to very good. The yarding included a few pens of new season young lambs. Well-finished trade and heavy weights were in good numbers and there were some secondary quality and plainer condition lots.
Demand was stronger throughout the sale. Market trends were dearer, with restockers active on plainer condition lambs they believed could be finished before cutting permanent teeth.
Well-finished trade weight lambs were $1-$11 dearer. The very good quality penning of heavy and extra heavy weights sold $3-$6 dearer on average, with extra weight and improved quality adding more price improvement.
The sheep market was also dearer for a very mixed quality and condition penning. Heavy slaughter sheep sold up to $6 dearer. Restockers were active throughout the sale, operating on young first cross ewes and a line of full wool Merino ewes.
Forbes’ trade lambs lift $2
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 21,400 lambs, 3050 fewer than last week, and 7000 sheep, 2900 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to previous sales. Well-finished and plainer lambs were penned. The usual buyers competed in a fairly similar market.
Agents yarded 4300 fair quality new season lambs. Trade weights sold from $128-$163.
Light old lambs sold firm to $2 better at $113-$122. Trade weights were also firm to $2 dearer at $124-$149. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs sold firm to $3 better. Heavy lambs made $150-$166 and extra heavyweights $156-$210. Carcase prices averaged from 630-650c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $107-$162.
Sheep quality was mixed. Most were Merinos and prices were similar to last week. Merino ewes sold from $80-$139. Crossbreds made $88-$125 and Dorper ewes $84-$110.
Strong domestic demand for lambs at Deniliquin
At the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5565 lambs and 1570 sheep.
The NLRS said the lamb yarding was dominated by new season lines from the Riverina. The quality of the young lambs was very good, with most presenting as fresh trade weights in clean skins. The line-up of old season lambs remained very mixed and buyer interest on the secondary types, including long-woolled dry lambs and odd pen lots, has started to ease.
Demand was strongest from domestic buyers, including one of the major supermarket chains, and the best quality young lambs and suitable old season lambs recorded dearer price trends compared to the last sale a fortnight ago.
Prices for export weight young lambs reached a top of $185 for a small pen estimated at around 28kg cwt. It was the only sale over $180, with only three pens making $170-$175. The real interest in the market was on more nicely-weighted young lambs, 20-24kg cwt, with most sales at $140-$170. In carcase weight terms, the best of the light young slaughter lambs sold from 640-710c/kg, averaging around 665-670c/kg.
Old season lambs topped the sale at $190 for two pens of extra heavy lambs weighing over 30kg. Price results for old lambs varied according to quality and size, with the neatest lambs with short skins suiting domestic orders making up to 670c/kg. The plainer old crossbred lambs trended under 600c/kg. The Merino lambs were mostly lighter weight types, 21kg and less, which mainly sold from $93-$125. A single heavier pen made $128. A carcase weight range of 500-550c/kg covered most of the Merino lambs.
The sheep sale was dominated by recently shorn Merino ewes from station country, most of which displayed good frame and size. Mutton prices were mostly solid and similar to the last sale. The heaviest bare shorn Merino ewes over 24kg sold from $102-$109 and the general run of medium types from $70-$94.
Bendigo’s new season lambs average 660c/kg
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards, the agents yarded 8444 lambs, 931 more than last week, and 3310 sheep, 792 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed as the tail-end drafts of old season lambs come in.
Prices for the better finished trade and export lambs were firm to a few dollars dearer than last week. Bidding for plainer types and odd pen lots of long-woolled old season lambs fluctuated to be cheaper in places. Light weight old lambs under about 18kg sold cheaper, with poor quality a factor.
The supply of new season lambs continued to build and received the best support, particularly from the major domestic processors. New season lambs sold up to $185 for a pen estimated at nearly 27kg cwt. There were just two sales over $180 and about six pens of young lambs above $170. The main drafts of young lambs in the 22-24kg range sold from $159-$172 to average $164. On a carcase weight basis, the lead pens of young lambs sold from an estimated 650-690c/kg, to average around 660c/kg. Some pens of smaller and lighter weight young lambs made $116-$132.
There wasn’t as much weight in the old season lambs this week and they sold to $188, with the best heavy trades making $165. Results for old season lambs varied according to size and quality, with buyers favouring the shorter-skinned types displaying better fat cover. The better quality lambs recorded stronger price results than a week ago.
There was an improved yarding of sheep, with more weight and bigger runs of bare shorn Merinos. Prices were dearer, with heavy crossbred ewes making $102-$125 and the heavier drafts of Merino ewes selling from $88-$125. The good quality sheep made 350-390c/kg cwt.
Ballarat’s best lambs firm to dearer
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6192 lambs, 389 more than last week, and 2610 sheep, 428 more.
The NLRS said most of the regular buyers attended the sale. Lamb quality was again mixed.
The better heavy lambs sold to $196 and the better covered, heavier trade weights made $150-$165. The well-covered lambs sold firm to a few dollars dearer, and the plainer and lighter lambs were a few dollars cheaper.
A pen of nice quality new season lambs sold for $173.50. Medium weight Merino lambs sold to $96.50. Feeders paid from $81-$145 for lambs and restockers mostly paid $63-$99. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $68.60-$92. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $92-$138 and averaged around 640c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $132-$160. Heavier drafts made $150-$165, or 600-715c/kg, averaging around 650c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $168-$196.
Sheep mostly sold a few dollars either side of firm. Heavy Merino wethers, well-presented in a good skin sold to $137.50. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep made $45-$85. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $63-$99, or 330-440c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 370-380c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $85-$137.50, with heavy Merino ewes making $98-$115 at around 420c/kg. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $94-$137.50 at around 410c/kg and the medium weights made $70.50-$113.
Dublin lamb prices generally firm
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin, the agents yarded 9418 lambs, 2933 more than last week, and 2364 sheep, 728 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed and the usual trade and processors provided erratic competition alongside restockers seeking lambs to turn out. Prices were generally firm, although some categories eased slightly.
Light young new season lambs sold from $45-$90, with most going to restockers. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $100-$128. The heavier types were firm at $130-$162. Light weight old lambs made $54-$95, with restockers paying $46-$80. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$113. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold firm at $95-$130, or around 540c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold up to $3 cheaper at $114-$140. The few extra heavy types made $130-$170. A large run of hoggets sold up to $4 cheaper, with light weight types making to $70 and heavier lines mainly making $112-$130 and up to $148.
Light weight ewes sold from $40-$52, medium weight types made $62-$91 and heavier ewes sold to $122. There was a good line-up of wethers and the light weights sold to $82, medium weights to $112 and the heavy lots to $140. Rams sold from $80-$102.
Naracoorte’s lamb prices hold firm
At the Naracoorte sale yards last week, the agents yarded 1031 lambs, 265 fewer than last week, and 1118 sheep, 323 more.
The NLRS said the usual buyers paid prices similar to last week. Lamb quality was again mixed, with the yarding ranging from plain 2 scores to good quality 3 and 4 score trade and heavy weights.
The odd pens of new season lambs sold from $129-$149. There were too few sales of 2 score light and 2 and 3 score light trade weight old lambs to quote on. The 3 score trade weight old lambs made $110-$138, averaging an estimated 558c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $134-$163 and averaged an estimated 630c/kg. A pen of extra heavy weights made $170. The 3-5 score heavy weight hoggets sold dearer despite their extra weight at $107-$124.
The sheep were mostly heavy and extra heavy weights in 3-5 score condition. The 2 and 3 score medium weight ewe sheep sold from $73-$98 and averaged an estimated 375c/kg. The heavy and extra heavy weight 3, 4 and 5 score ewes made $90-$115, or around an estimated 370c/kg. Heavy 2 score rams sold from $78-$98 and a pen of full wool Merinos made $110.
Muchea lamb quality mixed
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5813 lambs, 1227 fewer than last week, and 4580 sheep, 252 more.
The NLRS said the lamb yarding included a reasonable supply of new season drafts, but there were not as many heavy prime drafts as last week. Lamb quality was mixed, with some very good drafts, but also numerous plain tail-end lots, which lacked demand. Live export orders were restricted to light weight wether lambs. All other buyers were active. Early sales eased slightly but improved as the market progressed. Later sales moved lower, as buyers filled orders.
Light new season lambs made $60-$90, mostly to processors. Trade weight new season lambs, 18-22kg, sold from $90-$120 or 530c/kg. Old season light store lambs eased $3-4 to $43-$74 and better light drafts sold to live exporters for up to $103, with most making $65-$95. Prime trade and heavy weight lambs made $90-$134 and averaged close to 525c/kg. Plain drafts made around 470c/kg.
Ewe and wether supplies were solid. Ewe mutton sold close to firm, with a slightly easier feel to the market. Light ewes made $45-$69, with the 2 score medium weight drafts $2 dearer at $59-$82, or 320c/kg. Heavy prime ewes sold from $68-$104 and were back close to $4 on average.
All the wethers sold to restockers, with bare shorn export weight drafts making $85-$95 and long wool drafts to $120. Lighter and store wethers made $65-$114 depending on weight quality and wool length, similar to last week. Ram lambs sold at equal prices of $85-$113, as did the young rams suitable for export feeders at $55-$99. Old rams sold firm to processors for $38-$65.
Tasmania’s NLRS sheep sale report was not available when this article was published.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.