Domestic Lamb

New season lambs under price pressure as season turns

Terry Sim, September 17, 2014

lambs saleyards Ballarat 1Lamb prices generally fell in saleyards across Australia mid-week as new season numbers increased, old lamb quality declined and faltering pastures or crops forced lambs on the market.

Prices improved for the better well-finished lambs in some smaller yardings, but larger offerings came under pressure on price and because of freshness and skin quality issues.

Producers in many central and northern Victoria and NSW areas now lack sufficient pasture or crop growth to justify holding lambs, with some southern New South Wales lamb drafts being sent south to avoid the new season glut.

Even failed crops across Victoria’s Mallee and parts of the Wimmera are becoming inadequate to finish new season lambs, though producers are appreciating rates up to 510c/kg for the best trade and heavy lambs, and over 450c/kg for light and restocker lambs.

MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service said the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator closed on Tuesday at 475c/kg, down eight cents and the heavy lamb indicator finished on 474c/kg, down six cents. The mutton indicator was 326c/kg, down seven cents.

Old lamb prices drop $11 at Dubbo

In New South Wales at Dubbo on Monday, agents yarded 29,534 lambs, 2643 more than last week, and 6612 sheep, 1267 fewer.

The NLRS said there were good numbers of trade and heavy weight new season lambs, along with a fair selection of old lambs, but not quite the standard of the previous sale.

Trade weight lambs were $7 cheaper for new season lines and up to $11 cheaper for the old lambs. The 18-22kg new season lambs sold from $74-$117, to average 472c/kg cwt, while the 18-22kg old lambs made $76-$116.

Heavy weight lambs were close to firm for new season lambs and up to $5 cheaper for old lambs. Over 22kg new season lambs made $114-$136, while the heavy weight old lambs sold from $107-$156.40. Merino lambs were $9-$11 cheaper, with the trade weights making $70-$102, while the heavy weights sold to $118.

Lightweight lambs were $2-$5 cheaper, with 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $48-$83. Restockers paid $110-$120 for first cross ewes and $90 for lambs.

Most grades in the fair to good quality yarding of mutton sold $4-$9 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $27-$69, while the 3 and 4 scores made $68-$107 for Merinos and to $105 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $76-$97.

Ray White Rural Dubbo agent David Armitage said quality, greater numbers and the season affected prices this week, with many producers running out of options due to the season.

“An inch or two of rain would change everything.

“The season is right on a knife’s edge here.”

Heavy trade weight lambs dearer at Tamworth

In Tamworth on Monday, agents yarded 2150 lambs, 450 fewer, and 975 sheep, 495 less.

The NLRS said there were some very good quality well-finished young lambs, while old lamb quality was very mixed. The regular lamb and sheep buyers attended.

There were dearer trends for well-finished medium and heavy trade weight young lambs, especially for the heavier lambs. Old lambs sold generally cheaper, partially due to quality.

There were some good quality well-finished sheep, some with good skin value, and these sold firm to slightly dearer.

Sheep prices slip $10 at Forbes

In Forbes on Tuesday, agents yarded 32,900 lambs, 1350 more, 5950 sheep, 1600 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said quality was mixed in the 15,750 new season lambs, with some well-finished, but more showing signs of dryness. The usual buyers competed in a firm to slightly cheaper market.

Light weight new season lambs held steady, selling from $93-$105. Trade weights were $3-$4 at $102-$120, while heavy lambs were firm to cheaper, selling from $115-$136. Carcase prices averaged 470c/kg-490c/kg cwt. Old light lambs sold from $71-$82, while trade weights received from $82-$108.

Heavy lambs ranged from $108-$118 and extra heavy lines sold from $122-$156. Merino lambs sold from $69-$100.

Mutton numbers fell slightly, with Merinos making up the majority. Quality was mixed though there were some very good lines of medium and heavy weight sheep on offer. Prices slipped $10 and more for some pens. Merino ewes sold from $71-$105 and crossbreds made $70-$94. Merino wethers sold from $71-$100.

Extra buyer lifts light-medium lamb rates at Inverell

In Inverell on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3250 lambs, 626 more, and 1150 sheep, 573 more.

The NLRS said there was a fair selection of good quality young lambs, however old lambs made up most of the penning. Quality was fair to good, with some well-finished heavy and extra heavy weights. An extra buyer created strong competition on light and medium weight trade lambs.

The light and medium weight trade lambs were dearer trend due to the extra competition and quality. Despite their very good quality, the heavy and extra heavy lambs sold cheaper, in line with recent markets in the north.

The very good medium and heavy sheep penned sold to a much cheaper trend.

Young lambs firm to $3 down at Bendigo

In Victoria at Bendigo on Monday, agents yarded 23,205 lambs, 3020 more than last week, and 12,664 sheep, 2875 more.

The NLRS said new season lambs from the local Bendigo area and southern NSW dominated the market. Quality was more mixed with some starting to show signs of dryness in the skin. The quality of the top drafts was very good, with these young lambs showing more maturity. Prices for young lambs were from firm to $3 easier.

The top price for young lambs was $145 for a pen estimated at 30kg cwt from Quambatook — one of just two sales of extra heavy young lambs over $140. A limited offering of export weight young lambs sold from $130-$139, averaging an estimated 470c/kg-480c/kg cwt based on a $7-$8 skin. Most of the quality young lambs were trade weights and sold to domestic buyers at $105-$128, or 490c/kg-510c/kg cwt.

Lighter weight young lambs sold from $75-$96, or 460c/kg-470c/kg cwt for most. Store lamb buyers from Ballarat, Birchip, Bendigo and Leongatha paid $70-$90.

Quality was mixed in the 3000 old lambs. A few pens of better-bred and finished lambs sold from $102-$134, or 450c/kg-470c/kg cwt. Plainer types lacking weight and finish were discounted.

Extra heavy crossbred ewes were noticeably cheaper at $75-$85. Quality medium weight sheep, especially big lines of Merinos, received better competition and still averaged 300c/kg-330c/kg cwt, with most sales from $70-$85. Lighter sheep were dearer in places at $51-$60.

Elders Bendigo livestock manager Nigel Starick said the lamb market held up well considering the big yarding, to be generally firm to a few dollars easier at times.

“It’s good because the processors are holding prices at reasonable levels.
“It’s good money for everything.”

Nigel said he had producers averaging $101-$105, and up to $110 for new season drafts over the past four weeks, with their bottom lines making $90.

Lambs were being turned off failed crops across the Wimmera and parts of the Mallee, he said.

Trade lamb prices ease at Dublin

In SA at the SA Livestock Exchange in Dublin on Tuesday, agents yarded 11,370 lambs, 2980 more, and 3717 sheep, 1634 more than last week.

The NLRS said the mainly new season crossbred and Merino lambs sold to weaker demand from the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeders and restockers were more prominent and light weight crossbreds attracted stronger bidding. Lightweight 2 score, new season crossbreds sold to feeders $2 dearer, from $66-$94, while 3 scores sold from $80-$85. Light weight 3 score crossbreds to trade buyers eased $9, making from $90-$102, or around 457c/kg cwt, while light trade weight 4 scores eased $7, selling from $100-$108, or 458c/kg cwt.

Heavy trade weight lambs eased $8 to make $106-$120, or 452c/kg cwt, while the heavy weight 4 scores eased $13, to $114-$130, or 444c/kg cwt. Light weight new seasons Merinos sold from $73-$92 and some exceptional heavy trade weights sold to processors from $102-$120 to average 457c/kg cwt.

Old lamb numbers continue to dissipate and heavy weight crossbreds sold from $100 to $116, while Merinos made from $90-$116.

The mixed sheep yarding sold to easing processor demand, while restockers paid to $70 for sound mouth longer wool ewes. Light weight 2 score Merino ewes eased $3 and sold from $55-$67, or 249c/kg cwt, while heavy weight 3 score ewes eased $5 to sell from $68-$82, or 261c/kg cwt. Wethers were plentiful and prices for heavy weights eased $5, to $68-$89 and averaged 269c/kg cwt. Rams sold from $49-$72.

Most lambs $5-$8 cheaper at Naracoorte

At Naracoorte on Tuesday, agents yarded 3356 lambs, 1277 more, and 2092 sheep, 358 fewer.

The NLRS said new season young lambs outnumbered old lambs, with the usual buyers providing steady competition but lower bids. Most trade and heavy weight old and new season lambs sold $5-$8 cheaper while sheep made $2-$5 less.

The light weight 2 score new season lambs sold from $65-$76, while lighter trade weight 2 and 3 scores made $80-$88. Trade weight 3 score new season lambs made $90-$108, with a pen out to $114, or 460c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score export weights sold from $113-$122 and averaged 475c/kg cwt.

Most 3 score trade weight old lambs made $68-$88, with a top pen at $95, while heavy weight old lambs made between $102-$122. These trade and heavy weight lambs together averaged 400c/kg cwt. Heavy weight hoggets sold from $70-$98.

Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep made $34-$56, medium weight 2 and 3 scores sold from $54-$76, while the heavy 3 to 5 scores ranged from $68-$89. A run of 2 to 4 score ewes averaged 290c/kg cwt, with a few pens of wethers on 305c/kg cwt. Rams sold from $12-$52.

Sheep firm to $5 dearer at Muchea

In WA at Muchea on Tuesday, agents yarded 3118 fair to good quality lambs, 459 fewer, and 8560 sheep, 1004 more, for the usual buyers.

The NLRS said about 1700 new season and 1,400 old lambs were penned. Prime new season trade lambs were in reasonable numbers but very few heavy lambs and the old lambs were plain. Trade lamb prices eased by $3/head, with light and restocking drafts firm. Wether and ram sales were equal.

Light new season second cross lambs to processors and air freight orders made $65-$88, to be close to firm. Trade new season lambs, 18-22kg, sold from $86-$114, or $455c/kg cwt, back almost $3, with the few heavy drafts making to $114.50.

Merino lambs averaged close to 435/kg cwt. Old season lambs were back by $1-$5, with light and air freight lambs making $55-$85. Trade lambs made $75-$105, with heavy lambs selling up to $107. Lambs to restockers sold from $54-$72, with Merino drafts making $34-$61.

More heavy ewes were yarded. Sheep prices lifted generally by $2-$4, particularly for the lighter weights. The heavier 3 and 4 score ewes made $75-$100, to be up to $5 dearer. Processor 2 and 3 score ewe mutton made $50-$85, with the very light drafts at $38-$57. Mature ewe drafts to restockers sold from $65-$100, with the dearer ewes carrying an $18 skin.

Wether prices were firm, with heavy drafts to butchers making $78-$98.50 and select drafts to live exporters from $65-$90. Wethers to restockers and feeders made $55-$90, also firm. Ram sales were firm, with the better young rams to live export making from $50-$70, while longer wool drafts sold to $80. Sales to processors were mostly firm at $30-$60, with better ram lambs making to $85.

Source: MLA, NLRS

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