OLD lamb prices continued to slide in saleyards this week, with processors applying additional price pressure through lower carcase grid rates and restockers seeking new season lambs with less weight and dentition risk.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service quoted most saleyards as experiencing reduced processor buyer demand for lambs, often on quality, but also due to reduced supplies.
Trade lamb prices in saleyards nationally fell $5-$16 a head and heavy lamb rates dropped by $10-$20, depending on quality and numbers yarded.
Interest in restocking old lambs is waning through saleyards, with the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicator for restocker lambs falling 56 cents to 611c/kg on Tuesday. However, restockers are still paying 650-725c/kg for restocker lambs online. See the video above for 15.8kg cwt score 2 and 3 March drop lambs at Wallandbeen in New South Wales that sold on AuctionsPlus on Tuesday to a Cootamundra district restocker for $120, or around 725c/kg.
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New season lambs at Bendigo, Forbes and Muchea
Early new season lambs continued to trickle into the Forbes saleyards in New South Wales, into Bendigo in Victoria and the Muchea saleyards in Western Australia.
Agents penned 1800 new season lambs at Forbes on Tuesday and prices for trade weight young lambs with $8-$9 skins eased $8-$10 to $141-$160, or 600-667c/kg. Light 12.1-18kg suckers with $8-$9 skins made $94-$119, or 567-600c/kg. Heavy 24.1-26kg new season lambs with $8 skins made $158 or 600c/kg.
At the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the light 12.1-18kg new season lambs with $4-$5 skins sold for $92-$115, or 567-677c/kg, and the 18.1-24kg trade weights with $5 skins made $108-$133, or 557c/kg.
At the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, 12.1-18kg new season lambs with $3-$5 skins sold fgor $55-$97, or 371-553c/kg.
NLRS indicators and OTH grid rates fall
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for the other lamb categories were: Merino 549c/kg, down 12 cents; light 587c/kg, down 8c; trade 603c/kg, down 8c; heavy 590c/kg, down 15c.
Over the hook lamb prices put out by processors were also substantially lower this week, especially in New South Wales and Victoria, according to the NLRS.
In New South Wales, the NLRS contributors’ grid for 2-4 score lambs 18-24kg was dropped 36 cents to 560-570c/kg, the 24kg+ lamb rate fell 20 cents to 580-630c/kg and Merinos 16-22kg at 450-550c/kg were down 17 cents.
In Victoria, 2-4 score 16-18kg lambs rates were dropped 20 cents to 640-670c/kg, 18-22kg lambs were down 14 cents to 640-680c/kg, the 22-26kg lambs were cut 20 cents to 640-680c/kg and 26kg+ lambs lost 10 cents to 640c/kg.
For South Australia, the NLRS quoted the 2-4 score lamb grid as 600-680c/kg for 18-24kgs and 600-640c/kg for 24-26kg lambs. The 16-22kg Merino range is 470-520c/kg.
Mutton prices take a hit
Mutton sheep prices fell substantially in saleyards this week, as major processors either didn’t compete or bought less. Sheep prices generally dropped $10-$20 a head in most eastern states centres. Trade and heavy mutton sheep prices fell up to $20-$40 a head in some saleyards. On Tuesday, the NLRS ESDI for mutton fell 23 cents to 441c/kg.
The NLRS quoted the NSW processor contributors’ mutton grid this week for 14-24kg mutton as falling 40-41 cents to 400-470c/kg and for 24kg+ carcases, 420-470c/kg, 36 cents down.
In Victoria, the mutton grid was 400-470c/kg for 14-18kgs, 420-470c/kg for 18-24kgs and 360-450c/kg for 24kg+. The South Australian contributors’ sheep grid was: 14-24kg, 450-470c/kg, and 24kg+, 380-450c/kg. No up-to-date Tasmanian or Western Australian grids were available when this report was published.
Dubbo trade lambs $8-$12 cheaper
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 21,120 lambs, 12,830 fewer than last week, and 6425 sheep, 4675 less.
The NLRS said the fair quality yarding included a good selection of trade weight lambs, a reasonable offering of heavy weights, but fewer extra heavy weights. Not all the regular buyers operated in the cheaper market.
Heavy weight lambs finished $11-$14 cheaper and the few extra heavy weights eased up to $25. The over 22kg 4 scores sold from $140-$186 to average 580c/kg cwt. Trade lambs were $8-$12 cheaper, with the 18-23kg 3 scores selling from $98-$151, to average 580-590c/kg.
Merino lambs were up to $15 cheaper, with trade weights making $104-$128. Heavy weight Merino lambs sold to $148. Light weight lambs sold $7 cheaper to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $70-$111. Restockers paid to $113 and hoggets sold to $131.
There were some top sheep and plain lines in the mixed yarding of mutton. The tougher market continued, with most grades selling $12-$16 lower. The 2 score ewes sold from $30-$82. The better 3 and 4 score full wool Merinos made $74-$155 and crossbred sold to $120. Heavy weight Merino wethers in full wool sold to $165, to average 443c/kg.
Corowa’s trade lambs drop $15-$16
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 5222 lambs, 4978 fewer than last week, and 2563 sheep, 163 more.
The NLRS said it was a fair to good quality offering. The lambs were mostly trade and heavy weights, with a small offering of store lambs and fewer extra heavy lambs. Merino lambs were well represented and were mostly light and trade weights. Not all the usual buyers operated in the cheaper weather-affected market.
The few restocker lambs sold from $52-$99. Medium and heavy trade weight lambs were $15-$16 cheaper at $111-$148, averaging 570-600c/kg. Heavy lambs eased by $15-$20 to $136-$157 and extra heavy lambs made to $172. Most averaged 560-580c/kg. Merino lambs sold to $141 to restockers. The best of the hoggets made to $134.
The mutton sheep yarding was mixed in quality and contained more heavy crossbred ewes. Prices eased $10 and more in places, across most grades. Medium weight ewes sold from $82-$122 and heavy crossbred ewes made $146.
Tamworth sheep lose $40
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3200 lambs, 1330 fewer than last week, and 1500 sheep, 850 less.
The NLRS said there was a marked reduction in sheep and lambs prices. The lack of good lambs, a reduction in grown sheep quality and one operator buying fewer numbers were the main reasons for the cheaper trends.
Prices for the best heavy lambs fell by up to $23 and the trade types lost $10-$15. There were no numbers of restocker lambs to quote.
Good trade sheep were in short supply and these sold up to $40 cheaper.
Forbes new season lambs ease $8-$10
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,500 lambs, 9850 fewer than last week, and 5450 sheep, 600 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to previous sales, with good numbers of well-finished lambs and plainer types. Most were heavy and extra heavy weights. The usual buyers competed in the cheaper market.
Agents penned 1800 new season lambs and trade weight prices eased $8-$10 to $141-$160, or 600-667c/kg.
Old light lambs were back by $8 to $98-$112. Trade weights were $10-$14 easier at $112-$135. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs showed the biggest change, easing $15-$20 and more in places. Heavy lambs sold from $136-$152 and extra heavy weights made $138-$196. Carcase prices averaged 550-571c/kg.
The mutton sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was very mixed. Prices were back $15, with Merino ewes selling from $94-$145. Crossbreds made $88-$144 and Merino wethers sold from $102-$138.
Bendigo’s best trade lambs slip $5-$10
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 7038 lambs, 9060 fewer than last week, and 2609 sheep, 699 less.
The NLRS said it was an average to good quality lamb yarding for the regular buyers, with trade weight and heavy lambs well-supplied.
Heavy lambs sold to $190, with the heavier trade weights making $133-$155 and averaging 600c/kg. Lambs mostly sold to a cheaper trend, with the better presented domestic lambs selling $5-$10 easier and the plainer types and heavy lambs making $10-$20 less, and more in places.
Feeders and restockers paid from $112-$143.50 for lambs and from $67-$105 for lighter lots. Merino lambs sold from $104-$144, with the lighter drafts making $95-$112. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $78-$107. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$137 and averaged 620c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $114-$141 and the heavier drafts made $133-$155, or 540-630c/kg, averaging 600c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $140-$179, with the extra heavy lambs selling from $170-$190.
The mutton sheep yarding comprised all weights and grades, but not all the regular buyers operated fully. Sheep also sold to an easier trend to be $15-$20 down on last week and more in spots.
Heavy shorn Merino wethers sold to $156. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $91.20-$130, with a run of Merino mutton averaging 440c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $124-$160, heavy Merino wethers made $112-$156 and the heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $98-$138. Rams sold to $76.
Ballarat’s best domestic lambs nudge 700c/kg
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8063 lambs, 5168 fewer than last week, and 2477 sheep, 1878 less.
The NLRS said there were fewer heavy lambs in the average to good quality yarding. The usual buyers attended, but not all operated fully.
The best heavy lambs sold to $188, with the heavier trade weight lambs making $130-$163 and averaging 610c/kg. Lambs sold cheaper on quality, with trade weight and heavy lambs easing from $10-$15. The better covered short skin domestic trade weight lambs sold at close to unchanged rates, at times making close to 700c/kg. Heavier Merino lambs sold from $120-$135 at 520c/kg.
Restockers and feeders paid from $105.50-$158 for lambs, and to $129 for near-full wool Merino lambs. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $98-$130 and averaged 590c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $123-$139, with the heavier drafts making $130-$163, or 550-695c/kg and averaging 610c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs made $148-$188 at 590c/kg. Heavy hoggets sold from $90-$148.
All weights and grades of sheep were offered. In line with other recent markets, they sold $10-$15 easier and more in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $60-$103. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $78-$124, or 390-465c/kg. A run of Merino mutton averaged 430c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $106.20-$110, heavy Merino wethers sold from $123-$139 and medium weight wethers sold from $93-$120. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep made $88-$147. Rams made to $136.20.
Dublin lambs ease $10-$15
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange in Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8300 lambs, 200 fewer than last week, and 2200 sheep, 200 more.
The NLRS said the usual trade, processors and restockers were active. In an offering generally lacking in quality, lamb prices across all classes were back by $10-$15 following an easier trend in Victorian and New South Wales markets the previous day.
Light young lambs sold from $45-$97. Light older lambs made $39-$100, with the 16-18kg weight range making $72-$123. Lighter trade weight lambs sold from $75-$135, medium weights made $90-$160 and heavier lambs sold from $138-$185. Hoggets sold to a generally firm trend, from $60-$150.
Young Merino ewes sold to restockers for $84-$100 and the trade paid $40-$150 for ewes. Wethers sold from $115-$135. Light rams sold from $60-$133 with heavy rams made $106-$152.
Naracoorte heavy mutton drops $20-$30
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1090 lambs, 237 fewer than last week, and 759 sheep, 270 less.
The NLRS said the usual small field of trade and processor buyers was boosted by the return of a regular buyer. Due to the small offering, not all buyers were fully active and some did not buy.
Quality was mixed, with a wide range of type and weight, resulting in fluctuations in price across the lamb sale.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade for $72-$105. A lone restocker paid $89-$99. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold to $116. Trade weight 3 score lambs were in short supply and they lacked quality and finish, selling from $119-$136 and easing up to $5. The best of these lambs made 580c/kg. The limited number of heavy lambs made $139-$166. The extra heavy selection sold from $166-$208. Hoggets generally sold from $79-$125, with a few wethers making $126.
There was another big drop in sheep prices, with a regular buyer absent and others either not active or only partially interested in the offering.
Ewes eased in price, with only subdued buyer interest in the offering. Light weight types made $26-$75, medium weights sold from $82-$108 and the heavy selection made $90-$128, easing $20-$30 with more in places. The best of these ewes sold from 370-400c/kg. Rams made $60-$120.
Muchea sheep and lamb prices ease
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6364 lambs, 636 fewer than last week, and 6666 sheep, 136 more.
The NLRS said the sheep and lamb yarding was of very poor quality, with only the older sheep holding some condition. Most of the yarding presented in score 2 condition and this affected prices, with most sheep and lambs back $3-$5 and only trade lambs holding value.
Heavy lambs sold from $149-$170 to remain firm. Trade lambs 20-22kg sold from $110-$143. The 18-20kg lambs made $100-$125, back $3-$5. The 15-17kg air freight lambs sold from $65-$106, back $3. The best heavy weight ram lambs made $100-$122. Light weight ram lambs lacked quality and sold from $35-$68 to restockers, back $5. Hoggets generally eased $10 on quality to $70-$99, with poorer conditioned types down $40.
Most of the lambs yarded were store quality. Young Merino ewe lambs were still keenly sought by restockers with the 18kg and over category making $90-$134. Medium 14-18kg lambs sold from $60-$90 and lighter weights made $30-$60, easing by $3-$5. Young Merino wether lambs eased by $5-$10 due to quality. Heavy weights sold from $100-$108, medium weights made $65-$112 and light weights sold for $39-$72.
Mutton sheep prices eased $3. Best heavy ewes made $100-$125 and those higher in price had a longer fleece. Medium weight ewes sold to processors for $70-$105 to remain close to equal. Light weight ewes made $22-$58, back $3.
Wethers remained firm, with live exporters paying $105-$115 for the best heavy weights. Restockers paid $99-$120, with the top sales including a $10-plus skin value. Ram prices remained firm, with processors and live export paying $95-$122 for best younger well-finished types. Feeders paid $35-$75 for plainer rams.
Tasmania’s trade and light lambs drop $5-$15
In the northern Tasmanian saleyards of Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 770 lambs, 1430 fewer than last week, and 30 sheep, 370 less.
The NLRS said the big drop in lamb numbers was probably brought about by last week’s much cheaper rates. There were virtually no mutton sheep penned following advice that one major buyer was out of the market.
Restockers paid $60-$107 for light lambs and $105-$115 for trade pens. Exporters paid $78-$95 for light lambs destined for the Middle East trade. Light trade lambs made $92-$120, trades $110-$143, heavies $130-$150 and the few extra heavy pens made $145-$155.
Heavy lamb prices were similar while trade and light lambs were $5-$15 cheaper with limited restocker competition in comparison to the last few months.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.