SALEYARD lamb prices fell further in saleyards early this week and some processors dropped over-the-hook lamb and mutton rates as supply and quality declined.
But the strength of the restocker market for suitable lambs was illustrated by AuctionsPlus early this week, with early light 11-16kg new season lambs making more than 800c/kg, and the odd lighter line selling for more than 1000c/kg, ex-skin value.
Sheep and lamb prices fell by up to $30 in some saleyards, with restocker, light and heavy lambs most-affected. Most price drops were less than this, firm to $5 lower for trade lambs and $3-$18 less for heavy and extra heavy lambs, depending on the quality and quantity offered.
However, after Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for light, restocker and Merino lambs were still 54-65c/kg above year-ago levels. The ESDIs for trade and heavy lambs closed 29-45c/kg above year-ago levels.
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Small numbers of new season lambs were offered in Forbes on Tuesday, with the 12.1-16 kg lines with $5-$7 skins making $112-$119, or 700c/kg, and the 18.1-22kg pens with $7 skins selling for $137-$150, or 681-684c/kg. At Naracoorte on Tuesday, new season lambs made up about 5 percent of the yarding and the 20-24kg lines with $4 skins made $144-$155, or 657-667c/kg.
On AuctionsPlus on Tuesday at Lockhart in New South Wales, 320 mixed sex new season March-April drop unshorn White Suffolk-Merino cross lambs, 11.9kg cwt and score 2, sold for $107. Allowing for a $4 skin value this puts their cost at 865c/kg. At Dubbo in NSW, AuctionsPlus sold 490 unshorn March-April drop Poll Dorset lambs, 15.5kg and score 3, for $133, which with a $5 skin value brings them out at 825c/kg. These were topped by 250 unshorn March-April drop unshorn White Suffolk lambs at Cootamundra, 9.3kg cwt and score 2, that sold for $106.50, which with a $4 skin value makes them worth 1100c/kg cwt.
The NLRS over-the-hook indicators for 18-26kg-plus lambs in New South Wales were dropped 6-10 cents to 600-680c/kg this week and 16-22kg Merino lambs rates fell 27 cents to 470-60c/kg, but mutton rates held firm. In South Australia, the NLRS OTH indicators for 18-26kg-plus lambs were lowered 20-27 cents to 670-690c/kg. Merino lamb rates fell 20-30c cents to 490-590c/kg. SA’s 18-24kg mutton rates were lowered 11-35 cents to 430-500c/kg. Over-the-hook lamb and mutton rates in Victoria and Western Australia were held firm.
The NLRS said the seasonal decline in lamb yardings across the eastern states is underway, although supplies are higher than they were the same time last year.
Lamb offerings at eastern states saleyards are tracking 8 percent higher so far in June, compared to the same period last year, as producers are enticed by strong prices.
A public holiday last week caused eastern states lamb supplies at saleyards to drop by almost 30,000 head week-on-week, to around 157,000 head. Year-on-year, however, offerings were up 12pc, the NLRS said.
After Tuesday’s saleyard markets the ESDIs for lamb were: restocker, 684c/kg, down 18 cents; Merino 610c/kg, down 4c; light 647c/kg, down 11c; trade 654c/kg, down 4c and heavy 641c/kg, down 7c. The ESDI for mutton was up 3 cents to 511c/kg.
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 38,650 lambs, 8000 more than the last sale two weeks ago, and 11,500 sheep.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said the good quality yarding had a good selection of trade and heavy weight lambs. There were also good numbers of Dorpers, Merinos and light weights in from the far west.
Light weight lambs sold $3 cheaper to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $82-$124. Trade lambs finished $2 cheaper, with 18-22kg 3 scores making $123-$162, to average 640c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs up to 26kg cwt were $5 cheaper and extra heavy weights were $12-$18 cheaper. The over 22kg 4 scores sold from $147-$221, to average around 615c/kg.
Merino lambs were $8 cheaper, with the trade weights making $110-$150 and the heavy weights selling to $168. First cross ewe lambs sold to restockers for $170. Restocker lambs sold to $131 and hoggets to $167.
Most grades were represented in the fair quality yarding of mutton sheep. Merino ewes were firm to $2 cheaper and the crossbreds were $12 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $55-$97. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos made $98-$170 and crossbreds sold to $164. Merino wethers sold to $166.
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 13,400 lambs, and 3100 sheep, 250 more than two weeks ago.
The NLRS said the yarding included 2400 Merino lambs and has some excellent quality lambs in all weight categories. Most lambs were trade weights.
Prices began lower than the last sale, but improved to be down by only $1-$4 in the trade weights and $7-$10 for the heavy and extra heavy lambs. Restockers were not as active and this reflected in the prices easing $10-$15.
Light trade weight lambs made $131-$158, medium trade sold from $142-$169 to average 695c/kg and the heavy trade lambs sold from $150-$180. Heavy lambs sold from $165-$186 and extra heavy lambs made $176-$195. Merino lambs 22kg and above made to $165 and crossbred hoggets sold to $190.
Prices eased $20 for the mixed quality yarding of mutton sheep. Medium 3 score Merino ewes 18-24kg sold from $104-$140. The best crossbred ewes made $175, Merino ewes sold to $180 and Merino wethers to $177.
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday the agents yarded 3300 lambs, and 1850 sheep, 400 more than the last sale two weeks ago.
The NLRS said it was a fair to very good quality penning. Heavy and extra heavy weights were well supplied, coming off crops and supplementary feed. There were limited supplies of good quality plainer condition lambs available for restockers.
The usual processors operated, but not all regular store orders were able to procure lambs due to the low supply.
Demand for heavy and extra heavy weight lambs was weaker, and this with some large yardings at other centres were the major factors in the much cheaper market trend. Heavy weights were less affected. Some sales were firm in the lighter end of the heavy weight, mostly due to local butcher demand.
Trade weight lambs also sold cheaper. The quality of lambs available to restockers was a factor in cheaper prices for those returning-the paddock.
The sheep market also recorded cheaper market trends, well down on the previous sale. Merino sheep in full wool still attracted price premiums; however, demand and competition was not as strong as in previous markets.
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,050 lambs, 730 more than last week, and 7150 sheep, 2550 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to that of previous sales. There were good numbers of well-finished and grain-assisted lambs offered along with the plainer types. The usual buyers competed in the easier market.
A few pens of early new season lambs sold from $112-$150, or 681-700c/kg. Light old lambs made $120-$124. Trade weights were $3-$5 easier at $124-$149.
Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were firm to $3 cheaper. Heavy lambs sold from $149-$166. Extra heavy weights made $165-$212. Carcase prices averaged 631-650c/kg.
Mutton sheep quality was very mixed. Most were Merinos and prices slipped, particularly for heavier lines. Merino ewes sold from $105-$186. Crossbreds made $112-$170 and Dorper ewes sold from $13-$165. Merino wethers made $113-$154.
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,512 lambs, 1124 fewer than the last sale two weeks ago, and 3600 sheep, 1003 less.
The NLRS said the yarding included 4000 Merino lambs and fewer extra heavy lambs. Quality was mostly good to average, with more plainer lambs. Most the usual processors attended, but not all operated fully.
Competition was generally weaker, with prices for heavy lambs from $8-$12 cheaper, medium trade lambs were from $3-$5 easier and some sales were up to $8 lower. Light lambs had the best competition selling close-firm. Restockers and feeders paid $134-$146 for lambs and $95-$110 for lighter lots. Better covered Merino lambs made $120-$168.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $116-$120. Light trade weight 2 scores made $122-$132, averaging 710c/kg. Medium trade weight 2 and 3 scores made from $128-$157 and the heavy trade weight 3 and 4 scores sold from $149-$174, or 600-711c/kg, to average 670c/kg.
Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $163-$180 and extra heavy 4 score lambs made $179-$220. Six pens sold for more than $200. The best of the hoggets sold from $135-$172.
The sheep were of mixed quality, with some good drafts of Merino ewes and wethers. There was also an easier trend in the market with light-medium weight sheep selling from unchanged to $5 lower, heavy sheep sold $5-$8 easier and extra heavy weights were $10-$13 cheaper.
Light weight 1 and 2 score mutton sold from $75-$98. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $96-$139, or 457-550c/kg. Merino ewe mutton averaged 520c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $148-$188, averaging from 460-470c/kg. Medium weight Merino wethers made $111-$130 and heavier pens of 3 and 4 scores sold from $134-$170, averaging 510-520c/kg.
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,947 lambs, 5258 fewer than last week, and 3187 sheep, 1100 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained mostly good, with heavy and trade weight lambs well-supplied. The usual buyers attended, although not all operated fully.
Light weight and trade weight lambs generally sold firm. Heavy lambs were $5 easier in places. The best heavy lambs sold to $236, with 24 pens selling above $200. Heavier trade weight lambs sold from $153-$170 and averaged 670c/kg. Several processors reported a considerable drop in returns on lamb skins.
Feeders and restockers were active, purchasing feeder lambs from $121-$157 and lighter drafts for $70-$110. A run of 690 young Merino wethers returned to the paddock at $140.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $105-$120. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $126-$152 and averaged 710c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $142-$156, with heavier weights making $153-$170, or 620-700c/kg, for an average of 670c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $156-$200 and extra heavy export lambs made $200-$236, at 625c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $112-$142, to average close to 670c/kg. Heavy hoggets sold to $165.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades, with some good runs of heavy crossbred sheep and heavy Merino wethers selling to $172. Sheep continue to sell to strong demand. A run of medium weight Merinos averaged 540c/kg.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $72-$100. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $91-$142, or 425-560c/g, with Merino mutton averaging 540c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $130-$148, heavy Merino wethers from $139-$172 and medium weights from $106-$136. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep made $123-$180 and with heavy rams sold to $160.
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,000 lambs, 500 more than last week, and 2000 sheep, 500 more.
The NLRS said the price gains of the previous week were stripped from the market, with lamb prices back by $10-$30. The usual trade and processor buyers were joined by local specialty butchers and a good field of restockers who were very active on full wool Merino lambs and sheep.
A single crossbred wether offered on behalf of the Royal Flying Doctor Service sold to Thomas Foods International for $248. The mixed quality lamb offering comprised mainly of Merino lambs. The few pens of supplementary-fed Merino and crossbred lambs offered a touch of shine to an otherwise fair to average offering.
The small number of light young lambs sold from $64-$110. Light older lambs made $52-$80 and were back by $10 per head, and medium weight lambs to 20kg cwt sold from $70-$130, back by up to $20.
The trade and heavy weight lambs sold from $134-$200 and were back by $25-$30. Light hoggets remained firm at $82-$127, but the heavier weights eased by $5-$10 to $88-$184.
Several pens of young Merino ewes sold from $60-$82. Light ewes ranged from $78-$110 and were back by up to $15. Heavier weight ewes remained firm at $90-$168. A very mixed quality offering of Merino and crossbred wethers sold from $96-$155 and rams made $82-$170.
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2730 lambs, 803 more than last week, and 835 sheep, 254 fewer.
The NLRS said the usual small field of trade and processor buyers, and some restockers, were active. Quality was again mixed as the effects of winter take hold.
The strong rates of recent weeks were cut away as prices eased by $8-$15 for some of the best of the lambs and more in places.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade for $80-$106 and light weight trade 2 and 3 score types made $113-$118. Restockers paid $110-$122 for the lighter weights and up to $138 for light trade types. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $121-$148, to average 610c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $134-$177, with the very best averaging 630c/kg. Heavy lambs eased over $20 to $170-$205. The best of the hoggets made $120-$163, a fall of $10, and the lighter weights sold from $58-$112.
Sheep eased up to $25 for the heavier selection. Light weight ewes sold from $85-$90. A pen of light weight Merino ewes with young crossbred lambs sold to a restocker for $156. Medium weight ewes sold from $116-$130 and heavy ewes made $139-$175, down $10-$25 and more in places. A small number of wethers sold from $95-$155 and rams made $60-$140.
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6765 lambs, 2435 fewer than last week, and 9300 sheep, 3911 more.
The NLRS said the yarding was dominated by lambs, with prices easing $5-$10 for light weight lambs and $5 for trade weights. Heavy weight lambs sold $5 dearer and up to $174.
Light weight lambs made $65-$110 and Merino lambs with a fleece suitable for airfreight sold from $95-$123. Trade weight lambs eased to $105-$150. Heavy lambs made $155-$174. Restockers paid from $40 for light store Merino lambs up to $136 for the wether lambs with a fleece.
Mutton sheep prices followed the same trend with light weight ewe prices easing to $49-$90. Heavy ewe prices gained $5, with the best heavy ewes with a 7.5cm fleece making $140. Processors paid $55 for young plain blue tag ewes and to $121 for heavier ewes. Restockers paid $86-$135 for quality ewes with a 7.5cm fleece.
Trade weight ewes with a full fleece sold for $85-$125. Heavier prime 3 and 4 score ewes with a 7.5cm fleece made $110-$140. Light store ewes sold for as low as $20 and better framed stores with a full fleece made to $106.
Processors paid $70-$135 for wethers with a 7.5cm fleece. Restocker and feeder buyers paid $65 for light wethers and up to $124 for large framed lines with a full fleece. Live export wethers sold for $80-$101. Ram lambs sold from $29-$145, depending on size, and older rams made $30-$90.
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2130 lambs, 480 more than last week, and 980 sheep, 80 more.
The NLRS said more very small store lambs were offered. The market for heavy and trade lambs was $7-$8 cheaper, with less restocker interest in the trade lamb section.
Restockers bought very small lambs for $43-$84, light weights for $75-$121, light trades for $118-$128 and trade lambs for $120-$135. Light trade lambs made $110-$117 and medium trades $133-$142. Heavy weight lambs sold from $137-$167 and extra heavy weights made $164-$200.
More light weight sheep were offered. The mutton market eased $3-$9 from the recent highs, but sheep still sold to very strong competition. Very light sheep made $55-$82, light weights $94-$105, medium weights $100-$129 and heavy weights $130-$158.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.