TRADE and heavy lamb saleyard prices finished last week relatively firm around 600c/kg and mutton rates were also unchanged.
Small numbers of new season lambs continue to come into NSW saleyards, but in numbers insufficient to greatly affect old lamb rates.
However, most of the early new season lambs have been at good “killable” or trade weights suitable for butchers and supermarkets.
AuctionsPlus has reported the first new season lambs are selling online at prices $10-$15 above 2014 rates, and National Livestock Reporting Service figures for the past two weeks show trade weight (18.1-22kg) suckers are averaging 624-626c/kg cwt or $134-$137 a head. This compared with 571-613c/kg or $120-$131 for a similar period last year.
Cowra agents yarded about 770 new season lambs on Friday – almost double last week’s offering — with the 20-24kg cwt lines carrying $9-$10 skins making from $137-$155, or 591-630c/kg.
At Griffith, about 160 new season lambs were penned on Friday, with some 18.1-20kg Dorpers with $1 skins making $126 or 625c/kg. Other crossbred new season lambs with $9-$11 skins and 22.1-24kg cwt, sold for $154-$167, or 630-650c/kg.
NLRS indicators finish week generally firm
After Friday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for slaughter lambs were generally firm to slightly improved, although the restocker, Merino and light lamb categories lost 10-11c/kg over the week.
The ESDIs for lamb, their daily and weekly changes are: restocker 547c/kg, down 5 cents, down 11c; Merino 543c/kg, up 4c, down 10c; light 564c/kg, up 1c, down 10c; trade 597c/kg, no change, down 2c; heavy 603c/kg, down 1c, up 4c. The national trade lamb indicator was unchanged on 595c/kg and the heavy indice is firm on 603c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton closed firm on 398c/kg, losing 6 cents for the week, and the national indice finished firm on 396c/kg.
AuctionsPlus suckers making $10-$15 more last year
Online seller AuctionsPlus also offered small numbers of new season lambs last week, which sold at rates $10-$15 better than last year. Some 22-24kg lwt first cross lambs made $86-$92, 28kg suckers made $101 and a large line of March/April drop lambs at Gulgong weighing 30kg lwt sold for $115.
AuctionsPlus market operations officer Harriet Forster said sheep and lamb numbers increased just slightly to 29,804 head last week.
“With the correction in the wool market the divide between shorn and woolly sheep has become less pronounced, evident primarily in wether lambs.
“With winter lamb prices skyrocketing and sucker prices showing significant increase on last year, where will prices be heading this time next year?,” she asked.
“At what point will export slow down enough to cause a major price correction?”
Merino wether lamb numbers firmed on AuctionsPlus last week, with prices varying from $42-$100.50, to average $66. The top price was for unshorn, September/October drop Combadery blood lambs weighing 41kg lwt at Moree.
Ms Forster said Merino ewe lambs averaged $115 to be the highlight of the breeder lines this week, with grown lambs selling from $80 to a top of $150 for a Moorundie blood line in SA.
Proven breeders scanned to terminal rams made $100.50-$134 and aged scanned ewes sold for $90-$128. Merino ewes with Suffolk lambs in SA sold for $176.
Few lines of traditional first cross ewes were offered on AuctionsPlus last week, though in Glen Innes an offering of two-year-old Border/Dohne ewes scanned in lamb to Poll Dorset rams made $196. Some six and seven-year-old first cross ewes SIL to Border Leicester rams made $110.
Griffith trade weight lambs $3-$4 easier
In NSW at the Griffith saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 9900 lambs, 2584 more than last week, and 3600 sheep, 3025 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was similar, with good numbers of well-finished lambs and plainer types. Not all the usual buyers operated in the slightly easier market.
Price for light lambs held firm, at $106-$120. Trade weights were $3 to $4 easier, from $118-$148. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs held fairly steady. Heavy lambs sold from $150-$170 and extra heavy weights made $156-$201. Carcase prices ranged from 575-630c/kg. Merino and Dohne lambs sold from $105-$149.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality continued to be variable. Merino ewes sold from $82-$135. Crossbred ewes made $90-$138. Dorper ewes sold from $75-$134.
Cowra’s heavy lambs $5-$7 cheaper
At the Cowra saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 6050 lambs, 100 more than last week, and 1100 sheep, 380 more.
The NLRS said quality was good across the trade and heavy grades. Mainly heavy weights were penned, along with a handy run of trade lambs, including around 700 new season lambs. All the usual buyers operated and competition was solid for the new season and trade old lambs, but a little easier on the heavy grades.
Light lambs to the processors averaged $103. New season lambs made from $141-$151, or 610-616c/kg cwt. Medium and heavy trade weight old lambs sold firm to slightly dearer, from 570-581c/kg. The heavy trade weights sold from $128-$138. Heavy weight lambs sold $5-$7 cheaper, from 550-570c/kg. A number of extra heavy weight pens sold from $174-$193.
Mutton quality was generally good. Medium Merino ewes sold well and averaged $90, or 377c/kg cwt. Heavy first cross ewes were $5 dearer and averaged $123, or 358c/kg.
Shepparton’s best lambs firm to dearer
In Victoria at the Shepparton saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 884 lambs, 408 fewer than last week, and 498 sheep, 98 more.
The NLRS said apart from a few pens of lambs off irrigation, quality was generally very plain and mixed. Not all the regular meat buyers attended, but prices for the better quality slaughter lambs showing reasonable fat and fat cover were firm to dearer on some pens. Demand for secondary lambs lacking carcase finish was selective, and agents passed-in some pens.
The market reached a top of $190 for a small pen of heavy export lambs estimated at about 30kg cwt. Bidding for plainer finished and lighter lambs under about 20kg cwt fluctuated, with most making $77-$114 at varying carcase rates depending on breed type and quality. Odd pens of very small lambs sold at $52-$70, with only odd lots selling to limited restocker interest. A high percentage of the yarded were Dorpers, with the best trade weights making $104-$115.
There was only a limited selection of quality trade and export weight lambs, with the lead drafts selling from $142-$178, or around 580-620c/kg cwt for most. A single pen of extra heavy export lambs topped the sale at $190.
The mutton sale showed a stronger trend, despite the limited numbers. The few better lines of Merino sheep made around 400c/kg cwt, at up to $120 for heavy ewes. The lead pens of heavy crossbred ewes sold from $116 to a top of $131 for Dorpers. The general run of mutton was estimated to cost processors around 360c/kg cwt.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus