LAMB prices lifted in all weight categories early this week, as prime crossbred offerings declined in New South Wales, central Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian saleyards.
The dry season is restricting the supply of quality heavy lambs in NSW, South Australia and through the Bendigo saleyards, while Ballarat managed to offer more than 30 pens of heavy lambs that sold from $150-$165.
Rain boosted restocking demand at the Tamworth saleyards, with light lambs up to 12kg cwt with $2-$5 skins making $84-$91.50, or 718-814c/kg cwt. Demand was also strong among Victorian restockers at Bendigo where prices for the smallest and lightest lambs at less than 12kg with $1-$5 skins lifted by up to $14 to range from $60-$79 for most, or up to 977c/kg.
Restockers and feeders also lifted light and light trade prices in South Australian saleyards, with light 12.1-18kg lambs with $2-$10 skins making $56-$121, or 400-700c/kg, at Naracoorte and Dublin.
Dubbo stock agent Cleve Olsen said rain, the onset of harvest and lower prices had quietened the lamb turn-off. There no big numbers on properties, although some producers would have a few lambs to sell after harvest.
“If farmers are prepared to feed lambs, they should sell well into the New Year,” he said.
“The numbers are certainly not here, but it is just seasonally driven.”
NLRS indicators start the week positively
After Tuesday’s saleyards sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb are: restocker, 550c/kg, up 1 cent; Merino, 481c/kg, up 9c; light, 500c/kg, up 4c; trade, 513c/kg, up 8c; heavy, 513c/kg, up 9c. The national trade lamb indicator closed up 8 cents to 514c/kg, and the heavy indice finished up 10 cents to 515c/kg.
The ESDI and national indicator for mutton are on 334c/kg, down 2-3 cents.
Over-the-hook lamb rates lift
In NSW, the NLRS said lamb over-the-hook indicators increased across all categories week-on-week, with trade weights up an average of 13c/kg cwt. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 460-540c/kg, up 13 cents; 20-24kg, 510-540c/kg, up 13c; 24-26kg, 470-540c/kg, up 16c; Merinos 16-22kg, 420-500c/kg, up 30c.
NSW’s mutton over-the-hook indicators were slightly higher for all weight ranges. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 240-340c/kg, up 7c; 18-24kg, 290-340c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 240-320c/kg, up 7c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the-hook indicators edged higher this week, with trade weights averaging 490c/kg cwt. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 480c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 480-520c/kg, up 5-7c; 24-26kg+, 480, up 10-20c; Merinos 16-22kg, 430c/kg, nc.
Victoria’s light weight mutton over-the-hook indicators lifted slightly, while medium and heavy weight categories were 13c/kg cwt lower on average. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 290-300c/kg, up 7c; 18-24kg, 230-340c/kg, down 13c; 24kg+, 230-280c/kg, down 13c.
The NLRS said South Australia’s lamb over-the-hook indicators lifted an average of 20c/kg cwt across all categories this week, with trade weights averaging 507c/kg cwt. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 500-520c/kg, up 20c; 24-26kg+, 480-500c/kg, up 20c; Merinos 16-22kg, 470c/kg, up 20c.
SA’s light weight mutton rates were marginally dearer, while medium and heavy weight categories fell 13c/kg cwt. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 240-330c/kg, up 2c; 18-24kg, 230-320c/kg, down 13c; 24kg+, 220-300c/kg, down 13.
The NLRS quoted Tasmania’s OTH rates for lamb and mutton as unchanged this week. Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-18kg, 460-480c/kg; 18-26kg, 470-480c/kg; 26kg+, 480c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-18kg, 290-300c/kg; 18-24kg, 300c/kg; 24kg+, 280-300c/kg.
Dubbo lambs firm to dearer, sheep up $15-$20
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 13,179 lambs, 1709 more than last week, and 8155 sheep, 975 fewer.
The NLRS said prime crossbred lambs were in short supply in the mixed quality yarding, which comprised mostly Merinos and Dorpers. Most of the lambs have been shorn. Merino hoggets were also well-supplied. There were fewer store lambs and little restocking activity. All of the usual buyers attended, but not all operated in a firm to slightly dearer market.
Restocking lambs sold from $76-$94. Medium and heavy trade weights were firm at $126-$138 and the heavy weights were firm to $4 dearer at $140-$166. Most ranged from 530-580c/kg cwt. Merino trades topped at $116. The best of the hoggets reached $102.
Sheep quality was good, with prices regaining last week’s falls, lifting $15-$20, mainly on the medium weights. Medium weight Merino ewes sold from $69 up to $115 for lines in full wool. Heavy crossbreds made to $110 and wethers $112, or mostly 350-370c/kg cwt.
Tamworth’s young trade lambs lift $2, young lambs up $8
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2400 lambs, 250 fewer than last week, and 950 sheep, 150 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to good, with a large variation in condition. Light lambs suitable for restockers were well-supplied. Demand for all classes increased.
Restockers, boosted by weekend rainfall competed strongly on suitable young lambs, with the market trend $8 dearer and more in places when taking lighter weights into account. Trade weight young lamb’s averaged $2 dearer. Heavy young lambs sold up to $6 better. Old lambs also sold mostly dearer. However, in an odd weight class average weights were down, accounting for some price change.
A good percentage of well-finished medium weight sheep were penned. Market trends were dearer, with ewes as much as $8 dearer in places and the wethers improving by $9. Once again there was some weight-based price change.
Forbes’ new season lambs lift $5
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,100 lambs, 1322 fewer than last week, and 5550 sheep, 4596 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to the previous sale, with a good run of well-finished heavy and extra heavy lambs penned and some plainer types. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market.
New season lambs lifted $5. Light lambs averaged $107. Trade weights ranged from $116-$139 and heavy lambs made $137-$140. Old light lambs averaged $103. Trade weights sold from $108-$132. Heavy and extra heavy lambs lifted $5-$9. Heavy lambs sold from $132-$145 and extra heavy made $145-$176. Most carcase prices ranged from 550-592c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $94-$121.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was mixed. Prices eased $5, with Merino ewes selling from $70-$99. Crossbred ewes ranged from $70-$106 and Merino wethers made $70-$114.
Bendigo’s quality trade lambs $5-$7 dearer
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday the agents yarded 17,870 lambs, 4036 fewer than last week, and 15,700 sheep, 2055 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained very mixed due to the dry conditions. There was only a limited selection of well-finished export and trade weight slaughter lambs available in each agent’s run before quality tailed-off into store lambs. Like recent weeks, not all the regular export and trade orders were active.
Prices were $4-$7 dearer for the better finished pens of domestic lambs. However, plainer types lacking fat cover and showing dryness sold at similar rates to last week. Prices reached a top of $147 for young lambs estimated to weigh about 26kg cwt. The dry season continued to restrict the supply of heavy young lambs and there was only about six pens over about 25kg cwt, which sold from $140- $147.
The lead pens of heavy trade lambs sold from $128-$138, while the general run of domestic trade weight lambs sold from $103-$127. Young lambs displaying better carcase finish and potential made 490-530c/kg. However, plainer lambs lowered the overall carcase average to below 500c/kg across the sale.
Demand for store lambs remained very robust, with orders from Sale, Swan Hill, Wycheproof, Wangaratta, Echuca, Yea and the local Bendigo area. There wasn’t a lot of price change for the bigger framed store lambs which sold from $88-$105. However, prices for the smallest and lightest lambs at less than 12kg cwt lifted by up to $14 to range from $60-$79 for most.
The sheep were mostly ewes, with a limited number of Merino wethers. Prices for heavy crossbred ewes averaged $5-$7 easier, while the better quality trade weight mutton was firm to slightly dearer than last week. Light weight ewes in very plain condition trended cheaper.
Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $80-$95, with only one pen over $100 at $104.20. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $82-$101.60. Merino wethers reached a top of $98. Extra heavy slaughter ewes were costing processors an estimated 260-290c/kg cwt. Better quality runs of trade mutton made 310-340c/kg.
Ballarat’s better trade and heavy lambs lift $10
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 38,728 lambs, 7791 fewer than last week, and 14,722 sheep, 4016 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the trade weight and heavy lambs was good and there were large numbers of processing and restocker lambs.
Heavy lambs reached a market top of $165, with more than 30 pens of lambs selling above $150. The usual buyers plus extra northern competition operated strongly, with the better presented trade weight and heavy lambs selling up to $10 dearer than last week. Lighter trade weight lambs sold from around firm to a few dollars better.
Restockers and feeders were again active and paid mostly from $80-$110 for light and light trade lambs, with the lighter drafts selling from $40-$70. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $70-$88. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$115 and averaged around 490c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $104.50-$132.20 and heavier lots made $122-$147, or 490-560c/kg, to average around 530c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $135-$165 and averaged close to 540c/kg.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades with more heavy crossbreds. The usual buyers group plus some extra competition competed keenly in a market that fluctuated either side of firm. Some of the crossbred sheep trended a little easier, while the Merino sheep in a big skin averaged a little dearer in places.
Merino wethers made to $102 and sold mostly around last week’s levels. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $42-$82. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $57-$95 at 270-370c/kg cwt, with the Merino mutton averaging around 330c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $66-$105. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $80-$102 and the medium weights made $59-$95. Restockers also paid from $78-$99 for crossbred ewes, from $87-$90 for Merino ewes and from $51-$86 for Merino wethers.
Dublin’s trade and heavy lambs lift $4-$5
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5799 lambs, 38 fewer than last week, and 1924 sheep, 485 less.
The NLRS said the crossbred and Merino lamb offering consisting of a large percentage of store condition light weights. All of the usual trade and processor buyers bid keenly to secure the few quality lambs available.
Feeders and restockers from the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas, and the Adelaide Plains, were fierce bidders on store crossbred and shorn lambs. Light weight, shorn crossbreds sold to feeders made $98-$103. Heavier woolly crossbreds sold to feeders lifted $7 to $94-$102.
Light weight 3 score crossbred lambs sold to trade buyers lifted $8 to $100-$121, averaging an estimated 505c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $3 to $114-$118 and average 518c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted $4 to $117-$133, to average 503c/kg. Heavy weight lambs lifted $5 to $130-$140, to average 502c/kg. Light weight Merino lambs sold to restockers at rates up to $10 dearer at $56-$72. Light weight lambs sold to processors made $78-$83, averaging 428c/kg. Trade weights remained unchanged at $90-$101, to average 459c/kg. Heavy weights sold from $106-$135, to average 452c/kg.
The mixed sheep yarding sold to easing competition from a limited group of processor buyers. Restockers were occasional bidders and purchased Merino ewes for $67-$80 and crossbreds up to $106. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $7 to $55-$75, to average 276c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 scores eased $8 to $60-$90, averaging 253c/kg. Heavy weight wethers were scarce and lifted a marginal $2 to $89-$95, to average 306c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $45-$64.
Naracoorte’s good trade lambs lift $3-$4
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9507 lambs, 2825 fewer than last week, and 2410 sheep, 1185 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was again mixed, with large lines of light store conditioned lambs and some excellent weights in the top end of the new season lambs. A significant number of shorn lambs came forward for the first time and these sold to strong competition from the usual trade and processor buyers.
Restockers were again prominent, taking large numbers to turn out and grow on as prices ranged from firm for lighter weights up to better for the trade weight section. Light lambs sold to the trade ranged from $92-$100 to be firm. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs ranged from $90-$121, up $4. Restockers purchased in these categories from $72-$106 and paid slightly more than last week. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $101-$127, up $4, and averaging 525c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $120-$140 to be firm and extra heavy export lines sold to $150. Hoggets sold to $100.
Light 1 and 2 score ewes ranged from $57-$65 to be firm. Medium weight 2 and 3 score ewes were firm at $65-$88. Heavy ewes ranged from $76-$91, up $2. Rams sold to $45.
Muchea’s trade lambs $10 dearer
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards, the agents yarded 2823 lambs, 1049 fewer than last week, and 6800 sheep, 2600 more.
The NLRS said lambs suitable for the trade were in short supply and prices lifted $5-$10 for the few pens of good lambs offered. Restockers were active on suitable lambs and these were firm to slightly dearer. Light store lambs, mostly Merinos, sold close to firm at $15-$63.
Light lambs suitable for processors made $55-$94, up almost $5. Trade lambs mostly sold $10 dearer at $89-$125. Small numbers of heavy lambs sold to a top of $130, also dearer than last week.
Ewe prices were firm to $5 dearer, with restockers strong on all suitable drafts. Light ewes sold firm at $15-$47. Medium weight 2 score mutton sold $2 dearer to processors to average close to $53. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewe drafts made $45-$75 or close to 240c/kg cwt. Restockers purchased a large proportion of the ewe supply for $20-$82, at prices equal to $5 dearer than last week. Ewe hogget quality was plain and restockers paid $20-$78.
Wether demand was limited to export feeders and restockers with little price movement. Heavy weight drafts made $85-$92, with a few longer wool drafts making to $103. Lighter drafts sold from $40-$75, firm to $2 dearer. Good ram lambs made $71-$118. Rams suitable for export feeders made $25-$75 and old rams sold to processors for $5-$20.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.