Domestic Lamb

Processor hunt is on for 18kg-plus lambs

Terry Sim, November 26, 2014
Hamilton saleyard Nov 25-14

Hamilton’s saleyards were full again today with about 42,000 lambs yarded

Domestic and export processors lifted their OTH rates this week, trying to catch up with saleyard rates and outbid restockers to secure sufficient killable 18 kg-plus lambs in the lead-up to Christmas.

Prices for quality lambs continued to rise in saleyards early this week, as the tightening season intensified competition for the limited numbers of quality trade and export weight lambs available.

After Tuesday’s sales, the National Livestock Marketing Service quoted the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator as up five cents to 471c/kg cwt and the heavy lamb indice at 473c/kg cwt, also up five cents. The ES mutton indicator was at 287c/kg, down three cents.

The national indicators also lifted for trade and heavy lambs, but dropped for restocker, light and Merino lambs, and for mutton. The national lamb rates today are: restocker 467c/kg cwt, down 2 cents; Merino 384c/kg, down 6c; light 437c/kg, down 2c; trade 470c/kg, up 5c; heavy 473c/kg, up 5c. The mutton indicator is at 288c/kg, down three cents.

Prices lift at Hamilton today

At Hamilton today, lamb prices took another jump despite agents yarding about 42,000 lambs. Kerr and Co Livestock agent Rob Claffey said there has been an oversupply of 18kg cwt and under lambs in previous weeks.

“Now the condition of the lambs is dropping and putting pressure on those weighted kill lambs – supply is getting tight purely based on the season.”

Mr Claffey said more lambs in the Hamilton area have been sold over-the-hooks this year than through the physical saleyard market.

“But the buyers want us to supply lambs for Christmas and the New Year, but producers are belong forced by the season to sell lambs earlier.

“They would just lose all their condition, so we have to sell them now, we’ve got no choice.”

Mr Claffey didn’t expect the supply situation for quality 18kg-plus lambs to improve until grain, lucerne or stubble-finished lambs came back on the market in about 10-12 weeks’ time.

Store lambs at Hamilton sold $3-$10 dearer today, he said.

“The dearer ones are more the lighter 13kg cwt lambs.”

The 18kg cwt lambs were $2-$5 dearer and the trade or heavy lambs were $5-$12 dearer, Mr Claffey said.

Restocker buyers came from the Riverina, south-east SA, Geelong and the Mallee.

“Lucerne, grain, stubble — they are all looking for a quick turn-around; have them gone by the end of January.”

NSW OTH lamb rates increase to attract supply

In NSW, the NLRS said OTH lamb rates moved higher this week, with heavy weight lambs showing the largest gains, to help ensure supply in coming weeks. Light and heavy weight mutton eased, while medium weight lines were unchanged.

NSW’s average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 472c/kg cwt, up 9 cents; 20-22kg, 476c/kg, up 9c; 22-24kg, 471c/kg, up 8c; 24-26kg, 469c/kg, up 9c; 26kg+, 456c/kg, up 16c; Merino 16-22kg, 412, up 12c. Sheep rates: 14-18kg, 245c/kg, down 3c; 18-24kg, 277c/kg, no change; 24kg+, 285c/kg, down 8c.

OTH export lamb rates up in Victoria

In Victoria, the NLRS said OTH lamb rates were higher week-on-week, with export weight lambs posting the greatest gains due to their limited supply. Mutton rates all recorded lower trends.

Victoria’s average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 455c/kg, up5c; 18-20c/kg, 460c/kg, up 4c; 20-22kg, 468c/kg, up 4c; 22-24kg, 473c/kg, up 5c; 24-26kg, 460c/kg, up 7c; 26kg+, 450c/kg, up 10c; Merino 16-22kg, 405c/kg, no change. Sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 240c/kg, down 10c; 18-24kg, 260c/kg, down 12c; 24kg+, 243c/kg, down 10c.

Heavy mutton OTH rates up in SA

In SA, the NLRS said lamb rates across all weight ranges edged slightly higher this week. Heavy weight mutton rates gained around 20¢/kg cwt, due to an increase in demand for good quality wethers, while light and medium weight lines were firm to cheaper.

Lamb and mutton OTH rates unchanged in WA

In WA, the lamb and mutton rates are unchanged. The average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 425c/kg; 18-22kg, 440c/kg; 22-26kg, 445c/kg; 26kg+, 433c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 393c/kg. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 235c/kg; 18-24kg, 250c/k; 24kg+, 250c/kg.

Light lamb OTH rates lift in Tasmania

In Tasmania, OTH lamb category rates are unchanged or higher. Sheep rates were unchanged apart from improvements in heavy and light mutton categories.

Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 450c/kg, up 20c; 16-18kg, 460c/kg, nc; 18-20kg, 480c/kg, up 10c; 20-26kg, 475c/kg, up 5c; 26kg+, 470c/kg, up 10c. Sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 270c/kg, up 10c; 14-24kg, 280c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 280c/kg, up 30c.

Heavy lamb prices up $7 at Dubbo

In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 14,500 lambs, 4025 more than last week, and 10,150 sheep, five fewer.

The NLRS said the fair quality yarding contained limited numbers of well-finished lines. Merino lambs were well-supplied and there was a good selection of light weight crossbreds. All the regular buyers operated in a solid market.

Light weight lambs were firm with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $42-$80. Trade lambs were $4 dearer with the 18-22kg new season lambs selling from $83-$116, to average 480c/kg cwt. The trade weight old lambs sold from $75-$112. Heavy weight lambs were $7 dearer, with the over 22kg old lambs selling from $107-$154.

Restockers paid to $109 for young first cross ewes and to $95 for new season lambs to fatten. Hoggets sold to $92.

It was principally a good quality yarding of mutton, with some top lines of well-finished ewes and wethers along with odd pens of plainer types. Light and medium weight ewes were $5 cheaper while the heavy eight ewes were up to $10 easier. Wethers eased by $5. 1 and 2 score ewes sold from $24-$60, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $60-$94 for Merinos and $92 for crossbreds. 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $68-$96.

Keen lamb restockers at Tamworth

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 1775 lambs, 75 more than last week, and 2185 sheep, 685 fewer.

The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to very good. There were twice as many young lambs as old and shorn lambs. The usual buying orders were in place.

Market trends throughout all lamb classes were dearer. Despite extreme heat over the weekend there was increased restocker demand for well-bred young lambs. Trade weight young lambs experienced significant price gains with an improvement in quality and limited supplies. Similar weight old lambs to the trade improved $6-$8.

Some heavyweight lambs were penned this week, but no market comparison could be made as lambs in the category have not been yarded for weeks.

The sheep market showed cheaper trends for a lesser-quality offering. Lower skin values also contributed to some of the price falls.

Most lambs $3-$4 dearer at Forbes

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,650 lambs, 850 fewer than last week, and 8300 sheep, 1300 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality improved slightly from the previous sales, with some good runs of well-finished shorn lambs offered. Most of the usual buyers competed, along with restockers, in a dearer market.

New season lambs to restockers sold from $45-$98. Light lambs lifted $4, selling from $93-$99, while trade weights were $3-$4 better, with prices ranging from $100-$115. Heavy and extra heavy weights were $3-$4 dearer, to receive from $118-$128. Carcase prices jumped to average from 482c/kg-501c/kg cwt. New season Dorper lambs sold from $91-$133, while old trade weight lambs sold from $78-$103. Heavy lambs lifted $4, selling from $107-$122 and extra heavy weights ranged in price from $117-$153.

Mutton numbers lifted slightly, although quality remained mixed. Merinos made up the majority of the offering and prices slipped $6-$8. Merino ewes sold from $68-$105. Crossbred ewes ranged in price from $72-$88, and Merino wethers sold from $71-$90.

Heavy lambs to $145 at Inverell

At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3103 lambs, 926 more than last week, and 1706 sheep, 1171 more.

The NLRS said the yarding consisted of a few pens of young lambs, a good supply of old trade weights and more heavy lambs. Young lambs sold to $130.40. Trade lambs held firm, while heavy lambs sold to a dearer trend, topping at $145.

The yarding of mutton consisted of a good supply of ewes and wethers, with several pens of heavy mutton offered. Competition was stronger with wethers selling to a top of $100.80 and ewes sold to $85. Restocker Dorpers sold to $115.

Large gallery of buyers at Hamilton

In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 34,232 lambs in the first split sale this year.

The NLRS said overall lamb quality and condition was good in the first Monday split sale, although there was not as much weight in the lines offered. A large gallery of buyers attended, with more restockers. Competition was steady throughout the sale.

The sale started with a good line-up of shorn store lambs and they made $59-$89, as the restockers paid from 460c/kg-500c/kg for lambs weighing between 13-18kg cwt. Light 2 score lambs fluctuated but were firm to $3 dearer, with store buyers coming from Bendigo, Swan Hill, Naracoorte, Shepparton, Riverina and local areas.

Light lambs 1 to 2 score made from $48-$81 and the light 2 to 3 score trade lambs made $76-$92, ranging from 430c/kg-450c/kg cwt. Medium weight 3 scores sold from $92-$125, while the heavy trade 3 to 4 scores made $124-$132, averaging from 450c/kg-460c/kg cwt. There few 4 score extra heavy lambs penned sold from $139-$143. The top lambs were estimated to weigh 28kg with a $10 skin, coming out at 475c/kg cwt. All price comparisons are against rates at the November 19 Hamilton lamb market.

Slaughter lambs $1-$3 cheaper on quality at Bendigo

At the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,660 lambs, 1392 fewer than last week, and 9747 sheep, 1216 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was much plainer this week, with the sale lacking weight and finish, which affected results. All the usual meat companies were represented, although the actual buying field was different due to some regular meat buyers attending the Hamilton sale this week. The market averaged $1-$3 easier on most slaughter lambs, with only four pens making over $130, to a top of $138. With many buyers lowering expected skin returns due to seed and dryness, on a carcase basis the sale was similar to the previous week, at averages of 460c/kg-480c/kg cwt for the better drafts of domestic and export lambs. The sheep sale showed a cheaper trend of $5-$8 for most mutton.

A good percentage of the lamb yarding comprised plain conditioned lightweight young lambs. Restockers from Swan Hill, Finley, Kilmore, Bendigo and Gippsland paid from $76-$86 for the better bred and sized store lambs, while several big lines of very small lambs under 12kg cwt sold at prices $3-$6 dearer, from $50-$68. Processers paid from $70-$88 for most light lambs to slaughter.

Competition for trade and export weight lambs fluctuated, with buyers favouring the cleaner-skinned drafts. Most of the lead pens of young lambs, weighing 23-26kg cwt, sold from $116-$128. The medium trade lambs made $90-$110. Supplies of quality heavy lambs were limited, with only four pens selling over $130, to a market top of $138 for a pen of young lambs estimated to have a carcass weight of about 28kg. Some pens of recently-shorn young lambs displaying good weight and finish sold for up to $121, around 500c/kg cwt.

The sheep yarding comprised a mix of heavy crossbred ewes and Merino ewes of various weights and grades, with only a few lines of wethers offered. Most sales trended $5-$8 cheaper. Most sheep sold in a range between 270c/kg-300c/kg cwt.

Extra heavy crossbred ewes sold from $81-$99.60, while a draft of large Comeback ewes topped at $110. The general run of Merino ewes sold from $62-$80. Defying the cheaper trend were some of the light weight Merino ewes which gained $7 in places at $33-$46.

Trade and heavy lambs up $2-$5 at Ballarat

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 39,560 lambs, 2192 fewer than last week, and 9747 sheep, 1216 more.

The NLRS said another average to good quality yarding of lambs was offered to the regular buyers. Reasonable numbers of trade and heavy lambs were penned, although there was not as much weight in the heavy lambs this week. Big numbers of processing and restocker lambs were offered, as the drier season continues. Competition was strong with the better quality trade and heavy lambs selling from $2-$5 up on last week, with lead lots in their weight categories making slightly over 500c/kg cwt. Restockers and feeders were active and paying mostly $69-$99 for lambs. Lighter drafts made $33-$61.

Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $66-$76. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $69-$97 and from $90-$115 for the heavy lots. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $104-$130, and ranged from 450c/kg-510c/kg, to average around 480c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $127-$143, to average around 485c/kg cwt.

Sheep quality was average to good, with all weights and grades offered for most of the regular buyers. Well-presented heavy Merino wethers sold to $95. Heavy sheep sold mostly around last week’s levels, with medium and light sheep selling $1-$5 easier with some crossbred sheep more affected.

Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $34-$57. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $46-$78 and ranged from 230c/kg-300c/kg cwt, to average around 280c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $66-$90, with heavy crossbred wethers making from $71-$107. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $75-$95, with medium weights making $55-$82, at around 300c/kg cwt.

Trade lamb prices $4-$5 better at Naracoorte

In SA at the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, agents yarded 8345 lambs, 3538 fewer than last week, and 3349 sheep, 221 more.

The NLRS said it was a plain quality offering, as very few lambs with any weight came forward. The usual trade buyers and numerous restockers bid freely during the sale.

Large numbers of very light lambs sold from $37-$78 to be firm, while light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs making $78-$89, to also be firm on last week’s prices. Restockers bid firmly to mainly pay $45-$87 for lambs.

Medium trade weight 3 score lamb prices fluctuated due to quality and ranged from $86-$115. These lambs ranged from $4 easier to $5 better in places and averaged 450c/kg cwt. Heavy trade 4 score lambs were firm to return from $90-$122, at 475c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export weight lambs were in short supply and the few offered improved in price, to range from $126-$142, to be $5-$10 dearer.

Lightweight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $38-$55 and the medium weight 2 and 3 score types ranging making $44-$80, to average 300c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 4 and 5 score ewes sold from $76-$96, while a single restocker bid to $105 for small numbers of young ewes. The few wethers sold from $65-$86 and rams made $14-$35.

Heavy trade lambs $5-$10 dearer at Dublin

At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6670 lambs, 1354 fewer than last week, and 3396 sheep, 428 less.

The NLRS said prices lifted in most categories among the mixed quality crossbred and Merino lambs, despite the general lack of quality. The limited number of quality lambs attracted strong bidding from the usual trade and processor buyers. Mid-North and Eyre Peninsula agents were keen to secure light weight lambs to feed. A large consignment of Dorper lambs was one of the few that drew subdued bidding.

Light weight 2 score crossbred lambs to feeders lifted $3-$5, selling from $73-$92, while 3 scores lifted $10, selling from $70-$97. Light weight 3 score crossbreds to trade buyers lifted $7, making $92-$99, to average 482c/kg cwt. The light trade weight 3 scores lifted only marginally, selling from $100-$103 and averaging 449c/kg cwt. Heavy trade weight lambs lifted $5-$10, ranging from $105-$130 and returned from 464c/kg-480c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs lifted $6, selling from $122-$135, to average 485c/kg cwt.

Light weight merino lambs to restockers sold from $26-$57. Full wool Merinos to restockers sold from $56-$71, while trade weight 3 scores to processors sold from $80-$101 and returned from 360c/kg-365c/kg cwt.

The generally good quality yarding of sheep sold to slightly easing competition from the usual buyers. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $4, selling from $50-$69, averaging 243c/kg cwt, while heavy weight 3 score ewes eased a marginal $2, selling from $68-$88, to average 252c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers were more plentiful, yet prices still lifted, selling from $70-$88, averaging 253c/kg cwt. Heavy weight rams were plentiful and prices eased, to return from $25-$44.

Trade lambs $12 dearer at Muchea

In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4325 lambs, 2725 fewer than last week, and 4100 sheep, 3157 less.

The NLRS said harvest opportunities dropped numbers considerably. Quality was plainer, with most lambs light weight or in store condition. The small number of trade weight drafts lacked finish. Ewes were of similar quality with some good heavy weight drafts. Competition was driven by the need to secure adequate numbers and all prices lifted with trade lamb prices rising significantly.

Light and store lambs to restockers and feeders made from $40-$82, with most up $4. Light lambs to processors and live export lifted by close to $5 and made $55-$105, while the plainer conditioned wether lambs to live export made from $58-$80. Trade weight lambs sold from $95-$132, with prices lifting by more than $12. The few prime drafts were up to $20 dearer, due to limited supplies.

Ewe prices continued to rise with most up $5. Light weight and poor condition ewes made from $33-$50, with 2 score ewes to processors making from $50-$78, up $4. Better conditioned 3 and 4 score ewes including heavy drafts, sold from $58-$90, with most $5 dearer. Larger numbers of crossbred ewes were dearer by close to $10, with prices of $45-$89.

Wether prices remained strong with export weight drafts making from $70-$102, $5 dearer. Lighter weight and store drafts ranged from $48-$89, with prices firm to $5 dearer. Rams sold well, with ram lambs from $70-$95 and younger drafts making $40-$67. Old rams to processors made from $15-$55 and were $5 dearer.

Source: NLRS, Kerr and Co Livestock.

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