LAMB prices fell further in saleyards early this week, despite recent price drops prompting lower yardings in some New South Wales saleyards.
Trade and export demand was more subdued, with restocker bidding underpinning the light and light-medium trade weight prices. Domestic buyers also bought fewer heavy lambs.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said more lambs at some NSW saleyards are getting drier in their skins with more seed and at Deniliquin several pens of young trade lambs lacking carcase finish were passed in after struggling to gain processor support.
Only at Tamworth, Corowa and Forbes in NSW, and at Dublin in South Australia, light 12.1-18kg cwt new season lambs make more than 600c/kg at times, and only at Corowa did young 18.1-22kg trade weights sell for more than 600c/kg. Restockers paid up to 805c/kg and 906c/kg cwt for some lines of first cross ewe lambs at Naracoorte.
Trade weight new season lambs generally made 420-590c/kg and the heavy lambs 430-540c/kg.
NLRS indicators quoted lower
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS Eastern State Daily Indicators for all lamb categories and for mutton were quoted lower. The lamb ESDIs are: restocker 561c/kg, down 5 cents; Merino 436c/kg, down 15c; light 490c/kg, down 9c; trade 512c/kg, down 6c and heavy 507c/kg, down 3c. The national trade lamb indicator fell 4 cents to 518c/kg and the heavy indice is on 509c/kg, also 4 cents lower.
The ESDI for mutton is 5 cents lower on 345c/kg and the national indicator is down 7 cents on 348c/kg.
Over the hook prices fall
In NSW, the NLRS quoted 2-4 score over-the-hook lamb rates across all weight classes as lower this week, after an influx of young lambs last week and poorer quality resulted in prices falling. The 18-22kg grid is 16 cents down on 500-590c/kg; 22.26kg lambs are 19 cents down at 520-580c/kg, and Merinos 16-22kg are 15 cents lower at 430-530c/kg.
Mutton rates also lowered, with 14-18kg carcases down 23 cents to 240-300c/kg, 18-24kg sheep down 31 cents to 280-350c/kg and 24kg+ mutton 28 cents lower on 300-360c/kg.
In Victoria, the NLRS said lamb over-the-hook indicators declined across all categories this week, with new season lamb supplies increasing and reports of exporter and domestic contracts filling well in advance. Lambs from 16-24kg are quoted at 530-580c/kg, down 30-48 cents, 26kg+ lambs are down 25 cents to 540c/kg and Merinos 16-22kg are at 500c/kg.
Mutton indicators also followed a lower trend in Victoria, with medium weight mutton averaging 348c/kg cwt. The 14-18kg sheep are 17 cents down at 290-330c/kg, 18-24kg mutton is 13 cents lower at 340-360c/kg and 24kg+ sheep are bringing 310-350c/kg, down 10 cents.
In South Australia, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb indicators were lower across all categories week-on-week, with trade weight lambs averaging 527c/kg cwt. Lambs from 16-24kg are quoted 20-22 cents lower at 500-580c/kg, 24-26kg carcases are 22 cents lower at 500-540c/kg and Merinos 16-22kg are worth 20 cents less at 450-470c/kg.
Medium and heavy weight mutton indicators decreased 10c/kg cwt to 240-360c/kg, but 14-18kg carcases were quoted 12 cents higher at 260-350c/kg.
In Tasmania, 2-4 score OTH lamb rates were quoted lower, except for 0-16kg rates which were unchanged at 540-560c/kg. The 16-20kg rates were 10-20 cents lower at 560-580c/kg and the 20-26kg+ lambs are 15 cents down to 570-580c/kg. Mutton rates were unchanged, with 0-18kg sheep at 310-350c/kg and 18-24kg rates within the range 330-360c/kg.
Western Australia’s OTH rates were not available when this report was published.
Dubbo’s new season trade lambs slip $4
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 25,360 lambs, 13,140 fewer than last week, and 9500 sheep, 1300 less.
The NLRS said with the cheaper market of the previous sale lamb numbers fell considerably. It was a mixed yarding with a reasonable selection of new season lambs and heavy weight old lambs, and a large percentage of Merino lambs and hoggets.
Light weight lambs sold firm, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores making $76-$86. Trade weight new season lambs were $4 cheaper, with 18-22kg 3 scores selling from $93-$134 to average 509c/kg cwt. Over 23kg new season lambs sold from $127-$155. Heavy weight lambs were $5 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 scores making $90-$170. Merino lambs were $7-$10 cheaper, with the trade weights making $71-$109 and heavy weight lines to $132. Restockers paid up to $107. Hoggets sold to $100.
It was principally a good quality yarding of sheep, with some excellent lines of properly-finished ewes and wethers. Ewes were $3-$6 cheaper, while wethers sold up to $8 easier. The 2 score ewes sold from $39-$74. The better 3 and 4 score crossbred ewes made $71-$122 and the Merinos sold to $116. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $71-$122.
Corowa’s light lambs dearer
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 9639 lambs, 85 fewer than last week, and 4827 sheep, 566 more.
The NLRS said the number of new season lambs lifted to 7700. Quality was good in the trade and heavy weights and there were more light lambs, which were keenly sought by restockers. Some of the lambs were starting to dry in the skin. All the usual buyers operated along with increased restocking competition in a market where light lambs were dearer. Trade weights averaged cheaper, but sold stronger as the sale progressed and heavy lambs were cheaper.
New season lambs sold to restockers for $65-$109. Trade weight new season lambs were generally $3-$4 cheaper at $106-$132, to average 550c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs ranged from $127-$145, or 530-540c/kg cwt, with a single pen of extra heavy new season lambs making to $146.
Old trade weight lambs sold to a cheaper trend at $90-$122, or 470-480c/kg. Old heavy lambs made to $138. Merino trade weights sold from $88-$98, with the heavier run making to $121.
Sheep quality varied and prices eased $4-$7. Medium weights sold from $62-$90 and heavy weights reached $107.20. Better covered sheep ranged from 360-380c/kg cwt.
Deniliquin agent pass in young trade lambs
At the Deniliquin saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 7691 lambs, 856 fewer than two weeks ago, and 2658 sheep, 326 less.
The NLRS said the regular buyers operated in a much cheaper sale compared to a fortnight ago, though the general lamb market has experienced significant price corrections since Deniliquin’s September 8 sale. The quality of the young lambs was plainer, with more lambs showing dryness in the skin and some seed infestation. Pens of young trade lambs lacking carcase finish struggled to gain processor support and agents passed in several runs for shearing and further paddock finishing.
The market reached a top of $147.20 for export-type young lambs estimated to weigh about 28kg cwt. The lead pens of heavy young lambs over 24kg cwt sold from about $130 to a top of $147.20, or around 490-520c/kg cwt. The heaviest lambs returned the lower carcase rates.
The bulk of the yarding comprised trade weight lambs in a weight bracket of 20-23kg and these mostly sold from $102-$124, or 503-520c/kg. Some pens of domestic slaughter lambs sold for less than 500c/kg.
The better bred lines of light weight young lambs sold from $83-$98, with some selling to restockers. A run of very small and immature Merino lambs off station country sold from $37-$45 to restockers.
The offering of old season lambs was limited to a few hundred and most were sold in odd pen lots as tail-end drafts. Prices for these were cheaper, up to $128 for a very good pen of Dorpers, though averaging less than $80 over the offering.
The sheep yarding comprised mostly Merino ewes and prices were noticeably cheaper than a fortnight ago, but similar to recent sales. Two lines of heavy Merino ewes in big skins made from $104-$108. Extra heavy crossbred ewes sold to $107, but sales above $100 were limited. Most ewes were leaner trade weight types which sold from $63-$92. The better drafts of mutton were estimated at 300-330c/kg cwt.
Tamworth’s quality young lambs $7-$9 cheaper
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 1650 lambs, 1330 fewer than last week, and 600 sheep, 400 less.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was very mixed, with a limited supply of good quality lambs. The usual buyers attended. Demand was weaker and resulted in cheaper trends.
Good quality trade and heavyweight young lambs sold $7-$9 cheaper. Well-finished old lambs made $5-$6 less. Several lines of secondary quality and lightweight Merino lambs were penned. The sheep sold firm to $3 cheaper.
Forbes’ trade lambs hold firm
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,925 lambs, 9204 fewer than last week, and 7892 sheep, 333 more.
The NLRS said 12,000 new season lambs were penned and quality was very mixed. There were some good runs of well-finished lambs and plainer drier types. The usual buyers were active, along with restockers, in a fairly steady market.
New season lambs to restockers sold from $80-$117. Trade weights held steady, with some sales dearer, at $108-$134. Heavy lambs sold firm to $2 better, at $124-$152. Carcase prices ranged from 533-554c/kg cwt. Old trade weight lambs sold from $106-$121. Heavy lambs made from $120-$155 and extra heavies $145-$166.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality continued to be mixed. Prices slipped $7. Merino ewes sold from $70-$105. Crossbreds made from $76-$102 and Dorper ewes from $70-$94. Merino wethers sold from $74-$113.
Bendigo’s light lambs $5-$10 cheaper
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,845 lambs, 388 fewer than last week, and 10,442 sheep, 2656 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was plainer, with more young lambs lacking finish. The regular buyers attended, but not all operated at capacity and bidding from the major export companies remained limited. The market fluctuated, with prices opening much cheaper than last week before gaining momentum.
Prices for most slaughter lambs over 20kg were $3-$5 cheaper. Lighter weight lambs sold to restockers and to processors for $5-$10 less compared to the strong prices of last week. The old lamb yarding of mostly secondary types in small lot sizes was discounted. The market reached a top of $155 for young lambs estimated to weigh about 29kg cwt — the only sale over $150. Export demand remained subdued and the limited offering of heavy young lambs over 25kg sold mostly sold from $138-$148, or 470-520c/kg cwt. Domestic buyers did not compete on the heavier lambs as in recent weeks.
The lead pens of trade weight lambs, 22-24kg, sold from $120-$135. Some of the early sales were estimated at less than 500c/kg, while later in the market there were prices of up to 560c/kg. The overall price range across the better finished pens of domestic lambs was 517-530c/kg.
Store lamb competition also varied and while there were premiums paid for the bigger lines of well-bred young lambs, most sales back to the paddock were $5-$10 below last week. Buyers from Ballarat and Euroa paid from $105-$120 for bigger framed store lambs, with the general run of light lambs to restockers making $80-$100.
The yarding of old lambs comprised mostly secondary types in small pen lots as tail-end drafts were sold. Prices reached $127. However, most sales were below $110 in the cheaper market.
All grades and weights of sheep were represented. Bidding from meat buyers was at much lower levels, with heavy sheep carrying excess fat being discounted the most. Pens of extra crossbred ewes averaged $25 cheaper, while heavy Merino sheep sold $12-$15 less. Prices for leaner medium weights held on better, although most sales were still $2-$8 cheaper than a week ago.
Ballarat’s lambs $5 cheaper
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7706 lambs, 46 more than last week, and 5028 sheep, 467 fewer.
The NLRS said young lamb numbers continue to increase at Ballarat. Quality was average and more lighter lambs were penned, suiting processor and restocker orders. Most of the regular byers attended, but not all operated fully.
Lambs generally sold to an easier trend, to be from firm to $5 down on last week. Restockers were active on lambs from $85.50-$111, and from $49-$81 for the lighter drafts. Most restocker lambs were a few dollars down on the high levels of past weeks. Restockers also paid from $62-$95 for shorn Merino wethers.
Old lamb numbers continue to decline along with the quality, with the better heavy drafts selling from $105-$120 and up to $130 for a pen of extra heavy lambs. Heavy hoggets sold to $83.
Light weight 2 score young lambs sold from $74-$88.50. Lighter trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$121 and averaged around 540c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs made $111-$128, and the heavier drafts sold from $128-$136.50, or 500-560c/kg to average around 530c/kg.
All weights and grades of sheep were offered. Sheep mostly sold $10 easier, with the lighter sheep least affected. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $42-$69. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $60.20-$88, or 270-375c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 345c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $66-$116 and heavy Merino wethers made $96-$119. The medium weights sold from $82-$95, 360-380c/kg.
Dublin’s restockers were active
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 15,445 lambs, 3864 more than last week, and 2824 sheep, 176 fewer.
The NLRS said the yarding of mainly new season crossbred and Merino lambs sold to easing competition from the regular trade and processor buyers. One major processor didn’t operate and supermarket bidding intermittent. Feeder buyers from the Adelaide Plains and Yorke Peninsula were active on light weight crossbreds at easier rates and larger numbers of new season Merinos attracted solid bidding.
Light weight crossbred lambs sold to feeder buyers for $4-$11 less at $70-$110 and they paid $75-$94 for light weight Merinos. Light weight 3 score crossbreds sold to trade buyers for $8 less at $90-$104, or an average of 468c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores eased a marginal $2 to $105-$117, to average 474c/kg. Heavy trade weights followed suit, easing $2 to $105-$130, to average 469c/kg. Heavy weights sold from $118-$137 to average 483c/kg.
Light weight Merino lambs sold to processors for $74-$93 and trade weights made $85-$101, to average 450c/kg.
Few old crossbred lambs were yarded. Heavy weights sold from $90-$120 and heavy weight old Merinos made $90-$130, or 400-450c/kg.
The mixed quality sheep yarding sold to solid competition from the usual local and interstate processors. Restockers were active and paid to $82 for ewes and to $94 for wethers. Light weight 2 score ewes were in demand, lifting $2 to $64-$88 and averaging 300c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes remained unchanged at $75-$100, to average 282c/kg. Heavy weight wethers eased $10 to $80-$107, to average 319c/kg. Rams were plentiful and sold up to $17 cheaper at $40-$71.
Naracoorte restocker interest keen
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5973 lambs, 1939 more than last week, and 1419 sheep, 248 more.
The NLRS said processor demand mainly eased for lambs, but restocker interest was keen. Quality was from average to good for the near regular following of buyers, who were more selective in their purchases.
Most light weight new season lambs went to restockers at $62-$97, though a few larger pens of first cross ewe lambs made up to $159. The 3 score trade weight lambs to processors sold from $88-$125 to average $5 cheaper, but some sales were closer to $10. Heavy weight 3 and 4 scores sold equal to a little easier at $122-$142 and extra heavy weights made to $160. Better quality trade and heavy new season lambs made around 510-535c/kg, while plain to average quality lines sold at about 460c/kg.
Light weight 2 score old Merino lambs sold from $51-$65, while light trade weight 2 and 3 score old lambs made $67-$86. Trade weights sold from $74-$90. Heavy 4 scores made $82-$112 and extra heavy 4 and 5 scores sold from $106-$126. The few heavy weight hoggets sold from $76-$105.
Ewes sold mostly $5-$10 cheaper and mainly ranged from 260-310c/kg cwt. The light weight 1 and 2 scores sold from $32-$54, medium weight 2 and 3 scores made $60-$76 and heavy 3 to 5 scores sold from $75-$95. Rams made $55-$85.
Muchea’s trade lambs $7-$11 cheaper
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5485 lambs, 1015 fewer than last week, and 7460 sheep, 782 more.
The NLRS said nearly 4400 new season lambs were yarded. Quality across the yarding was good, with solid numbers of prime lambs. All buyers were active, but there has been a larger turn-off of lambs direct to abattoirs in the warmer conditions, which affected prices. Prices dropped across the yarding, with light store lamb rates easing, though close to last week.
Light weight and store new season lambs sold from $34-$79 to be $3 easier. Light lambs sold to processors and live export for $58-$86, back $5-$9. Trade lambs sold for $7-$11 less at $82-$115, or around 460c/kg cwt. Old season lambs were mixed in quality and eased a similar amount, with most trade weight drafts averaging close to 400c/kg.
Most of the ewes were heavy weights and prices fell by close to $10, with the lighter weight and store drafts least affected. Light and store ewes made $30-$57 to be close to firm. The 2 score mutton sold to processors eased $3 to $46-$72, or around 275c/kg on average. Better conditioned ewes, including the heavy weight drafts, sold from $54-$76.50 back close to $13 and close to 250c/kg. Restockers purchased suitable young and mature ewes for $30-$86, with most around $10 easier than the last sale.
Wether prices were mixed, with the heavier bare shorn drafts selling to live export orders for close to $5 less at $85-$100. Lighter wether lamb and store drafts sold for export remained firm to slightly dearer at $75-$96. Wethers with a big skin sold to restockers and feeders for $60-$122 to be firm to $5 dearer. Ram prices remained solid for the young drafts, with ram lambs making $50-$105. Young drafts going to live export and feed made $54-$101. Old rams fell in value, with most selling to processors for $10-$30.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.