Competition increased for sheep in saleyards offering good numbers mid-week, but processors could afford to be more selective on lambs, with trade and heavy weight rates generally slipping.
Prices for quality trade and heavy lambs improved in NSW, but fell in other centres, especially in Victorian saleyards, where more prime lambs were available.
Elders Bendigo livestock manager Nigel Starick said lamb prices were $8-$15 cheaper for slaughter lambs, with processors quoting good supplies available direct. There were no new forward contracts available and those recently announced closing soon.
“They are getting plenty of numbers out of the north, with a lot of Merino lambs being contracted, but few crossbreds.”
Mr Starick said seasonal conditions were forcing lambs into saleyards.
“A good rain would change everything, but it is just not happening.
“It is just dry here at the moment and I think next week will be tough enough too,” he said.
“If we can get this glut out of the road and get a good rain it would change everything.”
NLRS restocker indicators lift
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted its Eastern States Daily Indicators for restocker lambs as up one cent to 542c/kg and Merino lambs at 486c/kg, up three cents, after Tuesday’s saleyard sales. But the light slaughter lamb indicator fell five cents to 506c/kg, the trade lamb indice is down four cents to 533c/kg and heavy lambs closed at 540c/kg, down three cents. The national trade lamb indicator is on 539c/kg and the heavy lamb indice is 543c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton is up three cents to 370c/kg, and nationally the mutton indicator is 367c/kg.
Over-the-hook lamb rates lift
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates were marginally higher week-on-week, while a couple of contributors are taking a wait-and-see approach in response to rising saleyard prices. Mutton prices across all weight ranges were dearer.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-24kg, 500-560c/kg, up 6-7 cents; 24-26kg, 500-540c/kg, up 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 440-520c/kg, up 5c. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 240-320c/kg, up 10c; 18-24kg, 270-350c/kg, up 9c; 24kg+, 310-350c/kg, up 9c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates lifted across the majority of categories this week, with trade weight lambs up 10c/kg cwt, while Merino lambs remained unchanged. Mutton rates were marginally dearer week-on-week.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540c/kg, up 20 cents; 18-24kg, 540-560c/kg, up 10c; 24-26kg, 520-540c/kg, up 15c; 26kg+, 520c/kg, up 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, no change. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 290-330c/kg, up3c; 18-24kg, 320-340, +3; 24kg+, 310-320kg, up 3c.
In SA, the NLRS said over-the-hook trade weight lamb rates reached tops of 560c/kg cwt, while Merino lambs averaged 510c/kg cwt. Mutton rates edged higher, with medium weight carcases averaging 335c/kg cwt.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530c/kg; 18-24kg, 530-560c/kg; 24-26kg+, 520-530c/kg; Merinos 16-2kg, 510c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-320c/kg; 18-24kg+, 320-350c/kg.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted the upper limit for 16-18 kg lambs as down 50c/kg but all other rates for mutton and lamb were left unchanged this week.
Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 460-480c/kg; 16-18kg, 480-500c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-540c/kg; 22-26kg, 520-540c/kg. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 0-14kg, 280-300c/kg; 14-18kg, 290-330c/kg; 18-24kg, 310-330c/kg; 24kg+, 300-330c/kg.
This week’s WA OTH rates were not available this morning.
Dubbo trade and extra heavy lambs dearer
In NSW at Dubbo on Monday, the agents yarded 22,370 lambs, 1132 more than last week, and 10,640 sheep, 640 more.
The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding with a good number of heavy weight lambs and fair number of trade weights. All the regular buyers operated.
Light weight lambs sold at similar rates, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores making $54-$96. Trade lambs were $6-$9 dearer compared to two weeks ago. The 18-22kg 3 score lambs sold from $90-$134 to average 546c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were firm, while the extra heavy weights were up to $10 dearer. Over 22kg 4 score lambs sold from $113-$174. Merino lambs were up to $4-$6 dearer, with trade weights selling from $86-$114 and the heavy weight Merinos to $138. Restockers paid from $44-$111.
It was a mixed quality yarding of mutton, with Merino ewes and wethers $3-$6 dearer and crossbreds up $13. The 2 score ewes sold from $32-$76, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $78-$122 for Merinos and to $120 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $88-$125.
Tamworth trade lambs up $5-$8
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 1550 lambs, 1450 fewer than last week, and 3500 sheep, 1700 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to very good with trade weight and heavy lambs well-represented. Restockers were well catered for by the fair supply of plainer condition young lambs. There was more young lambs from the New England area showing varying degrees of growth and finish. The regular processors attended, but not the extra buyers from the pre-Easter sale.
Compared to the pre-Easter sale, demand was strong through all categories. Secondary quality light and medium weight trade lambs also sold to a dearer trend. Good quality well-finished trade weight lambs sold to a dearer trend, up $5-$8. Heavy weight lambs over 24kg were $1-$4 dearer. Restockers were active on young lambs, although there is no market comparison due to the lack of similar lambs in the sale prior to Easter.
The fair to good quality penning of sheep had some plain condition lots along with a few pens of full wool Merino ewes. The market trend was firm to dearer with some quality-related price change.
Bendigo’s light lambs lift
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 20,112 lambs, 4608 more than last week, and 8026 sheep, 192 more.
The NLRS said lamb numbers increased by about 25 percent in the first sale after the Easter break, with the dry conditions also a factor in the larger yarding. While the usual group of buyers attended, demand was patchy. The trade and export slaughter lambs were generally cheaper compared to the previous sale held a fortnight ago. The better bred and finished lambs maintained their value the best, while secondary types were the most impacted by the selective bidding. The market also weakened as it progressed, causing further price fluctuations.
The market reached a top of $178 for heavy export lambs estimated at around 33kg cwt; one of only three sales above $170. Light weight lambs (14-18kg cwt) sold to strong demand at $75-$96 for most to be the only category consistently dearer than a fortnight ago. Restockers from Horsham, Finley, Shepparton, Wycheproof and the local area paid to $109 for first-cross ewe lambs. A feature run of young longer-wooled Merino ewe lambs from the Riverina sold to $106.50. The general run of store lambs made from $52-$96.
The lead pens of heavy domestic lambs sold from $120-$132, but the market fluctuated for plainly bred and finished lambs weighing 20-22kg cwt, which mostly ranged from $100-$116. The 26-28kg export lambs sold from $135-$154 and extra heavy lambs made $155-$165, with just a few pens over $170. Most of the better quality trade and export lambs made 500-530c/kg cwt, but some extra heavy types and secondary lambs sold below 500c/kg.
Sheep generally gaining $5-$10 from pre-Easter rates. Heavy ewes consistently sold above $100 and up to $119.20, while Merino wethers made to $118. Most mutton was estimated to cost processors 350-380c/kg cwt, with select pens out to 400c/kg.
Ballarat lambs $2-$5 easier
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 29,814 lambs, 7553 more than last week, and 6706 sheep, 708 fewer.
The NLRS said the good quality offering was presented to the usual buyers, with reasonable numbers of well-presented trade weight and heavy lambs. Lambs generally sold $2-$5 easier than last week, with extra heavy export lambs making to $180.
Prices fluctuated for the plainer trade weight lambs as buyers were more selective. Restockers and feeders were active and they paid mostly from $79-$115 and from $24-$64 for the lighter lots. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $78-$92.
Lighter trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $91-$116. Medium trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $106-$124 and heavier lots made $112-$137, ranging from 480-570c/kg cwt to average around 530c/kg.
Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $130-$169 and averaged around 520c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $166-$180. Heavy hoggets made to $135.
The sheep offering contained all weights and grades. Heavy Merino sheep were in short supply and wethers in a good skin sold to $110. Most sheep sold dearer to make up to $10 more, with many lines reaching 400c/kg cwt. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $45-$84. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold mostly from $75-$109, or from 300-415c/kg to average around 360c/kg.
Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $80-$118, with heavy Merino wethers selling to $108 and the medium weights making $76-$110 at around 385c/kg. Rams of all weights sold from $25-$78.
Forbes lambs firm to easier
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,350 lambs, 8531 more than last week, and 9700 sheep, 6125 more.
The NLRS said there were good numbers of well-finished lambs and plainer drier types. Most were heavy and extra heavyweight lambs. The usual buyers competed in a firm to easier market.
Light lamb prices held firm, selling from $82-$100. Trade weights were firm to $2 easier, making from $102-$126. Trade weight Merino lambs sold from $85-$120. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were firm to $3 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $127-$136 and extra heavies ranged from $135-$180. Carcase prices averaged from 509-536c/kg.
Most of the sheep were mixed quality Merinos. Prices lifted $3-$5. Merino ewes sold from $75-$122 and crossbred ewes from $76-$122. Dorper ewes made $72-$115. Merino wethers ranged from $84-$128.
Inverell lambs up $10
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2141 lambs, 811 more than last week, and 1067 sheep, 742 more.
The NLRS said there was a fair penning of light lambs, a good supply of trade weights and more heavy and extra heavy lambs offered. Quality was mixed, with several runs of well-finished lambs, but some lambs showed dryness in the skin. Competition was stronger with most categories selling $10 dearer. Hoggets also met a strong market.
The sheep were mainly of medium weight ewes and wethers, plus a few pens of heavy mutton. Prices struggled to hold firm for most sheep.
Dublin lambs down $5-$7
In SA at Dublin’s SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,703 lambs, 5873 more than last week, and 1981 sheep, 1352 more.
The NLRS said there was a good selection of heavy weight crossbreds and a very large proportion of light weight Merino lambs that sold to weakening competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. Restockers from the mid north and Yorke Peninsula were active on the many light weight Merinos available.
Feeder buyers paid $104-$107. Light weight 3 score lambs eased $5, selling to trade buyers for $80-$104 or an average of 490c/kg. Light trade weight 4 scores eased $6 to sell from $118-$120 or around 533c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores eased $7 to sell from $110-$130, or around 510c/kg. Heavy weights lambs also eased $7 to make $124-$168 or 505-516c/kg. Extra heavy weights sold for $160.
Light weight Merino lambs were plentiful and restockers paid $40-$78, while trade weights sold from $84-$94. Heavy weight 3 scores eased $6-$8 to make from $90-$128 and return 428-454¢/kg cwt. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $91-$118 and crossbreds sold to $100.
The yarding of mixed quality and weight sheep sold to erratic competition from a small group of trade and processor buyers. Trade buyers were keen to secure small lines of sheep, but rates eased after they filled orders. Restockers bid only occasionally and purchased wethers from $62-$78.
Light weight 2 score ewes to processors eased $3 to make $50-$90 and average 270¢/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes eased $9 to sell from $70-$101, averaging 299¢/kg. Heavy weight wethers attracted stronger bidding to lift $5 and make $90-$117. Heavy weight rams sold from $80-$102.
Naracoorte restocker lambs dearer
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2485 lambs, 495 more than last week, and 1065 sheep, 197 more.
The NLRS said the usual buyers were active on the yarding of mostly store conditioned lambs of mixed quality. There was increased restocker activity and prices fluctuated.
Lightweight lambs to the trade ranged from $85-$95, with lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs mainly ranging from $94-$99. Restockers were active and purchased from $70-$102, with prices firm to $3 dearer on last week’s rates. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $96-$112, representing a fall of $5. Heavy four and five score lambs mainly ranged from $120-$149, with increased buyer competition causing prices to remain firm. One pen of extra heavy lambs estimated to weigh 32kg made $174.
More ewes came forward and the lightweight 1 and 2 score types sold up to $69. Medium weight ewes lifted $5 to sell from $82-$91 and averaging 350c/kg cwt. The heavy four and five score ewes mainly ranged from $102-$120, a rise of $8-$10. Rams mainly ranged from $60-$75.
Muchea competition solid
In WA, at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6598 lambs, 1826 more than last week, and 7100 sheep, 4098 more.
The NLRS said quality was reasonable, but there were limited supplies of prime lambs. Lighter conditioned drafts of lambs and ewes dominated the supply. Competition remained solid from the usual buyers, though live exporter bidding was selective. Prices remained firm with some signs of firming as the market progressed.
Light lambs sold to restockers for $48-$65 and light lambs to processors and feeders were marginally dearer at $62-$95. Trade lambs sold from $88-$124, for an average of around 510c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were slightly dearer at $114-$134.50, or around 520c/kg.
Ewe prices remained similar, with light weight drafts $2 dearer, at $35-$65. The 2 score mutton to processors averaged close to 320c/kg cwt and ranged from $62-$94.50. There was a moderate supply of heavy weight that made $72-$100, equal to last week. Young ewes to restockers made $48-$74.50 and better quality mature ewes sold from $71-$79.
Wether prices eased slightly, with heavy export weight drafts purchased by processors and live export operators making $90-$112. Lighter drafts sold from $65-$100 to restockers and feeders. The best ram lambs made $95.50 and younger drafts sold to live export and feeders for $45-$78. Older rams to processors made $30-$67.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.