LAMB prices lifted in saleyards yesterday as supply and market demand shifted back in the favour of producers and restocker competition continued to underpin light and trade slaughter rates.
Processors also this week dropped their over-the-hook rates in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia after the dip in saleyard rates last week.
Although lamb prices eased at Dubbo on Monday with fewer new season lambs available, and at the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, with fewer restockers active, rates at most other saleyards were firm to higher.
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted a lift in the Eastern States Daily Indicators for restocker, trade and heavy lambs after Tuesday’s sales after several weeks – the first significant lift in slaughter lamb rates for about four weeks.
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the ESDIs for lamb were: restocker 621c/kg, up 11 cents; Merino 514c/kg, down 4c; light 552c/kg, down 5c; trade 537c/kg, up 6c; heavy 528c/kg, up 6c; heavy 528c/kg, up 12c. The national trade lamb indicator rose 7 cents to 538c/kg and the heavy indice lifted 14 cents to 530c/kg.
The ESDI and national indicator for mutton closed on 387c/kg, up 14-15 cents.
Over-the-hook rates pulled back
In NSW, the NLRS said lamb over-the-hook indicators trended down this week, after saleyard prices eased last week. Light-medium trade lambs fell 8 cents to 500-560c/kg, heavy trade were dropped 10 cents to 520-540c/kg and 24kg-plus lambs fell 10-13 cents to 480-540c/kg. Merino lambs were pulled back 13 cents to 410-510c/kg. NSW’s over-the-hook mutton rates have remained unchanged.
In Victoria, the NLRS reported over-the-hook lamb indicators as moving 10c/kg cwt lower for light and trade weight categories, and up to 15c/kg cwt lower on average for heavy weight categories, compared to last week’s levels. The rates for 2-4 score lamb carcases were: 16-22kg, 520-530c/kg, down 10c; 22-24kg, 520-530c/kg, down 15c; 24-26kg, 490-520c/kg, down 15c; 26kg+, 490c/kg, down 10c. Mutton indicators were 3-5c/kg dearer week-on-week, with medium weights averaging 357c/kg cwt.
In South Australia, the NLRS said OTH trade and heavy weight lamb indicators eased 3c/kg cwt on average, compared to last week, while light weight and Merino lamb indicators were unchanged. The 2-24 score lamb rates were: 16-18kg, 380c/kg, no change; 18-20kg, 440-530c/kg, down 3c; 20-24kg, 480-530c/kg, down 3c; 24-26kg+, 480-490c/kg, down 3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 420c/kg, nc. Mutton indicators lifted an average of 16c/kg cwt across all categories.
In Western Australia, the NLRS quoted OTH rates for lambs and sheep as unchanged this week. The 2-4 score lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 440-480c/kg; 18-22kg, 450-480c/kg; 22-26kg, 460-480c/kg; 26kg+, 440-460c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 420-450c/kg. Sheep rates were unchanged.
The OTH rates for Tasmania were unavailable when this report was published.
Central NSW producers watching saleyard rates
Forbes agent Scott Reid of VC Reid and Son agreed producers were keeping a close watch on saleyard prices before consigning lambs because they were not stretched for pasture.
“They’ve got the opportunity to keep them if they are not quite ready or they think the markets are not as solid as it was.”
Mr Reid said apart from the impact of flood waters, the Forbes area has had an “unbelievable” season, but he didn’t believed big numbers of lambs would be yarded before February.
“I think people aren’t pressured about feed and we are just going into harvest and once that happens there are going to be plenty of stubbles around for the blokes who are finished marketing lambs and want to run the rest through.
“But the sucker season here has been a lot longer than normal, it has held on – more than two months longer than it normally does,” he said.
“Normally the golden rule here is to market unshorn new season lambs before October, but the prices have held pretty strong into November now and we’ve sold a lot more lambs in the wool.
“They are starting to dry off a bit now, but they are still showing freshness and they’ve been getting 520c/kg-plus for them,” Mr Reid said.
“There are a lot of blokes out there that normally shear a lot of lambs that haven’t got many left to shear, they’ve taken the money.
“If buyers are of the opinion that there are going to be very big numbers of lambs in this area or central New South Wales come autumn-winter next year, I think they might have a rude shock on their hands.”
Mr Reid said most producers have sold their unshorn new season trade lambs straight off their pasture-fed mothers if they can get around $120.
“Virtually the better end of your lambs are still making that and haven’t come below that.”
He said producers were prepared to withdraw lambs from saleyard draws if saleyard rates dipped below this level.
“They’re saying if we can’t get that $120, they are off the market and we’ve got other options to run them through into next year and another factor was that there will be a lot of cheap grain ($120/tonne barley) around.
“They’re saying if we don’t get whatever our (price) figure is, we’ll feed them and they’re only going to put weight on and it is just going to end up more dollars per head for us in the future,” Mr Reid said.
“I can’t remember when I’ve seen most areas of eastern Australia have a good season all at once.”
Bendigo lamb producers looking to forward contracts of 540c/kg
FP Nevins and Co agent James Nevins said there not as many lambs available for sale around Bendigo this year after forced sales of ewes as late as April this year.
“As a consequence that has taken a lot of females out of the system, which has meant shorter sucker numbers.
“In saying that we got our break, we’ve got fantastic feed and it’s turned around and now guys can keep them (lambs),” he said.
“We’ve been selling the tops and the second in the drafts, and they are keeping their thirds, where previously they didn’t do that, we kept only our bottoms.”
Grass seed has been an issue, but producers have been very vigilant with spraying to control weed infestations, Mr Nevins said.
“Everyone is working to a forward contract – the forward contract for January is 540c/kg at the majority of place – and there is going to an exceptional run of heavy lambs around, there are going to be huge numbers.
“So I would have though the trade lambs might be competitive with that or dearer, if you can get a trade lamb, because the feed down here is heavy.”
Mr Nevins said lamb growth rates will explode with warm weather.
“They (producers) will miss their trade lamb boat very quickly.”
Dubbo’s trade lambs fall $2-$3
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,640 lambs, 740 more than last week, and 5556 sheep, 1514 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed. The number of new season lambs was limited and there more shorn lots. Merinos and Dorpers were in good numbers, but a large percentage of the run were hoggets.
Trade weight lambs were well-supplied and there were some very good heavy shorn old lambs. Light weight store lambs were in short supply. All the usual buyers operated in the cheaper trade market, although heavy lambs sold to a dearer trend.
Trade weight new season lambs were $2-$3 cheaper, with the medium and heavy new season lambs making $116-$133 and the old trades or shorn lambs $101-$125. Heavy lambs were $3 dearer at $119-$159. Carcase prices ranged from 530-570c/kg. Extra heavy lambs made to $180. Merino trades sold from $103-$127. The best of the hoggets made $120.
Merinos were best supplied in the sheep yarding. Prices were $5-$10 dearer, with full wool Merinos increasing the average. Medium weights sold from $69-$110. Heavy sheep made $105-$140. Carcase prices ranged from 350-410c/kg.
Corowa’s young trade lambs lift $2-$9
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 7800 lambs, 3700 fewer than last week, and 2300 sheep, 2400 less.
The NLRS said lamb numbers decreased significantly due to wet weather and lower prices last week. Quality slipped, with stock rain-affected and more secondary lambs offered. All the usual buyers attended, but not all operating fully in the strong market. Some processors commented that they were getting plenty of lambs delivered direct.
New season trade lambs sold from $2-$9 dearer. Light trade weight lambs sold from $112-$129, medium trade made $116-$139 and the heavy trade lambs sold from $128-$145 to average 563c/kg. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold from $145-$160. Old lambs 23kg plus were $10 cheaper at $125-$137.
Restockers continue to put a floor in the market, paying $102-$107 for 16-20kg 2 score lambs.
It was a mixed quality sheep offering that sold to solid bidding, though prices fluctuated. Heavy weight crossbred ewes made to $120. Merino ewes were $10 dearer and sold to $110. Wethers sold to $124 and hoggets made to $118.
Tamworth lambs firm to dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday the agents yarded 4000 lambs, 500 more than last week, and 1100 sheep, 400 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to good, with trade and heavy weight young lambs well-supplied. There was a good selection of well-finished old lambs. Restockers were well catered for, with a number of lines of well-bred light weight young lambs.
A little less processor competition had no effect on the market trends through the trade and heavy weight young lambs. The market trend was generally firm, with odd slightly dearer sales in the trade weights.
Restocker activity was high on the well-bred second cross light weight young lambs, making the market trend dearer. The quality of those lambs also contributed to the improved prices. The old trade and heavy weight lambs also experienced little change.
There was little change in price trends for the very mixed quality sheep yarding.
Forbes’ trade and heavy lambs firm
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 15,650 lambs, 300 fewer than last week, and 6150 sheep, 300 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality continued to be mixed. The 4250 new season lambs included more showing signs of dryness. The usual buyers competed in the fairly steady market.
Light new season lambs held firm at $105-$116. Trade weights were also firm at $116-$144. Heavy and extra heavyweights sold firm to $1 easier. Heavy lambs made $142-$150 and extra heavies $150-$157. Carcase prices averaged 576c/kg.
Old lambs followed a similar trend to remain firm. Trade weights sold from $110-$128. Heavy weights made $135-$143 and extra heavies $142-$166.
The sheep were mostly of Merinos and quality was very mixed. Prices jumped, with Merino ewes selling from $80-$135. Crossbred ewes made $86-$118. Merino wethers sold from $86-$128.
Deniliquin market strong
At the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6300 lambs, 2900 more than last week, and 1350 sheep, 566 less.
The NLRS said it was a mixed quality lamb yarding. Two major domestic processors were absent and most other buyers present didn’t operate fully, but the market was strong. Several pens of ewe lambs distorted carcase prices.
Light trade weight new season lambs sold from $108-$118, medium trades made $121-$135 and the heavy trade lambs sold for $135-$143, averaging 536c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold from $141-$148 and extra heavy lambs to $158. Old lambs, 23kg-plus cwt, made $130-$138. Restockers continue to put a floor in the market.
There was solid bidding on the mixed quality sheep offering, but prices fluctuated. Heavy weight crossbred ewes made to $118, Merino ewes to $125, wethers to $115 and hoggets to $120.
Bendigo’s young trade lambs lift up to $9
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,544 lambs, 3015 fewer than last week, and 3805 sheep, 1895 less.
The NLRS lamb quality was good to very good, with lighter store young lambs at the end of most agent’s runs. More new season lambs showing good cover and finish were yarded from southern districts. The usual buyers attended the more spirited and stronger market.
Prices for light young lambs were firm to $3-$4 dearer as restockers from Shepparton, Birchip and locally competed with the processors. Medium trade weight new season lambs were generally $2-$5 dearer and the heavier weight lambs mostly sold $5-$9 higher.
Restockers paid $96-$116 for good quality stores and from $35-$66 for lighter lots, or from 490c/kg to more than 600c/kg. They also purchased a pen of first cross ewes for $130.
The light weight 2 score young lambs sold to processors made $74-$88. Light trade weight 2 and 3 score young lambs made $102-$109, averaging 540c/kg. Medium trade weight 2 and 3 score new season lambs sold from $105-$126, with heavier trade weight 3-4 scores making $123-$140. Most costs varied from 500-546c/kg, to average an estimated 525c/kg.
Heavy lambs sold from $136-$146 and the extra heavy 4 scores made $148-$162, averaging around 520c/kg. Hoggets of good quality sold from $100-$115.
It was a mixed yarding of sheep of all weights and grades. Prices lifted, with most sales of light and medium weight mutton $5-$10 dearer and heavy 3 and 4 score sheep sold $4-$6 dearer. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep made $72-$84 and very light 1 scores sold from $44-$62. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $83-$102 and a pen of full wool ewes made $110, at cwt prices of 350-435c/kg. Merino ewe mutton averaged 410c/kg.
Heavy 4 score crossbred ewes sold from $106-$135 to average 373c/kg. Heavier 3-4 score Merino wethers sold from $115-$125 to be fully firm at 400c/kg. Medium weight 2 and 3 score wethers made $95-$106, averaging close to 415c/kg. Rams of all breeds sold from $66-$100.
Ballarat’s trade lambs lift $5-$10
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 35,946 lambs, 3168 more than last week, and 5049 sheep, 226 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was again good to very good, with most lambs showing excellent finish and plenty of weight. The usual buyers plus some extra competition competed strongly in a dearer market.
The lighter lambs sold $3-$6 better, trade weight lambs were $5-$10 dearer and heavy lambs sold up to $10 better. The best extra heavy lambs sold to $180 and eight pens made more than $170. The heavier trade weights sold from $127-$141, averaging around 535c/kg. Restockers were active and paid mostly from $96-$129, and from $98-$118 for shorn young lambs.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $96-$103.50. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $100-$118.50 and averaged around 550c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $114-$129 and heavier weights made $127-$141, or 520-565c/kg to average around 535c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $139-$173, with the extra heavy lambs selling from $174-$180. The best of the old lambs sold to $130 and heavy hoggets made to $112.
The sheep included all weights and grades, with good runs of Merinos and crossbreds. Medium and heavy sheep sold to very strong demand to be up to $10-plus dearer. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $58-$90. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $78-$115, or 350-460c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 425c/kg.
Heavy Merino ewes sold from $101-$122, heavy Merino wethers made $110-$116 and the medium weights sold from $87-$108, or 405-425c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep sold from $82-$136 and rams made to $112. Restockers paid from $108-$115 for crossbred ewes and $105-$123.50 for Merino ewes.
Dublin’s heavy lambs ease $5-$10
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8700 lambs, 1011 more than last week, and 4300 sheep, 169 fewer.
The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers were joined by fewer restockers for the lamb offering of very mixed quality and weights.
Heavy lamb prices eased $5-$10, with the remainder of the offering generally firm for quality, type and condition. Light new season lambs sold from $50-$89, medium weights made $80-$119 and heavier lambs sold for $125-$150.
Medium weight old lambs made $73-$100 and heavier types sold from $90-$136. There was a good selection of Merino hoggets. Lighter hoggets made $76-$115 and heavier lines from $90-$130.
Sheep quality improved. Light ewes sold to the trade for $54-$83, medium weights made $70-$102 and heavy ewes sold from $91-$126. Medium weight wethers sold from $79-$119 and heavy weights made $85-$128. Rams generally sold from $56-$108. A small selection of shorn Merino ewe hoggets sold for $115-$120 to restockers.
Naracoorte lamb prices lift $4-$7
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 11,833 lambs, 8286 fewer than last week, and 2573 sheep, 891 more.
The NLRS said extra trade buyers joined the usual trade and processor buyers, but there were fewer active restocker orders. There were some excellent quality lambs, but less weight and condition overall. The market reversed last week’s easier trend to sell to better rates.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade made $95-$112, up by $4 in places, and restockers paid $70-$117. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lamb prices also rose by about $4 to $108-$119. Trade weight 3 score lamb price rose $5-$7 to $116-$144, averaging 530c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $125-$148 with a similar lift in price. Extra heavy lambs made $144-$165. Hoggets sold from $60-$92.
Light weight ewes made $69-$80 and medium weights sold from $82-$94, up $5, and averaging 360c/kg. Heavy ewes sold from $102-$120. Wethers made to $110. Rams sold from $75-$106.
Muchea’s store lambs lift $3
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 9 fewer than last week, and 4159 sheep, 1089 less.
The NLRS said hot, dry conditions and harvest priorities led to numbers dropping further this week. Moderate numbers of trade and light weight lambs were yarded. Hogget supply was also solid. Lamb quality was mixed, with some good lambs, but dryness was evident in skins, with more grass seed-affected drafts. All the usual buyers attended, but some with adequate direct supplies did not operate on lambs.
Restockers were active on suitable store lamb drafts. Prices for light weight and store lambs were very strong, with the store drafts selling for $45-$85 to restockers. Air freight processors and feeders paid another $75-$95, up $3. Trade weight lambs sold firm, with most sales from $90-$108 and averaging close to 470c/kg. Well-presented new season and shorn heavy lambs sold to $118. Hogget supply improved, with butchers paying to $118 for better quality drafts and many making more than $85.
Sheep quality was mixed, with some good ewes. Ewe mutton dominated the yarding. Restockers were active on suitable ewe, wether and store lamb drafts.
Ewe prices were supported by strong restocker interest and the light weight drafts made from $48-$65. Young Merino ewes sold to restockers, including hoggets, for up to $95, and mature ewe drafts made $65-$121. The dearer Merino ewe drafts had close to a full fleece worth around $23.
The 2 score processor mutton made $55-$77, to be firm to $1 easier. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes made $67-$103 to average slightly dearer at close to 306c/kg. Wether demand remained similar, with the heavier weight drafts going to export or feeder orders for $90-$105. Lighter and store wethers also held firm, with most sales to feeders and restockers making $70-$95 and drafts with longer wool selling to $105. Ram lambs sold to $111, with most at $75-$99. Young ram drafts sold to export and feeders made $55-$65 and the older drafts sold to processors for $40-$55.
Tasmanian trade lambs cheaper
In the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 475 lambs, 585 fewer than last week, and 675 sheep, 325 less.
The NLRS said there was less restocker demand, which meant trade prices were cheaper but most met a similar market. Restockers bought light and light trade lambs for $90-$103 and $105-$113 for trade weights.
The trade paid $115-$120 for trade lambs and $119-$135 for heavy pens. Most old lambs made $100-$114.
There was a much smaller yarding of mutton and all met a cheaper market with more heavy crossbred ewes included. Medium weight ewes made $57-$97 and heavy $72-$81.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.