Domestic Lamb

Processors peg lamb prices on quality, mutton stays buoyant

Terry Sim, May 1, 2015
These 7-9 month-old 13.6kg cwt woolly Merino lambs sold for $79 at Louth, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These 7-9 month-old 13.6kg cwt woolly Merino lambs sold for $79 at Louth, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

Processors kept slaughter lamb prices generally firm to cheaper in major saleyards mid-week as quality slipped in increased yardings in NSW, Victoria and WA.

Trade lambs were least affected, and slightly dearer in Victoria, when domestic processors competed for the limited quality supplies available against restockers and exporters.

Mutton rates dipped in some centres, but quality medium and heavy 2 and 3 score mutton is consistently making 380-430c/kg in several centres, and up to 460c/kg at Horsham.

After Thursday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the major Eastern States Daily Indicators for slaughter lambs as losing ground – light lambs 533c/kg, down three cents; trade lambs 555c/kg, down one cent and heavy lambs 555c/kg, down three cents. The ESDI for restocker lambs was up 15 cents at 546c/kg and the Merino lamb indice was up one cent to 502c/kg. The national trade lamb indicator closed at 557c/kg, down two cents and the heavy lamb indice was at 556c/kg, down three cents.

The ESDI for mutton closed down eight cents at 389c/kg and the national indice was at 388c/kg, down nine cents.

Plainer Carcoar yarding sells cheaper

In NSW at Carcoar’s Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange on Wednesday, the agents yarded 11,500 lambs, 7000 more than last week and 3500 sheep, 1300 more.

The NLRS said the much plainer quality yarding had a large percentage of light weight crossbreds and Merinos, and limited numbers of trade and heavy weights.

Light weight lambs were $7 cheaper, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling to processors from $57-$80. Trade lambs were $8 cheaper, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $86-$125 to average 530c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $9-$12 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $116-$170 to average 536c/kg cwt. Lambs sold to restockers were $5-$8 dearer, with the crossbreds selling from $57-$123.

It was also a plainer quality yarding of mutton. Light and medium weight ewes were $2-$5 cheaper, while the heavier weight sheep were up to $10 easier. The 2 score ewes sold from $40-$76, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $70-$118 for Merinos and to $120 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $77-$125.

Inverell lambs lift $10-plus

At the Inverell saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1375 lambs, 766 fewer than last week, and 1408 sheep, 341 more.

The NLRS said the yarding had a good supply of trade weights and heavy lambs, with a fair number of light lambs. Quality was fairly good with most lambs well finished.

Competition was much stronger with the market $10 dearer and more in places. Restockers were active in the market, helping push light lamb prices up.

The small penning of hoggets attracted keen demand. The yarding of mutton was made up of several pens of heavy ewes and wethers, with several pens in full wool. The market was much dearer with most sheep selling $15 dearer and more in places.

Wagga lamb quality slips

At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 27,000 lambs, 2000 more than last week, and 7500 sheep, 2500 more.

The NLRS said quality slipped, with the greater change across trade lamb categories. A full field of buyers attended and there was more restocker competition.

Trade lambs were in shorter supply and quality was quite mixed, with increased supplies of dry lambs lacking finish. Light trade weight lambs were limited and the better finished lambs averaged $118.60. Medium and heavy trade lambs were in reasonable supply with mixed quality supplies of supplementary-fed young lambs.

Demand weakened in all trade lamb categories, generally easing $4 to average 583c/kg cwt. The better finished medium and heavy lambs made from $130-$148. There were more Merino lambs, and well-finished pens, suitable for the trade, made from $103-$128. Plainer light weight lambs to the processors were keenly sought and prices were unchanged to a few dollars dearer, from $86-$118. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold to weaker competition. The bulk of the heavy and extra heavy lambs made from $148-$194. Heavy lambs averaged 547-568c/kg cwt, while the extra heavy pens above 30kg cwt averaged 544c/kg.

Mutton quality was mixed and mostly medium weights. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were well-supplied and competition waned, resulting in a $6 cheaper trend. Trade sheep made from $68-$102 to average 384c/kg cwt. Heavy sheep sold from $92-$125. Heavy wethers reached a top price of $138.20 to average from 361-401c/kg.

Hamilton’s medium trade lambs $2-$3 dearer

In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 10,941 lambs, 648 fewer than last week, and 8511 sheep, 2148 more.

The NLRS said the usual buyers and one extra heavier sheep processor operated. Quality was again very good, with many pens of medium trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs as well as the light trade and light weight 1 scores. Restockers from Shepparton and some local agents were active, with less competition from South Australia.

Prices for light lambs were unchanged, while medium trade weights were firm to $2-$3 dearer. Heavy lambs were firm overall, although some pens did sell $1-$2 easier in places as the market fluctuated. Light (12-18kgcwt) 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $58-$108, while medium trade (18-22kg) 4 scores returned $104-$128, averaging around 565c/kg cwt. The heavier 22kg plus lambs sold from $126-$146 and were estimated to average 540c/kg cwt. The top price came from one pen of 32kg cwt lambs that sold for $175.

The plainer yarding of sheep sold $5-$9 dearer, with medium 2 and 3 score mutton making $78-$104. The heavy 4 score sheep sold from $102-$124, or from 370-400c/kg cwt. The best Merino wethers sold from $108-$130, or 410-430c/kg.

Horsham trade lambs dearer

At the Horsham saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 9130 lambs, 744 more than last week, and 1480 sheep, 1417 fewer.

The NLRS said fewer heavy lambs were yarded, however there was still a good selection of trade weight and heavy lambs. The usual buyers operated keenly in a slightly dearer market for trade weight lambs. Extra heavy lambs sold a few dollars easier. Restockers paid from $82-$107 for lambs.

Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $85-$98. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $95-$110. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $115-$134 and the heavier weights made $127-$143, or 510-610c/kg cwt to average around 560c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $135-$169 and averaged around 550c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $170-$187. Lighter weight Merino lambs sold from $90-$108, with heavier lots selling from $111-$140.

The sheep offering included all weight and grades, with sheep generally selling a few dollars dearer and longer wool Merino wethers making to $134.50. Restockers paid to $120 for Merino wethers. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $59-$80. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $70-$113.50, or from 360-460c/kg cwt to average around 420c/kg. Heavy sheep sold from $104-$127, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $100-$134.50 to average around 430c/kg cwt. Rams of all weights sold from $58-$95.

Mt Gambier’s trade lambs $4 easier

In SA at Mt Gambier on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1013 lambs, 671 fewer than last week, and 114 sheep, 70 less.

The NLRS said the usual buyers were present, but not all were active. Lightweight lambs to the trade ranged from $56-$86, with lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs making from $102-$106. Restocker lambs sold mainly from $53-$104, with only a small number available. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $108-$130 at an average of 550c/kg cwt. These were $4 easier. The few heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $129-$150.

Hoggets ranged from $70-$120. Lightweight ewes sold to $52 with medium weight ewes ranging from $54-$97 at an average of 325c/kg. Heavy 4 score ewes ranged from $92-$120. Rams ranged from $14-$35.

Katanning ewe prices drop

In WA at Katanning on Wednesday, the agents yarded 13,000 lambs, 3000 more than last week, and 11,696 sheep, 2743 fewer.

The NLRS said was a mainly average quality yarding with large lines of good Merino and crossbred lambs. Competition was solid from a full field of buyers and lamb prices were mainly firm to dearer, Light store lambs were up $3 and sold from $25-$55. Lambs weighing from 16-18kg cwt were firm, making to $105 or 540c/kg cwt. Trade weight lambs sold from $69-$120, down $3-$5. Heavy lambs were firm and made from $93-$130, to average 520c/kg cwt. Hoggets sold from $40 to restockers and feeders up to $125 to the trade.

Ewe prices generally dropped $3-$7. Light weight ewes to slaughter made $46-$56, to be firm. The 2 score processor mutton made from $56-$70, down $3-$5. The better 3 score mutton sold up to $98, but eased $5-$7 as numbers outstripped demand. Wether prices were $10 dearer due to increased live export demand. Better export types sold from $80-$130. Store drafts made from $40-$80. Rams were firm, with ram lambs making to $95 and the heavier lines $20-$70.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.

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