Prices for quality trade and heavy lambs, and light slaughter lines, were firm to dearer at major selling centres early this week, driven by mainly by domestic buyers seeking quality from reduced yardings.
Rates drifted lower at smaller centres which are struggling to yard quality and sufficient numbers for trade or restocker orders. But agents said quality slaughter lambs continued to sell well, especially the lighter 16-19 kg cwt aided by restockers and heavier 22kg-plus lines going to supermarkets.
Sheep rates generally fell across the country, with fewer export mutton buyers operating.
Elders livestock manager at Bendigo Nigel Starick said most lamb processors have locked away much of their supplies direct to works, with no forward contracts in force and buyers generally topping up at spot prices.
“Domestic buyers have lifted their weights marginally, because the quality is not there in the 20-22kg cwt lambs.
“They’ve had to lift their weights to get the quality they need.”
Mr Starick said offerings of export weight lambs have come back in saleyards and processors have not had to cut their requirements, because the numbers are not there. But several plants have shut down for maintenance, he said.
“They are still getting quality with the 16-19kg cwt lambs, but it is not in the 20-22kg lambs, so the supermarkets are buying more of the 24-25kg lambs to keep the quality up.”
Lamb indicators in positive territory
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted all national and Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb lifted after Tuesday’s saleyard sales concluded. The ESDIs for lamb are: restocker 561c/kg, up one cent; Merinos 521c/kg, up 6c; light 545c/kg, up 7c; trade 575c/kg, up 1c, and; heavy 583c/kg, up 5c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted two cents to 578c/kg and the heavy indice is up five cents to 585c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton is down nine cents to 357c/kg and the national indice closed on 356c.kg, down eight cents.
Over-the-hook lamb rates raised
In NSW, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb prices were higher this week, in line with saleyard trends last week. Mutton rates remained unchanged.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 510-580c/kg, no change; 20-22kg, 530-580c/kg, up 9 cents; 22-24kg, 520-580c/kg, up 20c; 24-26kg, 520-580c/kg, up 18c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450-530c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 260-330c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 290-370c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 320-370c/kg, nc.
In Victoria, the NLRS said most contributors lifted their over-the-hook lamb rates 10¢/kg cwt this week, after last week’s stronger trade and heavy weight lamb saleyard trends. Mutton rates lifted marginally higher.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 560-570c/kg, up 5c; 18-22kg, 560-580c/kg, up 8c; 22-24kg, 560-580c/kg, up 7c; 24-26kg, 540-560c/kg, up 5cv; 26kg+, 540c/kg, up 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 300-370c/kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 350-380c/kg, up 13c; 24kg+, 320-330c/kg, up 7c.
In SA, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight over-the-hook lamb rates edged higher this week, while light weight and Merino lamb rates remained unchanged. Mutton rates were 8c/kg cwt higher on average across all categories.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 540-570c/kg, up 3c; 24-26kg, 530-540c/kg, up 3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 520c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 260-320c/kg, up 8c; 18-24kg, 320-380c/kg, up 8c.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted the OTH lamb and mutton rates as unchanged. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 470-490c/kg; 16-18kg, 480-520c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-540c/kg; 22-26kg, 520-540c/kg; 26kg+, 520-530c/kg. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 0-14kg, 280-320c/kg; 14-18kg, 300-340c/kg; 18-24kg, 320-340c/kg.
Dubbo trade lambs firm to $3 dearer
In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 14,340 lambs, 2790 more than last week, and 6240 sheep, 2570 more.
The NLRS said the mixed yarding of lambs had a good number of heavy weights along with a good percentage of lightweights. Ideal trade lambs were in limited supply.
Lightweight lambs to the processors sold firm, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 score lambs making from $71-$105. The restocker lambs sold from $62-$114. Trade lambs were firm to $3 dearer, with the 18-22kg 3 scores selling from $102-$135 to average 572c/kg cwt. Heavier weight lambs were $2-$5 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $130-$199, ranging from 570-635c/kg. The limited supply of Merino lambs sold $5 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $92-$113 and the heavier weights making to $137. Hoggets sold to $116.
It was a mainly plain quality yarding of mutton. Lightweight sheep were $5 dearer, while the better heavier weights were around firm. The 2 score ewes sold from $35-$78, while the better medium and heavy weights sold from $73-$125 for Merinos and to $124 for crossbreds. Medium and heavy weight wethers sold from $83-$126.
Tamworth lambs $3-$8 cheaper
On Monday at Tamworth, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 1250 more than last week, and 900 sheep, 130 fewer.
The NLRS said the lamb offering featured some outstanding heavyweights. There was less competition for trade lambs this week, with one of last week’s orders not participating. Market trends were generally cheaper with trade weights down by $3-$8. The reduced competition and consumer resistance were cited as factors.
There were very few good quality lambs available to restockers. Weights were generally higher in the heavy lamb categories with a number of lines having had access to a grain supplement. While the top price was equal to that of last sale there was more weight in the lambs this week. The market trend was firm to slightly cheaper. Competition increased for the very low sheep numbers, resulting in a dearer trend.
Goulburn trade and heavy lambs ease $2-$3
On Monday at Goulburn, the agents yarded 1600 lambs, 200 fewer than last week, and 1500 sheep, 100 less.
The NLRS said it was a mixed lamb offering. There were still a few longer wool young lambs in a yarding of mostly light and trade weight old lambs, along with some well-finished heavy and extra heavy weights. Suitable store lambs were limited in supply. Most of the usual orders operated in a mixed market.
Light lambs up to 18kg cwt lifted around $5-$10 and more in places, while trade and heavy weights eased $2-$3. Light weights 12-18kg cwt, including a fair percentage of Dorpers, made $66-$94. Trade weights ranged from $88-$114, while heavy and extra heavy weights made $102-$142. Most of the slaughter lambs ranged from 450-500c/kg cwt.
The mutton selection was mixed, but included some well-finished Merino ewes and wethers, along with the usual plainer light weights. Prices eased by $2-$4 on average and a little more for over-conditioned heavy weights. Light 2 score ewes made $42-$74 and the medium and heavy weights mostly sold from $56-$100 to range from 270-320c/kg cwt. Wethers ranged from $70-$110, to average around 360c/kg.
Forbes heavy lambs firm to $3 dearer
On Tuesday at the Forbes saleyards, the agents yarded 23,200 lambs, 4296 more than last week, and 4400 sheep, 650 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved, with a good offering of well-finished heavy and extra heavy weights. Most of the usual buyers competed in a firm to dearer market.
Light lambs sold from $98-$106. Trade weight lambs were firm to $3 better, with the odd pen more. Prices ranged from $108-$149. Merino lambs sold from $113-$148. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were also firm to $3 dearer for a better offering of lambs. Heavy lambs sold from $143-$159 and extra heavy weights made $152-$203. Carcase prices ranged from 569-622c/kg cwt.
Mutton quality remains very mixed. Merinos made up most of the yarding and prices lifted. Merino ewes sold from $78-$132. Crossbreds ranged from $76-$127 and Dorper ewes averaged $92. Merino wethers sold from $80-$125.
Inverell prices back on quality from previous extreme rates
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2759 lambs, 1384 more than last week, and 2965 sheep, 1557 more.
The NLRS said there was a good supply of trade and heavy lambs, along with several pens of light weights. Quality was fairly good with mainly well-finished lines with some plainer lambs. The market struggled to equal last sales prices, with most lambs selling to a cheaper trend.
Light weight lambs to restockers slipped $33, averaging $70.70. Trade weight Dorper lambs made to $97.50, back $15 and averaged 513c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs to slaughter eased $13, selling from $112-$148, to average 529c/kg.
The mutton yarding had more ewes and wethers, with several pens of heavy and medium weights. The market was back compared to the sale two weeks ago. Restockers were active in the market, competing on the lighter sheep. The 3 score Merino ewes averaged $64.80, slipping $17. Medium weight ewes to restockers sold from $91-$121, averaging $113.90. Merino wethers slipped $20 to $68.
Bendigo’s heavy lambs $3-$5 dearer
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 11,219 lambs, 128 fewer than last week, and 4205 sheep, 932 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved on a week-ago, with more better-finished lambs. The usual buyers operated in a market that favoured lambs suiting domestic and light kill orders. There was little price change for extra heavy export lambs.
Prices reached $201 for an exceptional line of extra heavy lambs estimated to weigh 40kg cwt. Demand from processors and restockers for light weight lambs was keen and most sales were $5-$8 dearer, at $84-$114. Very small and plain lambs sold from $40-$80, although on a carcase basis some of these were among the dearest in the market.
The general run of medium trade lambs sold from $112-$126. The trend of the major domestic buyers competing on heavier lambs to access better quality continued and 24-26kg cwt lambs averaged $3-$5 dearer, with most sales from $133-$158. On a carcase basis, lambs which suited these top domestic orders ranged from 570-590c/kg, with odd sales higher. Demand for extra heavy export lambs was steady at $158-$170 for most, with just a few stand-out pens out to the market top of $201.
The sheep sale was mostly firm to $5 dearer, despite not all the regular buyers operating for the second consecutive week. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $90-$126, while heavy Merino wethers in a big skin topped at $118. Restockers paid from $81-$97 for crossbred ewes which had been joined for a winter lambing.
Ballarat lambs $2-$5 dearer
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 23,963 lambs, 5027 fewer than last week, and 6233 sheep, 2616 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was again average to good, with the usual buyers operating in wet conditions.
Lambs generally sold to a dearer trend to be from $2-$5 up on last week. The most improvement was made on the middle run of the export lambs, with domestic orders pushing the better quality close to 600c/kg cwt, resulting in these lambs improving close to $10 in places. Feeders and restockers were again very active, paying mostly from $91-$119. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $82-$100. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $96-$127. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $120-$140 and the heavier drafts made $124-$150, ranging from 540-620c/kg, to average around 580-590c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $145-$180, with the extra heavy export lambs making $174-$197.
The sheep offering was more mixed this week and not all the usual buyers operated fully. Heavy Merino wethers in near full wool sold to $135. Heavier crossbred sheep were a few dollars easier, with the market fluctuating on the light and medium sheep and most selling from firm to a few dollars dearer. Merino wethers also improved to be a few dollars up on last week. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $46-$88. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $62-$110, ranging from 300-400c/kg cwt to average around 360c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $75-$121, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $110-$135 and the medium weights making $72-$115. Rams sold from $20-$84.
Heavy lambs lift $8 at Dublin
In Dublin at the SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 11,044 lambs, 780 fewer than last week, and 1960 sheep, 183 more.
The NLRS said the mixed quality crossbred and Merino lambs sold to fluctuating trade and processor competition. Light and trade weight lambs were in demand and some feeder input ensured these classes lifted.
Light weight 3 score crossbred lambs sold to feeders for up to $109. Light weight 3 scores to trade buyers remained unchanged, selling from $98-$111 and averaging 515c/kg cwt The light trade weight 4 scores lifted $10 to $118-$132, averaging 545c/kg, and the heavy trade weight 4 scores made $110-$141 to average 537c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $8, selling from $136-$180 to average 552c/kg and extreme heavy weights made 168-$178. Light weight Merino lambs to restockers and feeders sold from $34-$70, trade weight Merinos to processors sold from $90-$113 and made 458- 474c/kg and heavy weights lifted $2, selling from $113-$147 to average 457c/kg.
The mixed sheep yarding sold to strong local and interstate processor competition. The 2 score Merino ewes sold from $85-$98 to average 322c/kg cwt and heavy weight 3 score ewes lifted $7, to $90-$126, averaging 363c/kg. Heavy weight wethers were more plentiful, selling from $95-$130 and averaging 359c/kg cwt. Heavy weight rams sold from $111-$134.
Naracoorte’s trade lambs up to $10 dearer
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2565 lambs, 290 more than last week, and 1169 sheep, 144 fewer.
The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers were active, along with some restocker orders. Prices tended to improve across the market.
Light weight lambs to the trade ranged from $86-$101, $6 dearer, and light weight trade 2 and 3 scores made $102-$112. Merino lambs ranged in price from $73-$106, up $3, while restockers paid $66-$107, up to $5 more than last week. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $110-$140, at an average of 565c/kg cwt, up to $10 dearer. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $138-$158, to be $8-$10 dearer. A pen of extra heavy lambs sold for $175 or 550c/kg cwt.
Light weight ewes mainly ranged from $66-$78, while medium weight ewes eased $2 to $78-$102, or an average of 370c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score ewes remained firm on last week, ranging from $98-$122. Wethers sold to $132 and rams mainly made $72-$85.
Muchea prices mostly firm
In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8900 lambs, 700 fewer than last week, and 4582 sheep, 2859 less.
The NLRS said with dry conditions continuing, numbers remained solid. Lamb supplies were strong and dominated the yarding. Quality improved on last week, with solid supplies of prime lambs and good numbers of secondary lambs available. All buyers were present and prices remained firm across most categories.
Light store lambs sold from $30-$65, equal to last week. Light lambs suitable for air freight processors, feeders and live export also sold firm, from $60-$104. Trade lamb remained close to firm at 490-540c/kg cwt, with prime drafts making $105-$126. Heavy lamb sold from $108-$136 and remained equal.
There were some excellent heavy weight ewe drafts, along with plainer lines. Wether and ram supplies were plainer and limited in number. There was less competition for heavier ewes and heavy weight hoggets. Ewe mutton continued at very similar prices week-on-week.
Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes made $75-$104.50, with 2 score mutton to processors making from $55-$80 and firm 325c/kg cwt. Light mutton sold from $48-$60 and included drafts to restockers. Better restocker ewes made $60-$89 and included wool values to $8. Wether prices were back slightly on export weights, but quality was reduced. Export wethers made $75-$101.50, with store drafts to feeders and restockers back $5 and priced mostly from $50-$95. The best ram lambs sold for $80-$115 and young drafts to export and feeders made $50-$97. Old rams made $30-$75 to processors.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, Elders.