Trade and heavy lamb prices firmed in Australian saleyards mid-week, especially in larger centres where more numbers in the desired weight ranges allowed buyers to fill trucks.
Heavy lambs sold for more than $200 in Forbes and Ballarat, and up to $206 at the Victorian saleyard, with carcase weight rates averaging 570-630c/kg at these and other centres.
Mutton prices lost some ground, with fewer processors operating during the maintenance shut-down period.
Heavy lamb supplies getting shorter
Crawford Dowling Paul Constable said the quality of the lambs in Ballarat has been exceptional, with the market similar to previous weeks.
“Your good heavy lambs still sold well, the good trade lambs are still very well sought after and the light lambs at $90-$100, it’s just phenomenal for what they are.”
Mr Constable said any lack of quality lambs “in numbers” in other markets was helping the Ballarat rates, but no-one really knew what numbers of quality trade and heavy lambs were yet to come in.
“We were expecting even now to be standing around with not a lot to do.”
Landmark auctioneer at the SA Livestock Exchange Bill Warton said the centre’s top price of $197 for heavy lambs was the best this season.
“There was a shortage of lambs here yesterday, about 4000 less than what we have been getting.
“It does tell us that heavy lambs are going to run out; I think the supply of heavy lambs is getting shorter all the time now.”
Most NLRS indicators improve
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the Eastern States Daily Indicators for all lamb categories except restocker lambs as improved, after Tuesday’s saleyard sales.
The lamb ESDIs are: restocker 554c/kg, down 2 cents; Merinos 526c/kg, up 18c; light 545c/kg, up 3c; trade 583c/kg, up 3c; heavy 586c/kg, up 2c. The national trade lamb indicator closed on Tuesday at 585c/kg, up 2 cents, and the heavy lamb indice is on 588c/kg, up 3 cents.
The ESDI for mutton is down 8 cents to 376c/kg and the national indice closed on 375c/kg, down 9 cents.
Over-the-hook lamb rates firm to slightly higher
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb and mutton rates held mainly firm as supply becomes tighter and some facilities are taking annual maintenance breaks. No quote was given due to a regular contributor not quoting at this time.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-30kg, 510-580c/kg; 20-24kg, 550-580c/kg; 24-26kg, 540-560c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 450-530c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 320-340c/kg, 18-24kg, 350-360c/kg; 24kg+, 340-370c/kg.
In Victoria, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates remained unchanged across all categories this week, while mutton rates lifted an average of 3c/kg cwt.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 580c/kg; 24-26kg, 540-580c/kg; 26kg+, 540c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 310-370c/kg, up 3 cents; 18-24kg, 350-380c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 330-350c/kg, up 3c.
In SA, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates lifted slightly this week, with trade weight lambs averaging 565c/kg cwt. No trend was reported due to a contributor not quoting this week. Mutton rates were back an average of 8c/kg cwt across all categories.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 550c/kg; 18-24kg, 550-580c/kg; 24-26kg, 540-550c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 530c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-320c/kg, down 8c; 18-24kg+, 330-370c/kg, down 8c.
In Tasmania, the NLRS reported no change to contributed lamb and sheep over-the-hook rates. Tasmania’s 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 sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 280-320c/kg; 14-18kg, 300-340c/kg; 18-24kg, 320-340c/kg.
Western Australia’s updated OTH rates were not available on the MLA website when this article was published.
Dubbo heavy trade and export lambs dearer
In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,260 lambs, 7300 fewer than last year and 5560 sheep, 4190 less.
The NLRS said the mixed yarding had good numbers of heavy weight lambs and lightweights, but only a limited number of ideal trade weights. All the regular buyers operated.
Lightweight lambs were $5 dearer, with 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $40-$103. The restocker lambs sold to $115. Lightweight trade lambs were cheaper and the heavier weights were $5 dearer, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $95-$139 to average 578c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $4-$6 dearer with the over 22kg 4 scores making $128-$185. Merino lambs were also a little dearer with the over 18kg Merinos selling from $87-$136.
The mutton yarding was of mixed quality and most grades sold $4-$6 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $46-$80 and the better 3 and 4 scores made $103-$130.
Tamworth lambs up $3-$7
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2470 lambs, 1980 fewer than last week, and 1100 sheep, 60 fewer.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was generally good, with good numbers of well-finished trade and export weights. There were no extra heavyweights penned and a limited number of good quality store lambs. The regular buyers attended.
Good quality trade weight lambs recovered some of last week’s losses with the reduced supply contributing to a dearer market trend of $3-$7. The few good quality store lambs sold to restockers at similar prices to the previous sale. Export weight lambs also sold to a dearer trend, with prices improving by $7-$8 when taking weight variations into account.
The quality of the sheep was very mixed and cheaper for a plainer quality penning of wethers.
Forbes trade lambs up $5
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 24,050 lambs, 1650 fewer than last week, and 5800 sheep, 750 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair with good numbers of well-finished lambs offered along with the plainer types. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were well-supplied. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market.
Light lambs lifted $7, selling from $100-$109. Trade weights were $5 dearer, ranging from $108-$146. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs sold $6-8 dearer with odd sales more. Heavy lambs sold from $140-$164, with extra heavies ranging from $156-$203. Carcase prices averaged from 570-630c/kg cwt. Merino lambs sold from $110-$142.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality continued to be very mixed. Merino ewes sold from $80-$126. Crossbred ewes made $76-$122. Dorper ewes sold from $75-$106. Merino wethers ranged from $83-$119.
Bendigo slaughter lambs up $2-$4
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 13,133 lambs, 2030 fewer than last week, and 3633 sheep, 543 less.
The NLRS said quality remained mixed, with only limited supplies of well-finished trade and export lambs on offer. The regular buyers operated and the lamb market opened dearer before losing some momentum later in the sale.
Overall, the better quality slaughter lambs averaged around $2-$4 dearer than a week ago in a fluctuating sale. The market reached a top of $190 for extra-heavy export lambs.
There wasn’t as many lightweight lambs yarded compared to recent weeks and price results varied according to quality and type. Most light lambs to slaughter sold from $84-$116. There was limited restocking activity of up to $106.50 for store lambs displaying reasonable frame size, while odd pens of very small and plain lambs sold from $31-$56. The lead pens of trade weight lambs sold from $130-$155. The better-presented lambs made more than 600c/kg cwt, but the average over the general run was 570-580c/kg. There were some strong sales of heavy lambs early in the market before competition eased later in the auction. Most export lambs weighing over 28kg cwt sold from $162-$175, with only a handful of sales of extra-heavy types above $180 to a market top of $190. Export lambs averaged an estimated 570c/kg.
The smaller yarding of mutton comprised a mix of most weights and grades. The mutton sale was cheaper, with not all the regular export orders operating. The best lines of Merino sheep still made over 370c/kg cwt. Prices reached a top of $132.20 for a small pen of extra heavy crossbred wethers. Heavy-first cross ewes sold from $98-$122, while woolly Merino ewes reached $124.60.
Ballarat’s heavy lambs dearer, up to $206
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,460 lambs, 529 more than last week, and 5626 sheep, 911 more.
The NLRS said quality most of the trade weight and heavy lambs were of very good quality. The regular buyers operated keenly, with lambs generally selling around last week’s levels. The better presented trade weight and heavy lambs a few dollars dearer in places.
Several pens of excellent quality, extra heavy export lambs sold for $200, reaching a market top of $206. Restockers and feeders were active, paying mostly from $92-$120. The lighter drafts made from $60-$73 and some well-grown first cross ewe lambs sold to $171.
Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $74-$100. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $92-$126. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $115-$140, with the heavier drafts made $124-$155, or from 530-630c/kg cwt to average around 590c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $147-$179, and averaged 575-580c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $180-$206. Heavier Merino lambs sold from $90-$110.
There was a drop in sheep quality, with more light sheep yarded. Sheep generally sold around last week’s levels, with Merino wethers, heavy crossbred sheep and very light 1 scores easing a few dollars. Restockers paid to $120 for Merino wethers.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $56-$75, with very light 1 scores selling from $22-$54. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $72-$102, or 320-400c/kg cwt, with the Merino’s averaging around 380c/kg and the crossbreds about 350c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $88-$125. Heavy Merino wethers made $115-$125 and the medium weights $73-$82, to average around 380c/kg.
Dublin’s heavy lambs lift $8-$10
At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6683 lambs, 3372 fewer than last week, and 978 sheep, 874 less.
The very mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger competition provided by the usual local and interstate, trade and processor buyers. Feeder buyers were prominent on heavier shorn crossbreds and restockers were only occasional bidders on light weight Merino lambs.
Feeder buyers bought 16-20kg lambs and paid $102-$122. Light weight 3 score lambs to trade buyers lifted marginally, to from $100-$120, averaging 536c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $6, to $110-$136, averaging 563c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores attracted strong trade bidding, lifting $11 to sell from $130-$160 to average 584c/kg.
Heavy weight lambs lifted $8-$10, selling from $142-$176 or 549-573c/kg and extreme heavy weights sold from $174-$197. Merino lambs sold to restockers from $56-$90, with light weights going to processors from $85-$104 and trade weight 3 scores making $110-$115, averaging 439c/kg. Heavy weight 3 score Merinos lifted by up to $14, selling from $130-$148 to average 487c/kg. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $112-$132 and crossbreds made $115-$120.
The mixed quality sheep offering sold to solid processor bidding. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $4 to $55-$80, averaging 300c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 scores eased $6, to $80-$118 to average 332c/kg. Wethers sold to $142.
Naracoorte’s best trade lambs lift $5-$8
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1835 lambs, 332 fewer than last week, and 1485 sheep, 1688 less.
The NLRS said a smaller field of trade and processor buyers was active, while restockers had limited impact. Prices generally improved across the market.
Lightweight lambs to the trade mainly ranged from $65-$103. The lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $98-$108 improving by up to $5. The few lambs purchased by restockers ranged from $79-$104. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $110-$138 to improve $5-$8 at an average of 565c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $122-$155, with one pen making $174.
Lightweight ewes ranged from $56-$91. Medium weights made $82-$108 as spirited bidding pushed these ewes up by $10-$12 to average 420c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes sold to $125. Wethers sold to $118 and rams made from $60-$80.
Muchea lambs lift $5-$10
In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9450 lambs, 2818 more than last week, and 4584 sheep, 1584 more.
The NLRS said the lamb yarding included solid supplies of heavy and trade weight drafts, with good numbers of prime drafts. Light weight and store lamb supplies were solid.
Lamb quality remained mixed, but was an improvement on last week, with some large drafts of good framed store lambs available. All buyers were present, but some did not operate due to the lift in prices across most categories. Most lambs sold $5-$10 dearer. Ewe and wether prices also improved by close to $4.
Light store lambs, including solid numbers of Merino drafts, made from $20-$68 and were much dearer. Light lambs to processors, live exporters and feeders also lifted by $4-$8 to sell from $65-$110. Trade lambs sold from $97-$140 to average close to 580c/kg cwt for the better drafts, with a number of sales making more than 600c/kg. Heavy lamb also lifted by close to $6, to reach a top of $146.50.
The sheep yarding included reasonable supplies of heavy weight ewes. Wether and ram supplies improved. Ewe prices improved by $1-$4, with the light drafts making from $30-$70. The 2 score processor mutton sold from $68-$88 for a 345c/kg cwt average. Better conditioned ewes, including heavy weight drafts, made $87-$106.
Wether sales were driven by live export and feeders, with most export weight drafts making $90-$115, up $4/head. Feeders also paid more for most store and light drafts; from $65-$100. Ram quality was back on last week. Ram lambs sold to $100 and young drafts to live export and feeders made $30-$90. Old rams made $10-$75 to processors.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.