TRADE and heavy lamb prices rebounded in New South Wales this week as rain disrupted supplies to saleyards at Dubbo, Forbes and Tamworth.
Prices for trade weight 18-22 kg new season lambs with $8-$10 skins lifted $4 at Dubbo to $133-$146, or 605-630c/kg cwt. Lighter 12-18kg lambs made $80-$106, or 550-594c/kg.
At Forbes, the 18-22kg new season lambs with$9-$10 skins made $128-$152, or 595-660c/kg. Lighter 12-18kg lambs with $8 skins sold at extreme rates, $120-$124, or 700-713c/kg. Heavy 22-26kg suckers at Forbes ($9-$10 skins) sold from $154-$166, or 625-654c/kg.
Weather disrupts NSW lamb and sheep yardings
Elders NSW livestock sales manager Paul Jameson said wet weather over the weekend reduced Dubbo’s yarding on Monday from the much higher draw on Friday, and Forbes had similar issues though to a lesser extent.
“There was just a bit more demand, probably on the back of some pretty awful weather for a few days.
“It will be very interesting to see what numbers come forward at Dubbo next week and you may see some of those gains retreat with a more normal yarding.”
Mr Jameson said the season had been good for producers with early new season lambs to get them off at good weights.
“You are also seeing a percentage of producers grab what is deemed to be a pretty reasonable rate for a light sucker, you could even call them a store, if you like.
“A lamb that is in the early 30kg lwt, probably not killable, but around that 30-34kg lwt, and achieving that $106-$108 at 12 weeks of age,” he said.
“Some are saying we will take a bit of that and run a few through to spring and see how we go.”
Mr Jameson said good export demand for light suckers is also underpinned by some restocker demand from producers diversifying from putting cattle onto crops or pastures to lambs and sheep.
“There are a few people starting to diversify their thinking in terms of trading opportunities and those light lambs are one option for them.”
Early seasonal lamb turn-off into Bendigo saleyards
Landmark Bendigo auctioneer Richard Leitch said early weaning of new season lambs into saleyards was “rife” in the area due to the season.
“Very immature lambs are being weaned because they are dragging the guts out of the ewes and the ewes haven’t got a lot of milk left anyway – so a lot of lambs being weaned.”
“We just haven’t had the rain and despite the rain on the weekend, it is just too cold; we won’t get growth until the end of August.”
Mr Leitch said he was predicting a very short, sharp sucker season for the area.
“Then we are going to be selling a lot of store lambs.”
The terrific mutton and lamb market was “the saving grace” of the situation, he said.
Mr Leitch said Bendigo would have yarded about 10 pens of genuine suckers on Monday, but he believes that is going to build up over the next two weeks, with a 17-18kg cwt lambs making around $130.
“Anything that has got bloom on it, we are just drafting them off and in they will go.
“Our season has been shocking, and if we don’t continue getting rain, we won’t even get a spring, that’s how bad we are looking.”
Elders Bendigo livestock manager Nigel Starick agreed the area’s sucker season would be short, and areas west of Bendigo and into the Wimmera were also suffering due to lack of rain.
“A lot of blokes are looking at weaning early, then either selling the best of them or shearing.
“Those who have finished lambs in feedlot will do that – a lot are still feeding ewes and lambs anyway.”
NLRS lamb indicators lift
After the close of Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted improvements in all the Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb, especially restocker and Merino lambs.
The ESDI’s for lambs are: restocker 519c/kg, up 35 cents; Merino, 549c/kg, up 19c; light 552c/kg, up 9c; trade 580c/kg, up 5c; heavy 580c/kg, up 9c. The national trade lamb indicator is up 6 cents to 580c/kg and the heavy lamb indice closed up 6 cents to 579c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton is down two cents to 386c/kg and the national indicator lost three cents to close on 385c/kg.
Over-the-hook rates hold firm
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates were unchanged this week. Merino lambs were marginally lower, while mutton rates across all weight ranges were firm. It is expected that supply will tighten this week, due to the cold conditions.
In Victoria, lamb over-the-hook indicators remained unchanged this week, with trade weight lambs averaging 608c/kg cwt. Mutton rates were also the same as last week’s levels, with medium weight sheep averaging 360c/kg cwt.
In SA, the NLRS said contributors left lamb over-the-hook rates unchanged week-on-week, with trade weight lambs averaging 583c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were also firm, with medium weight sheep averaging 345c/kg cwt again this week.
In Tasmania, OTH rates for sheep and lambs were unchanged. The rates for Western Australia were unavailable when this report was published.
Dubbo suckers lift $4
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,012 lambs, 9818 fewer than last week, and 4682 sheep, 1793 less.
The NLRS said the wet wintery conditions reduced the yarding considerably from the expected draw and quality was mixed. Lightweight lambs were well-supplied, and there were good runs of trade and heavy weights. The usual orders competed in a dearer market.
Prices for the limited supply of new season lambs improved $4, to $133-$146. Lightweight older lambs lifted $3, to $74-$114. Trade weights remained close to firm to range from $110-$140, or from 566-576c/kg cwt. The heavy weight lambs gained $3, with the lighter end averaging $140, while the heaviest topped at $166. These categories attained a carcase weight price from 569-577c/kg. The best of the heavy weight Merino lambs made $141.
Most weights and grades of sheep were represented. Prices lifted $3, with the better 2 to 4 scores selling from $52-$127, or 335-420c/kg cwt, depending on age and quality.
Reduced Tamworth yarding sold firm to easier
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 1725 lambs, 1775 fewer than last week, and 775 sheep, 675 less.
The NLRS said only a small portion of the 4600 sheep and lambs drawn for were yarded. The good quality penning of lambs came mainly off crops and consisted of several pens of heavy and trade weights. The market was generally firm to slightly easier for most sales. Prices for the small penning of mutton saw little change, though there was some good heavy mutton offered.
Forbes yards 4150 suckers
On Tuesday at the Forbes saleyards, the agents yarded 21,350 lambs, 13,488 fewer than last week, and 3800 sheep, 4639 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair, with good numbers of well-finished lambs and a few plainer types. Most were heavy and extra heavy lambs, with a handy penning of Merinos. The usual buyers competed in a market that regained all of last week’s drop.
The agents yarded 4150 good quality new season lambs. Trade weight lambs sold from $128-$152. Heavy weights ranged from $154-$166. Older light lambs lifted $4 to sell from $104-$120. Trade weights were $6-$8 better at $115-$151. Heavy and extra heavy weight lamb prices jumped $12-$16. Heavy lambs sold from $147-$165 and extra heavy weights made $154-$192. Carcase prices ranged from 574-620c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $102-$140.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was very mixed. Merino ewes sold from $82-$128. Crossbred ewes made $84-$134. Dorper ewes sold from $89-$132. Merino wethers made $94-$118.
Bendigo’s best trade lambs make $141-$169
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 9364 lambs, 655 fewer than last week, and 7736 sheep, 1890 more.
The NLRS said there was a slight decline in lamb numbers, but a noticeable increase in sheep supplies amid reports the tough season is prompting farmers to wean lambs early and turn-off older ewes to preserve feed and water supplies.
Lamb quality remained very mixed and generally plain, with a lot of small pens from producers clearing tail-end drafts. The regular processing companies were represented, but most buyers didn’t operate at capacity.
Prices fluctuated, with the limited numbers of quality trade and supermarket style lambs unchanged to a few dollars dearer in places. Secondary slaughter lambs mostly showed a slightly softer trend of $1-$4. The market reached a top of $186 for a small pen of extra heavy export lambs.
A few new season lambs were penned, but only in small numbers and insufficient to build an accurate picture of demand or price trends. Plainer lambs dominated the yarding, with secondary trade weights generally selling from $112-$130, or mostly 530-570c/kg cwt, although selective bidding on small and mixed pens created a wide price range. Light slaughter lambs mostly sold from $72-$96. Most agents penned lightweight Merino lambs and most made $60-$103, with odd pens of better finished trade weights to $116. The best competition was for nicely presented 22-26kg cwt lambs in shorter skins that suited the top-end domestic kill orders. These lambs sold from $141-$169, at an estimated 600-630c/kg. Competition remained subdued for the odd pens of heavy export lambs which sold to $186.
The sheep yarding included a good mix of heavy weight crossbreds and to light Merino ewes. Not all the regular export buyers competed. Prices fluctuated, with heavy sheep showing a slight price correction, while some of the plain conditioned light types were a few dollars dearer. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $106-$138, while longer wool Merino ewes sold to $120.60. The general run of mutton sold from $60-$88. The best lines of Merino sheep made an estimated 390-420c/kg cwt, with an average run of sheep estimated at 360c/kg.
Ballarat lambs average 600c/kg
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5344 lambs, 5675 fewer than last week, and 3960 sheep, 500 less.
The NLRS said quality was average in the typical winter yarding. Most of the regular buyers attended but operated selectively in cold conditions and lambs generally sold around last week’s levels.
The few pens of better finished and presented domestic and export lambs sold unchanged and averaged around 600c/kg cwt. Restocking and feeder activity was steady with feeders paying from $88-$127, and restockers paying from $81-$95 for lambs. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $64-$95. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $93-$130, or around 590c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $118-$155, or from 520c/kg for the plainer drafts to 640c/kg for better quality, to average around 590c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $155-$172, with most going to domestic orders.
Sheep quality was better with fewer lighter sheep yarded. Sheep sold mostly around firm with some selected lots a few dollars dearer. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $46-$78, with very light 1 scores making $13-$54. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $70-$109, ranging from 310-410c/kg cwt. Merino sheep averaged around 390c/kg and the crossbreds 350c/kg.
Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $76-$138. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $100-$121 and the lighter weights made $70-$95. Rams of all weights sold from $45-$110.
Dublin sucker lambs sell to 650c/kg
In South Australia at the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin, the agents yarded 7500 lambs, 4790 fewer than last week, and 1500 sheep, 284 less.
The NLRS said the very mixed quality crossbred and Merino lambs sold to erratic bidding from the usual local and interstate trade and processor buyers. Feeders and restockers were conspicuously quiet, but operated on very light weight crossbreds and Merinos.
A reasonable selection of new season, crossbred lambs were yarded, with light weights selling from $90-$105 and light trade weights making $130-$141, or 567-650c/kg cwt. Light weight old crossbred lambs sold to trade buyers for $105-$112, averaging 514c/kg, and light trade weight 3 scores remained unchanged at $104-$120, or around 504c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores were firm at $118-$144 and averaged 545c/kg. Heavy weight 4 score prices retreated $2-$10 to $121-$154, or 522-569c/kg. Extra heavy weights sold from $170-$182.
Restockers bought light weight Merinos for $53-$78 and light weight Merinos were in demand with processors, lifting $4 to $80-$100 and averaging 496c/kg. Trade weights sold from $105-$120 to average 488c/kg and heavy weights sold from $115-$140, or around 486c/kg. One exceptional draft sold for $160. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $107-$130 and crossbreds made $110-$120.
A small yarding of indifferent quality sheep sold to stronger processor demand. Light weight 2 score ewes lifted $9, selling from $55-$85, averaging 314c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 scores lifted $10 to $70-$114 to average 334c/kg. Heavy weight wethers were scarce and prices lifted $9, to $98-$116, to average 362c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $70-$100.
Note: No NLRS report was filed for Naracoorte due to the dispute with MLA over reporting costs, although agents said there were insufficient sheep and lambs to accurately quote price trends. The Naracoorte agents meet this Thursday after the store cattle to decide the future of NLRS reporting at the saleyards.
Muchea prime lamb prices firm
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4658 lambs, 41 more than last week, and 3600 sheep, 1500 more.
The NLRS said numbers lifted as dry conditions continued. Lamb quality was mixed and a large percentage were tail-end drafts with many lighter weights. Prime lamb supplies were moderate. Buyers were cautious this week with some processors undertaking maintenance and direct-to-works deliveries solid. Live export buyers were active on suitable wether and ram drafts but feeders remained cautious.
Prices for prime lambs remained close to firm but all secondary lambs dropped in price by at least $5. Light store lambs, mostly Merino drafts, made $50-$66 to remain firm. Light lamb prices paid by feeders, air freight processors and restockers slipped to $60-$89. Trade lamb prices also fell by close to $7, but rates for the prime drafts were close to firm. Merino and secondary lamb draft prices were significantly easier. There were also solid price drops for heavy lambs, with these making $103-$133.
Heavy weight ewe supply improved and some good wethers were offered. Ewe sales improved as competition returned to more normal levels. Ewe prices firmed with the return of a major processor and light weight drafts made $40-$60. Most 2 score processor mutton sold from $50-$82, with better conditioned and heavier weight drafts making $68-$102, or close to 310c/kg cwt.
Restockers also purchased younger sheep drafts for $60-$101, with most slightly dearer. Wether drafts were dearer, but quality contributed. Export weight drafts made $80-$112.50, to be up to $5 dearer. Lighter weight and conditioned wethers to restockers sold from $70-$99.50 and were up to $5 dearer. Ram sales remained solid with lambs making $65-$95, and young drafts selling to live export and export feeders for $40-$85. Old rams sold to processors for $10-$65.
Tasmanian lambs sell firm
At the Northern Tasmanian saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 870 sheep, 680 fewer than last week, and 600 sheep, 200 more.
The NLRS said there was a smaller yarding of lambs at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, with fewer store lambs. Most prime lambs sold firm, with exporters paying $78-$90 for light lambs. Restockers paid $85-$115 for light and light trade pens. Exporters and wholesalers paid $88-$105 for light trade lambs, $109-$137 for trade pens, $130-$150 for heavy lines and $145-$153 for the few extra heavy pens.
Prices for the small yarding of mutton and light sheep improved up to $10, while heavy ewe rates fell $10-$15. Very light ewes made $27-$42, light weights sold from $68-$72, medium weights $72-$84 and heavy ewes made from $80-$81.
Sources: NLRS, AuctionsPlus.