Domestic Lamb

Rain holds back supply as heavy lambs hard to find

Terry Sim, October 17, 2014
These 13.9kg cwt Poll Dorset-1st x lambs at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, sold for $81.50 on AuctionsPlus this week

These 13.9kg cwt Poll Dorset-1st x lambs at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, sold for $81.50 on AuctionsPlus this week

Rain kept some lambs out of saleyards in NSW mid-week, lifting competition on the remainder yarded at other centres.

The smaller yardings boosted competition and buyers paid more for quality trade and heavy lambs where they were yarded. Supplies of fresh lambs are declining, including at Horsham in Victoria, and southern saleyards such as Hamilton are only now yarding their first new season lambs.

Mutton prices in saleyards continued a general slide with most works well-booked, but held firm for quality at some centres, despite lower yardings everywhere except Bendigo, Mt Gambier and Katanning. This allowed sheep restockers grazing failed crops to operate at Bendigo.

Rodwell’s Wimmera manager Wayne Driscoll said Horsham’s new season lamb yardings had peaked, but prices were still holding up despite more dryness and secondary lambs in lines offered, and a lack of heavy lambs.

“Our season has just been cut to ribbons,” he said, with only the few crops still green able to take advantage of any rain.

Wagga Selling Agents Association president Aaron Mackay said the smaller yarding of mostly good new season lambs at Wagga, including some shorn lines, lifted rates. He said the small amount of rain in the area did not keep many lambs in the paddock, and harvest was due to start in the region in the next 7-10 days. Most producers had either opted to sell their lambs by now or had shorn them for later sale.

Lambs on offer in NSW would also have been restricted by this week being the off-week for the fortnightly Cootamundra and Temora sales, which have yarded 6-8000 lambs on Wednesdays.

ES Trade Lamb Indicator lifts 3 cents

After Thursday’s sales, MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator as up three cents to 462c/kg, and the heavy lamb indicator up five cents to 459c/kg.

The national indicators for lambs lifted generally after sales on Wednesday and Thursday, except for Merinos and light lambs. The lamb indicators today are: restocker 476c/kg, up 2 cents; Merino 394c/kg, down 2c; light 431c/kg, no change; trade 460c/kg, up 3c, and; heavy 457c/kg, up 5c. The mutton indicator closed at 290c/kg, down 7 cents.

Rain drops numbers at Carcoar

In NSW on Wednesday at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar, the agents yarded 2830 lambs, 6940 fewer than last week, and 1500 sheep, 1650 less.

The NLRS said following up to 90mm of rain in some districts, numbers were back considerably on the expected draw. It was a mixed yarding with some good pens of heavy and trade weight new season lambs and only limited numbers of old lambs.

The smaller yarding created keener competition, with trade lambs finishing $5 dearer. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $93-$119 to average 487c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $8 cheaper with over 22kg new season lambs selling from $116-$139.

The few trade weight old lambs sold from $73-$100. Merino lambs were $6 dearer with trade weights selling from $80-$94. Restockers paid to $97 and the best hoggets sold for $88.

It was a mixed quality yarding of mutton with some good lines of well-finished sheep along with a larger percentage of plainer types. Ewes finished $2-$5 dearer, while the wethers were $3 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $41-$55, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $64-$90 for crossbreds and $78 for Merinos. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $72-$95.

Trade lambs lift $2-$3 at Goulburn

At Goulburn’s saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 800 sheep, 400 fewer than last week, and 700 sheep, 900 less.

The NLRS said the smaller yarding came after good rain in the supply area in the previous few days with falls of 25-45mm. Quality was mixed, although most of the light processing and trade weight young lambs showed good finish and a few of the lighter weights were attractive to the restockers. Old lambs were mostly of mixed breed quality and in smaller lots.

Trade weight young lambs met improved demand from the usual orders and prices lifted $2-$3. The light weights to restockers made $70-$82, while light processing lots, 16-18kg, made $80-$98. The trade weights ranged from $91-$109, with a few heavy weights reaching $117 for most to average 465c/kg-475c/kg cwt.

Old lambs from light processing to trade weights ranged from $68-$98, while first cross ewe lambs to restock made $135. Hoggets met solid demand and reached $100.

The sheep were of plainer quality and consisted of mostly Merino ewes with an odd small lot of wethers. The market held firm with medium and heavy ewes and wethers ranging from $55-$96 for most of the better covered mutton, to average 290c/kg-320c/kg cwt.

Good quality medium and heavy trade lambs lift $5 at Wagga

At the Wagga saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 29,750 lambs, 250 fewer, and 10,400 sheep, 1600 less.

The NLRS said most of the offering were young lambs. New season lamb quality was very good, however there was less weight in the yarding, with heavy and extra heavy lambs in shorter supply. A full turn-out of domestic buyers plus an extra northern domestic buyer attended.

The market in general sold to dearer trends, with rain in the north having an influence on the number of stock available at other markets.

New season lambs trade lambs were well-supplied and prices were stronger over all categories. Light trade weight lambs were in reasonable supply and steady competition contributed to a slightly dearer trend, with the better finished lambs to slaughter averaging $102.80. Medium and heavy trade lambs were in greater numbers, with increased supplies of shorn young lambs, and prices were generally $5 dearer, with the heavy trade lambs averaging 475c/kg cwt. Trade weight Merino lambs were in limited supply and the better-finished drafts suitable for the trade made from $88-98. Heavy and extra heavy young lambs sold to strong northern competition, with one northern processor the market driver on the better-finished pens. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold from $123-$136, with the extra heavy lambs averaging 433c/kg cwt.

Lambs suitable to turn out were well supplied and sold to steady demand, with only a few buyers purchasing lambs weighing above 18kg cwt. Store orders were in place from Cowra, Bendigo, Goulburn, Griffith, Albury, as well as the local area. The better quality second cross lambs to turn out sold from $80-$108.

Mutton quality was mixed, with all weights and grades represented. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were in reasonable supply and sold to weaker demand, with most southern processors absent from the market.

Trade sheep prices were erratic, with increased numbers selling with nominal skin value. Trade Merino and crossbred ewes made from $54-$82 to average 288c/kg cwt. Heavy sheep were in good numbers and prices were $7-$15 cheaper, with heavy wethers lacking the weight of the previous sale. Heavy wethers made from $80-$92, while heavy ewes sold from $76-$105. Light sheep sold to a small field of buyers and ranged in price from $30-$48 to average 247c/kg cwt.

Horsham lamb rates slip $2-$4 on quality

In Victoria at the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 13,472 lambs, 616 fewer than last week, and 4211 sheep, 3653 less, for the usual buyers plus extra processor competition.

The NLRS said quality over the yarding was average for most weights and grades. Quality well-finished trade and heavy weight lambs were in limited numbers, reflecting the current seasonal conditions. Most lambs on quality generally sold $2-$4 easier than last week. Large numbers of lambs suitable for restockers sold from $70-$94 and from $47-$60 for lighter weights. They went to the north east, Ballarat, Rainbow, Birchip, Naracoorte and local areas.

Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $60-$78. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $74-$93, with sales to $101. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $98-$112, with sales to $123, and they ranged from 410c/kg-480c/kg, to average around 450c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $115-$132 and around 455c/kg cwt.

The reduced sheep offering included several large runs of recently-shorn Merino and crossbred ewes. Most sheep sold to an easier trend to be $2-$5 cheaper, with a run of medium sheep averaging around 240c/kg cwt. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $22-$45. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $43-$62, to average around 240c/kg cwt. Heavy merino and crossbred sheep sold from $47-$66. Medium Merino wethers sold from $51-$58, with young Merino wethers selling from $68-$69.

First new season lambs to $111 at Hamilton

At the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1102 lambs, 596 more than last week, and 2308 sheep, 1283 fewer.

The NLRS said the yarding included a limited selection of plain old lambs and about 500 new season lambs yarded that sold to reasonable competition from the usual buyers for this time of year.

The new season lambs mainly came from the Balmoral district and sold for $72-$96. The light and light weight trade 2 to 3 scores made 450c/kg-495c/kg cwt, to average 475c/kg cwt. One isolated pen of heavier trade 4 score lambs made $111 and were estimated at 21kg cwt with a $7 skin.

Old lambs made $64-$90 for the limited number of trade weight 3 scores, fluctuating between 360c/kg-400c/kg cwt, to remain firm. Hoggets made $67-$82, to average 330c/kg cwt.

Sheep numbers fell back to 2,308 head as a cheaper trend continued by $3-$8 in places. The 1 and 2 score sheep made $20-$42, while medium weight ewes sold for $40-$56. Medium weight 2 and 3 score wethers sold from $46-$65 and the heavier crossbred ewes made $55-$63. The best Merino wethers made $65-$70. Rams sold to limited competition, up to $24.

Bendigo mutton $8-$12 lower

At the Bendigo saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 11054 sheep, 372 more than last week.

The NLRS said demand from meat buyers was much weaker and the result was a cheaper market. Most sales averaged $8-$12 lower when compared to the previous sale, with very light and plain sheep recording bigger price corrections.

Two regular mutton exporters didn’t operate, and the feedback from buyers was that most meatworks have plentiful sheep numbers around them. The one bright spot in the sale was restocker competition for some of the bigger lines of Merino wethers and ewes, which were reportedly going onto failed grain crops. Local agents paid from $70 to the market top of $91.60 for heavy Merino wethers and from $64-$88.60 for ewes to turn-out.

Heavy first-cross ewes sold from $55-$77 at an average of about 220c/kg cwt, with the trend of meat buyers discounting over-conditioned sheep continuing. The bulk of the yarding comprised of recently shorn Merino ewes, and the heavier drafts, over 24kg cwt and in fresh condition, sold from $64-$75, to average around 260c/kg cwt. The main run of medium weight Merino ewes, 18-24kg, sold from $46-$65, with odd sales out to 270c/kg cwt for a similar average of around 260c/kg c/wt. Lightweight ewes in plain condition sold at discounted rates of $15-$38.

The main lines of Merino wethers benefited from restocker competition, while those which sold for slaughter were cheaper than last week. There was little bidding on rams that sold from $8-$20.

Heavy lambs to $140 at Mt Gambier

In South Australia at the Mt Gambier saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 2384 lambs and 425 sheep,

The NLRS said most of the lambs were new season crossbreds in the trade and heavyweight categories. They sold to strong bidding from trade and processor buyers, while restockers had very limited input.

Light weight 3 score new season lambs sold from $81-$101 and averaged 484c/kg cwt, while light trade weight 4 scores were plentiful and made $102-$116, or around 477c/kg cwt. Heavy trade weights sold from $112-$125 and averaged 473c/kg cwt and heavy weights made $127-$140, returning 480c/kg-493c/kg cwt. Old lambs sold from $74-$106 and hoggets made $45-$78.

The good selection of ewes sold to solid processor competition. Light weight 1 and 2 score ewes sold from $24-$34, while heavyweight 3 and 4 score crossbred ewes made $48-$68.

Store lambs up $4 at Katanning

In WA at the Katanning saleyards, the agents yarded 3900 lambs, 1400 more, and 8628 sheep, 1116 more.

The NLRS said warming conditions and the approach of harvest lifted numbers by almost a third. Lambs were mostly light weight young drafts, with an increased supply of shorn young drafts. Quality remained reasonably good, although weights continue to decline in both lamb and ewe categories. All buyers were active, with most prices firm or lifting slightly. Feeder and restocker orders were strong.

Light lamb to processors made from $65-$80 to be equal to last week. Trade lambs were limited in number, with most from $86-$95, back $2, with the few heavy lambs selling to a top of $105. Trade sales averaged close to 440c/kg cwt.

Store lambs to feeders and restockers made $55-$80. The better-framed drafts sold up to $4 dearer, with the light and immature drafts, including Merino drafts and shorn young lambs, lifting $5 and making from $32-$62. Old season lambs were firm, with trade sales from $75-$92 or 420c/kg cwt.

Ewe competition was strong, with solid restocker interest. Light weight sales to processors lifted by close to $8 for a $54 average. The 2 score processor mutton made from $50-$77, up $3, and averaging close to 290c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes sold close to equal, with prices from $65-$80, or 270c/kg cwt. Restockers purchased solid numbers of sound ewes between $60-$79, including Merino ewe hoggets. Wether prices were solid, with heavy weight drafts to live export and processors making $75-$88 and equal in price. Lighter drafts to live export and feeders made $65-$78, up $5, and light weight stores to restockers were strong, making $50-$65 to be up to $8 dearer. Ram prices remained similar, with ram lambs selling to $73 and young drafts going to live export and feeders for $25-$70. Old rams to processors made $5-$25.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus

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