Restocker lamb rates were the big movers on the Australian market last week, with MLA reporting a 95 cent jump in the eastern states indicator to 490 cents.
Trade and heavy Lamb prices finished last week relatively firm though trending easier, with rates improving at Griffith, but slipping at Cowra and Shepparton.
Restocker interest on suitable lambs remained high in NSW and South Australia, especially in areas where failed crops and homegrown grain, provided opportunities to add value. At Wagga last week, the restocker indicator hit 545c/kg and at SA’s Livestock Exchange at Dublin it reached 532c/kg.
Related to this were reports at Griffith last week of grass seeds in many lines, sounding a warning for producers, agents, restockers and processors as the season dries off.
Confidence, grass seeds and value-adding driving restocker puchases
Landmark national livestock manager Mark Barton said apart from an overall level of confidence in the state of the lamb market, restocker price drivers currently include the need for professional lamb finishers to secure adequate supplies now to avoid grass seed issues later on. Areas of western NSW and SA, and the Riverina were starting to dry off.
Opportunities to add value to failed crops and homegrown grain were also factors in restocking lamb buying, despite average to below average seasons in many areas of the country, Mr Barton said. The more sophisticated lamb finishing sector that operated on price/kilogram, cost control and with forward contracts, regarded current restocker rates as still good, he said.
MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service said the Eastern State Trade Lamb indicator finished the week on 491 cents, down one cent on Thursday, and the heavy lamb indicator closed at 481 cents, down two cents. The Merino lamb indicator closed at 415 cents, down one cent on the previous day, but up 22 cents for the week.
Over-the-hook rates unchanged to slightly better
Over-the-hook rates aimed at the new season turnoff were unchanged to slightly better in most states last week, except in Western Australia.
MLA said in NSW, over-the-hook rates held relatively steady, with only one contributor lifting their rates. Mutton rates were also unchanged. The NSW, OTH average rates for 2-4 score lambs started this week at 18-22kg, 499c/kg, +2c; 22-24kg, 491, +3; 24-26, 474, no change; Merino 16-22kg, 390, nc. Sheep rates are 14-18kg, 262, nc; 18-24kg, 294, nc; 24kg+, 309, nc.
In Victoria, light and trade weight lamb carcase rates increased this week, while heavy weight and Merino lambs remained firm. The majority of contributors left mutton rates unchanged, MLA said. The Victorian OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs today are 16-18kg, 533, +13; 18-22kg, 532, +8; 22-26kg, 523, nc; 26kg+, 495, nc, and; Merinos 16-22kg, 420, nc. Sheep rates are 0-14, 247, nc; 14-18kg, 279, nc; 18-24kg, 313, nc, and; 24kg+, 310, nc.
In SA, over-the-hook lamb and mutton rates were unchanged last week. The rates for lamb started this week at 18-26kg, 490, nc; 26kg+, 460, nc, and; Merinos 16-22kg, 450, nc. Sheep rates are 14-18kg, 215, nc; 18-24kg, 280, nc, and 24kg+, 280, nc.
In WA, prime and light lamb OTH rates dropped 10-20 cents, with Merinos down three cents. WA lamb rates are 16-18kg, 480, -15; 18-22kg, 538, -15; 22-24kg, 543, down 10; 24-26kg, 520, -15; 26kg+, 507, -20, and; Merinos 16-22kg, 433, -3. Sheep were unchanged at 14-18kgm, 255, nc, and; 18-24kg, 277, nc.
In Tasmania, OTH rates were unchanged for lambs and sheep. Lamb rates started the week on 0-16kg, 510; 16-18kg, 525; 18-26kg, 565, and 26kg+, 560. Sheep rates are 0-14kg, 340; 14-18kg, 350; 18-24kg, 365, and 24kg+, 360.
NSW first cross ewes sell to $164 on AuctionsPlus
Young unjoined first cross ewes were a highlight this week with ewe lambs making between $88.50 and $149. The 1-2 year-old unjoined first cross ewes fared slightly better though with prices ranging between $152 and $164. The top price for first cross ewes was $164 for 600 12-13 month-old unjoined 60 kg Cadell blood ewes from AM and CG Gadsby, Wombang East, Euchareena, south of Wellington and offered through Halcroft and Bennett, Gulargambone. Another 800 of the Gadsby ewes made $158-$163.50.
Unjoined Merino ewe hogget prices were unchanged on AuctionsPlus this week selling from $62.50 to $140, with the top price buying a line of 13-14 month old Bungaree blood Merino ewes out of Robertstown S.A, averaging 56kg, with an April skin.
Mutton prices were up 13 cents on last week and this was reflected in the sheep sales with processors snapping up a few big lines of heavy mutton. Carcase prices were between 296c/kg-345c to average 329c/kg. The highlight of the week was a line of 1084 three-year-old mid-April shorn Merino wethers from BG and M Stewart, Mount View, Mount Hope near Cobar, that weighed in at 73.5kg live (31.3kg cwt) and sold for $105 though Landmark West Wyalong.
There was a real variance in weights for new season crossbred lambs offered on the system this week but prices remained strong in all categories. The 24kg-28kg first and second cross lambs made $55.50-$71, the 30kg-32kg drafts sold from $81-$81.50, and the 38kg-41kg lambs made between $87.50-$102. The top price was for a line of almost 2000, 3-4 month-old first cross mix sex lambs out of Bellata in NSW, with an average weight of 40kg.
Lambs sell firm to cheaper at Cowra
At the Cowra saleyards on Friday, agents yarded 8200 good quality lambs, 18 fewer, and 800 sheep, 480 less.
The NLRS said the 7300 new season lambs offered were in better condition than last week The old lambs were mainly well-presented trade and heavyweights. A handy supply of store lambs suitable for the restockers was yarded. All the buyers were present and operating except for one and competition was varied, resulting in a firm to cheaper market.
Light young lambs averaged $77.40, while restocking lambs averaging $80-$89. Medium and heavy trade weight new seasons were firm to $5 cheaper and averaged around 475c/kg cwt. Most of the fresh heavy trade weights sold from $105-$112. Heavyweight lambs were firm to slightly easier and averaged 461c/kg cwt. A few pens of extra heavyweight new seasons sold from $127-$133.
Old trade lambs were firm and averaged $95.50 or 438c/kg cwt. Heavyweights were firm to cheaper and averaged around 432c/kg cwt. A few pens of extra heavyweight lambs sold from $135-$140.
Mutton quality was varied. Heavy first cross ewes were $3 dearer and averaged $88 or 273c/kg cwt. Medium weight wethers averaged $61.50, while heavy grades sold to $85.
Trade weight lambs $3 dearer at Griffith
At Griffith on Friday, agents yarded 19,100 mostly heavy and extra heavy lambs, 3200 more, and 6400 sheep, 300 more.
The NLRS said there were 13,700 fair quality new season lambs penned. There were good numbers of fresh well-finished lambs on offer, but more pens showing seed contamination. The usual buyers competed in a firm to dearer market.
Light new season lambs held firm, selling from $94-$104. Trade weights were firm to $3 dearer, with prices ranging from $102-$124. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold firm to $2 dearer, from $118-$130 for the heavies and $125-$149 for the extra heavies. Carcase prices averaged from 456c/kg-510c/kg. Old lambs sold firm to $3 dearer, with trade weights making $74-$111, heavies $109-$123 and extra heavies $120-$155.
Mutton quality fell slightly. Merino ewes made $71-$107 and crossbreds ranged from $78-$102.
Lamb prices eased $6 at Shepparton
In Victoria at Shepparton on Friday, agents yarded 3433 lambs, 167 fewer, and 366 sheep, 234 less.
The NLRS said most of yarding was new season lambs from the local Goulburn Valley area. There was slightly less weight and finish in the young lambs compared to the previous sale, but even taking this into account, bidding was fairly patchy and prices eased about $6. The better quality trade weight lambs were the least affected by the softer trend. The usual domestic buyers and one export order operated.
The top price for young lambs was $136 for a pen estimated at 27kg with an $8 skin — one of only a handful of sales over the $130 mark. Most young lambs weighed 21kg-24kg cwt and sold from $105-$128, or about 470c/kg-480c/kg cwt, with some of the neatest and freshest trade weight lambs making 500c/kg cwt. Light weight young lambs generally sold from $85-$93, with little restocker interest shown.
The offering of old season lambs was very mixed and mainly of plain quality, with prices ranging from $76-$105 and tending cheaper than last week.
Trade weight and heavy ewes sold from $66-$85, to average around 280c/kg-290c/kg cwt.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, Landmark.