SALEYARD slaughter lamb prices fell further this week as the southern Victorian lamb turn-off started to peak, but restocker prices were firm to better.
Strong restocker demand for light and light trade lambs continues to support the market as the numbers of heavier trade and heavy weight lambs increase, giving domestic and export processors more choice.
Light and restocker demand remains strong and is underpinning trade prices, with prices lifting up to $10 at Hamilton on Monday and forcing processors to pay more than 600c/kg at times. Light crossbred and Merino lambs sold restockers at rates up to $20 higher than last week at the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin.
In Victoria this week, over-the-hook rates for light and light trade lambs were lifted 33-50c/kg to 520-630c/kg as processors attempted to attract direct supplies rather than bid against restockers in saleyards.
Lamb offerings in some New South Wales markets are starting to decline, with more lambs going direct to processors or being shorn for marketing next year.
NLRS restocker indicator stays positive
The National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicator for restocker lambs recorded the only positive movement in the lamb categories early this week. After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the lamb ESDIs were: restocker 617c/kg, up 6 cents; Merino 497c/kg, down 4c; light 568c/kg, down 2c; trade 520c/kg, down 5c; heavy 512c/kg, down 4c. The national trade lamb indicator closed 4 cents down on 520c/kg and the heavy indice was 5 cents lower at 512c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton fell 9 cents yesterday to 393c/kg and the national indicator was 11 cent slower on 382c/kg.
Over-the-hook indicators lift in Victoria to attract light lambs
In Victoria, the NLRS quoted light and trade weight lamb over-the-hook indicators as 33-50c/kg higher week-on-week, with trade lambs averaging 560c/kg cwt. Victoria’s 2-4 score OTH lamb rates are: 16-22kg, 520-630c/kg, up 33-50c/kg; 22.24kg, 520-530c/kg, nc; 24-26kg+, 490-520c/kg, nc.
Victoria’s mutton indicators were higher across all categories, with medium weights averaging 380c/kg cwt. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 360-400c/kg, up 15c; 18-24kg, 350-400c/kg, up 10c; 24kg+, 300-370c/kg, up 13c.
In New South Wales, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb indicators eased slightly week-on-week, with trade weight lambs topping at 530c/kg cwt. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 490-530c/kg, down 2c; 20-22kg, 520-530c/kg, down 10c; 22-24c/kg, 520-540c/kg, down 3c; 24-26kg, 480-540c/kg, down 3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 400-500c/kg, down 7c.
Mutton indicators across all weight ranges were unchanged. The NSW sheep rates were: 14-18kg, 200-330c/kg; 18-24kg, 320-400c/kg; 24kg+, 3430-370c/kg.
In South Australia, the NLRS quoted lamb over-the-hook indicators as easing, with trade and heavy weight categories down 13c/kg cwt on average. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 400c/kg, down 20c; 18-20kg, 460-530c/kg, down 13c; 20-24kg, 500-530c/kg, down 13c; 24-26kg, 490-500c/kg, down 13c; Merinos, 420-460c/kg, down 20c.
Mutton indicators lifted 4c/kg cwt across all weight ranges. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 200-400c/kg, up 4c; 18-24kg, 240-390c/kg, up 4c; 24kg+, 280-370c/kg, up 4c.
The Western Australian and Tasmanian OTH reports were not available when this article was published.
Dubbo’s trade lambs $2-$3 cheaper
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards, the agents yarded 11,470 lambs, 1590 fewer than last week, and 7020 sheep, 2700 less.
The NLRS said it was a mixed lamb yarding with a fair selection of trade and heavy weights and good numbers of light lambs and hoggets.
Light weight lambs sold firm to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $77-$106. Trade lambs were $2-$3 cheaper, with the trade weight new season lambs selling from $101-$135, or 530-540c/kg.
Heavy weight lambs sold firm and extra heavy weights were $6 dearer. The few heavy weight new season lambs sold to $150.
Merino lambs were $3-$6 cheaper, with trade weights selling from $104-$122. Trade weight old lambs made $97-$136 and heavy weight 4 score old lambs sold from $138-$189.
Restockers paid to $103 for lambs and to $154 for first cross ewe hoggets. Processors paid to $120 for hoggets.
The good quality sheep yarding had some top lines of Merinos and crossbreds. Heavy weight Merinos were firm, but other Merinos and crossbreds sold $5-$8 cheaper. The 3 and 4 score medium and heavy weight Merino ewes sold from $77-$134 and crossbreds made to $116. Merino wethers sold to $136.
Corowa lambs down $9
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 6100 lambs, 2100 fewer than last week, and 3100 sheep, 600 less.
The NLRS said with harvest underway and many lambs being shorn for sale in the New Year, lamb numbers were back significantly. Quality varied throughout the sale, with most lambs being trade weights or secondary types, despite some excellent extra heavy lambs being offered. There were more shorn lambs
With one buyer absent, suitable lines for slaughter were back close to $9. New season light trade weight lambs sold up to $9 cheaper overall, with most making $103-$119. Medium trade weight sections were back $2 to $112-$137 and the heavier trades made $127-$145 to average 534c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $141-$153 and the extra heavy lambs made $150-$164. Restocker lambs (16-18kg) sold from $96-$118.
An export buyer was absent from the sheep pens this week. Quality fluctuated throughout the sale and prices were up to $7 cheaper. Heavy weight crossbred ewes made to $118 and Merino ewes sold to $117. Wethers made to $14 and hoggets to $130.
Solid demand for quality lambs at Tamworth
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3650 lambs, 750 more than last week, and 1500 sheep, 400 fewer.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was mixed, with a good selection of well-finished trade and heavy weights. There was a fair selection of secondary quality lambs. The usual buyers attended.
Demand was solid for well-finished trade and heavyweight lambs. The market trend was generally firm with some quality related price change. Secondary quality lambs sold firm to slightly cheaper to trade and export processors. There was a bit of restocker competition, but not many lambs choose from and the market trend was mostly firm.
The quality and condition of the grown sheep was mixed. Well-finished medium and heavyweight sheep sold firm to dearer. Some heavier weights were penned. The plainer condition lightweight sheep were generally firm.
Forbes trade lambs $4 cheaper
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 14,500 lambs, 3050 more than last week, and 5000 sheep, 1950 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was plainer. There were fewer unshorn new season lambs and more shorn heavy weights. Trade lambs were in short supply and store lambs were limited. The best lambs were heavy and extra heavy weights. Most of the usual buyers operated in the firm to cheaper market.
Restocking lambs were firm at $89-$115. Trade weights were $4 cheaper on average, with better shorn lambs holding firm. The medium and heavy trade weights sold from $105-$125. Heavy lambs were $1 cheaper at $115-$154. Extra heavy lambs reached $186. Carcase prices averaged 510-540c/kg. The best of the heavy hoggets reached $112.
Sheep quality varied, but there were some good runs of heavy weights. Prices were similar, with medium weights making $71-$105. Heavy crossbred ewes made to $128 and full wool Merinos sold to $135. Carcase prices averaged 380c/kg.
Inverell’s quality lambs firm
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3042 lambs, 692 more than two weeks ago, and 2949 sheep 1010 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed, with some good well-finished runs, some supplementary fed lines, but more light plain lambs.
The market varied, with better finished 3 score lambs selling close to firm, but plain lambs showing dryness were discounted.
There were good supplies of ewes and wethers. Quality was mixed, with some well-finished mutton carrying a good skin and some plain sheep. The market was generally firm with variations only in quality.
Hamilton’s light lambs lift up to $10
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 34,872 lambs, 12,837 more than last week.
The NLRS said lamb quality in the second Monday market was average to good, with all weights and grades offered. There were lighter weight lambs that suited store buyers. The usual processor buyers attended the weaker market.
Most heavy lambs eased $3-$4 and medium trade weights held firm. Light lambs sold to the strongest competition, generally lifting $5-$7 and up $10. The restockers from Penola, Swan Hill, Horsham, Shepparton, Deniliquin and local areas were active throughout the sale, purchasing light lambs from $71-$88 and the slightly better covered 2 and 3 score store lambs from $103-$116. Only a few drafts of light to medium trade weight lambs are being offered in each agent’s run. A large pen of 244 first cross ewe lambs sold to a local agent for $136.
Light 2 score young lambs sold to processors for $94-$106, averaging 610c/kg, and while light 2 and 3 score trade weight lambs made $102-$113, averaging 550c/kg. Medium 2 and 3 score trade weight lambs sold from $110-$128 and heavy 3 and 4 score trade weights made $120-$135, 458-547c/kg to average an estimated 500c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score weight lambs sold from $132-148 and heavy export lambs made $145-$172, averaging close to 495c/kg. A draft of old lambs sold for $107 and hoggets made $100-$105, averaging 400c/kg. Two lambs that were donated to men’s heath sold for a very generous $300.
Bendigo boosted by better skin prices
At the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,468 lambs, 3569 more than last week, and 6000 sheep.
The NLRS said a couple of agencies still had some very good runs of young lambs from southern grazing areas, but quality overall was plainer.
Price averages for slaughter lambs were similar to last Monday, taking into account buyers have been reporting better returns for skins and were confident of $12-$14 for the pelts off most trade and export pens. The market reached a top of $170 for a small pen lot of extra heavy young lambs over 30kg, one of just three sales over $160. This was followed by a range of $140-$155 for some pens of heavy lambs in the 26-28kg category.
Most of the trade weight lambs made $116-$138, depending on weight and quality, with the main runs of crossbred young lambs in the 22-24kg bracket averaging about $126. On a carcase basis, most slaughter lambs over 20kg were working out at 495-515c/kg cwt.
The trend for lightweight lambs was softer, although there were still some very strong sales to restockers. The main run of store lambs in the 16-18kg weight range sold from $104-$109 and averaged $107. Overall there were still only limited pens of very small lambs which sold for less than $100.
Competition between processors for mutton was not as buoyant and most sales eased by $5-$14. Most sheep are displaying plenty of weight and fat cover, particularly the biggest crossbred ewes. The supply of light weight mutton remained limited. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $102-$128.60. The lead drafts of Merino ewes made $96-$125. On a carcase basis, the best Merino mutton was trending around 400c/kg.
Ballarat’s light lambs lift $2
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 42,163 lambs, 8491 fewer than last week, and 9837 sheep, 2639 more.
The NLRS said the usual buyers bid on the good quality lamb yarding that had plenty of weight and finish.
The market gained momentum as the sale progressed, with the best heavy lambs selling to $185 and the heavier trade weights making $121-$136.50 and averaging around 500c/kg. The trade lambs sold similar to last week with lighter lambs were up to $2 dearer. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold mostly unchanged.
Restockers were again active and purchased lambs from $90-$124.50, or $51-$86 for lighter drafts. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $87-$100. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $98-$118 and averaged around 540c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs made $114-$131 and heavier drafts sold from $121-$136.50, or 480-550c/kg, to average around 500c/kg.
Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $130-$164 and extra heavy export lambs made $168-$185, averaging around 500c/kg. Heavy hoggets made-$135.20.
The sheep included all weights and grades, with plenty of well-conditioned lines. Restockers paid from $92-$132.50 for crossbred ewes and $71-$102 for Merino ewes. Mutton sheep generally sold to a dearer trend for the lighter and medium weight lines, and heavier drafts were firm to $5 easier.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $56-$84. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $64-$116, or 300-430c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 400c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $92-$123, heavy Merino wethers made $104-$125 and medium weights sold for $84-$102. Heavier Merino sheep averaged around 410c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep sold from $81-$136.
Dublin’s light crossbred and Merino lambs lift $20
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5500 lambs, 920 fewer than last week, and 3250 sheep, 1400 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality fell away dramatically, but prices remained firm week-on-week for type and quality. The usual trade and processor buyers attended, along with more restockers. While trade competition was subdued, restockers were animated in seeking suitable lots to feed on.
Light crossbred and Merino lambs sold restockers at rates up to $20 better than the previous sale. Restockers paid $50-$96 for light new season lambs up to 16kg. Light trade lambs sold from $90-$100, medium weights made $74-$125 and the heavy weights sold for $99-$142. Old light weight lambs sold mainly to restockers at $83-$96, light trade types made $88-$104 and the heavier types sold for $90-$154. Hoggets were well-supplied, with those up 22kg cwt selling for $62-$118 and the heavy weights making $95-$120.
A small selection of young ewes sold to restockers for $98-$119. Light ewes sold to the trade at $55-$86, medium weights made $60-$109 and heavy weights sold from $74-$116. Young wethers sold to restockers for $82-$136. Medium weight wethers sold to the trade for $84-$106 and heavier types made $95-$115. Light rams sold from $56-$118 and those over 26kg made $90-$114.
Naracoorte lamb prices generally firm
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,357 lambs, 1229 more than last week, and 2893 sheep, 705 more.
The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers were active, along with fewer restocker orders. Quality continued to fall, with fewer heavy lambs, more store lambs and large numbers of lambs showing dryness in the skin.
Heavy lambs eased in price, while stores held firm. Lightweight lambs sold to the trade for $94-$109 and lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $108-$117 to be firm overall. Restockers continued to bid strongly, even with less orders seeking supply, paying $77-$112 to keep prices firm. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold mainly from $111-$130. Heavy lambs made $122-$138 and the extra heavy types sold for $138-$163, all falling $6-$8. Hoggets sold from $86-$110,
Sheep continued to receive strong competition and prices from buyers, although with a softening in price for light weight ewes to $58-$86. Medium weight ewes sold from $86-$102 and heavy ewes made $97-$130, and falling up to $5 overall. Wethers sold to $130 and rams to $110.
Muchea lambs lift $2-$7
At the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6000 lambs, 2847 more than last week, and 4271 sheep, 771 more.
The NLRS said demand prior to the Christmas break lifted lamb numbers. were much higher, however a large proportion were light and store lambs suitable for restockers and-feed. The supply of good trade lambs was solid.
Competition from all the regular buyers pushed lamb prices up $2-$7. Restockers were active on any drafts offering opportunity. Light lambs sold to restockers for $50-$93, mostly $5 dearer. Light lambs sold to processors or feed made $75-$97, $1-$6 dearer. Trade lambs made $92-$111, to be firm to $8 dearer and close to 485c/kg. Heavy lambs also lifted by up to $6 to $108-$119.
Light ewes sold from $55-$67. The 2 score medium weight ewes made $65-$84, $6 dearer. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes lifted $2-$9 to $77-$100, with skin values of close to $20 on the dearest ewes. Restockers paid to $102 for suitable longer wool Merino drafts and others made $57-$90.
Wether and ram numbers were limited. Wethers sold close to firm, with the better export weight drafts making $85-$97 and the few long wool drafts $102. Small and store drafts made from $75-$95 depending on frame and skin values. Rams continued at similar prices, with the ram lambs making $76-$110 and younger drafts selling to exporters for $35-$90. Old rams sold to processors for $10-$55.
Tasmanian lambs attract strong restocker interest
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1100 lambs, 510 more, and 650 sheep, 50 more.
The NLRS said more trade lambs attracted strong restocker interest. The quality of heavy and heavy trade lambs was again excellent and prices were similar with restockers putting a solid floor in the prices for lambs under 18kg. This in turn is making it difficult for both exporters into the Middle East and local wholesalers looking for light trade side lambs.
Restockers bought very small lambs for $60-$79, light $86-$105 and light trade and trade $100-$110. The trade paid $108-$125 for trade lambs, $120-$131 for heavy and $128-$140 for extra heavy pens.
Mutton prices were a little cheaper than last week’s record sale. Medium weight ewes made $72-$96 and heavy ewes $80-$104. Restockers paid $107 for two lines of Merino wethers with good skins.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.