Domestic Lamb

Restockers buy heavier as trade gets selective on quality

Terry Sim October 15, 2014
These White Suffolk-first cross lambs, at 18.4kg cwt, sold for $100 on AuctionsPlus this week

These White Suffolk-first cross lambs, at 18.4kg cwt, sold for $100 on AuctionsPlus this week

Restockers continued to dominate at saleyards across Australia early this week, buying heavier lambs while domestic and export buyers search for freshness in increasingly dry lamb offerings.

With the southern new season lamb turn-off barely started apart from Horsham, the National Livestock Reporting Services indicators reflected the subdued trade competition and number of seasonally light lambs on offer.

The eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator closed on Tuesday at 458c/kg cwt, down three cents, and the heavy lamb indicator finished at 455c/kg, down two cents. The ES mutton indicator dropped three cents to 303c/kg cwt as processors with sheep booked direct could afford to be selective.

The national indicators all fell as demand dropped slightly on quality, even for restocker lambs, though their rates remain 25-51 cents/kg cwt higher than the other categories. The national lamb indicators on Tuesday night were: restocker 482c/kg, down 10 cents; Merinos 397c/kg, down 2c; light 431c/kg, down 7c; trade 457c/kg, down 1c, and; heavy 453c/kg, down 2c. The national mutton indicator closed at 299c/kg, down 3c.

Over-the-hook lamb rates fall in Victoria, Tasmania and WA

Over-the-hook lamb rates fell in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia this week, but remained firm in South Australia and New South Wales. Mutton rates held firm in all states except WA and Tasmania.

The NLRS said NSW OTH lamb rates remained fairly stable this week, with trade lambs averaging 490c/kg cwt. Mutton rates were unchanged. NSW lamb rates are 18-24kg, 490c/kg, down 1 cent; 24-26kg, 473c/kg, no change; 26kg+, 463c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22, 395c/kg, nc. Sheep: 14-18kg, 258c/kg; 18-24kg, 292c/kg; 24kg+, 307c/kg. Sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 243c/kg; 18-24kg, 292c/kg; 24kg+, 307c/kg.

In Victoria, the NLRS said OTH lamb prices declined overall this week, with the majority of contributors reporting a slightly cheaper market. Mutton rates were also back, although no trend was reported due to a contributor not quoting this week. Lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 465c/kg, down 15c; 18-20kg, 466c/kg, down 6c; 20-22kg, 476c/kg, down 6c; 22-24kg, 480c/kg, down 5c; 24-26kg, 467, down 7c; 26kg+, 450c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 415c/kg, nc. Sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 243c/kg; 18-24kg, 286c/kg; 24kg+, 275c/kg.

In SA, the NLRS said OTH lamb and mutton rates remained firm this week, with contributors reporting very little change in the market. Lamb rates are: 18-24kg, 480c/kg, nc; 24-26kg+, 455c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 465c/kg, nc. Sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 180c/kg; 18-24kg+, 260c/kg.

In WA, most OTH lamb and mutton category rates were lowered. The Lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 425c/kg, down 15c; 18-22kg, 440c/kg, down 10c; 22-26kg, 445c/kg, down 15c; 26kg+, 433c/kg, down 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 393c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 235c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 250c/kg, down 13c; 24kg+, 250c/kg, down 13c.

In Tasmania, OTH lamb  and mutton rates were lowered significantly. The lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 460c/kg, down 30c; 16-18kg, 460c/kg, down 30c; 18-20kg, 465c/kg, down 25c; 20-24kg, 470c/kg, down 20c; 24-26kg+, 465c/kg, down 5c. The mutton rates are: 0-14kg, 290c/kg, down 30c; 14-18kg, 310c/kg, down 20c; 18-24kg+, 310c/kg, down 30c.

Dubbo lambs cheaper

In NSW at Dubbo’s saleyards on Monday, agents yarded 28,400 plainer quality lambs, 265 fewer than last week, and 13,225 sheep, 3255 more.

The NLRS said the yarding included new season lambs presenting in dry condition. The old lamb quality was mixed, with some good pens of heavy weights and only limited numbers of trade weights.

Trade weight lambs were $4-$5 cheaper, with 18-22kg new season lambs selling from $76-$110, to average 438c/kg. Trade weight old lambs sold from $75-$115. Heavy weight lambs were $12 cheaper, with over 22kg new season lambs selling from $105-$118 and the over 22kg old lambs sold from $97-$135. Merino lambs were $5 cheaper, with trade weights selling from $76-$108 and the heavier weights sold to $115. Lightweight lambs were $4 cheaper, with over 12kg 2 scores selling from $43-$86. Restockers paid to $97 and the best hoggets sold for $94.

It was a plainer quality yarding of mutton, with more lightweight sheep than previous sales. Lightweight sheep were dearer, while the better quality sheep were mostly firm. The 2 score ewes sold from $24-$69, while the better 3 and 4 score Merinos sold from $55-$110 and the crossbred lines made $75-$95. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $66-$98.

Trade lambs firm at Tamworth

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3215 lambs, 255 more than last week, and 2000 sheep, 900 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to good, with a noticeable drop off in the two weeks since the last sale. Young lambs made up half the penning. The usual buyers operated, with local butcher orders underpinning the market.

Compared to the market trend two weeks ago, the young lambs to the trade remained mostly firm. There were odd sales slightly cheaper, with the drop in quality possibly accounting for this. There was some restocker activity on the light weight and leaner young lambs.

In the old lamb section the market trend for the heavier weight classes was cheaper, down by $4-$6. Prices fell further for the lighter weight and secondary quality old lambs.

The trend in the sheep market was cheaper for the very mixed quality offering. Some quite large reductions in price also reflected a sharp drop in quality compared to the previous sale’s offering. An offering of about 350 ewe-lamb units not included in the yarding total made from $36 to $100 per unit.

Forbes lambs sell firm to $4 up

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,450 lambs, 14,350 fewer than last week, and 8700 sheep, 3750 fewer.

The NLRS said there were 10,200 new season lambs penned and quality was similar to the previous sale. There were good numbers of well-finished lambs on offer, though more showed signs of seed and burr contamination. The usual buyers competed in a firm to dearer market.

Light new season lambs lifted $4, selling from $92-$96. Trade weights were firm to $4 better with prices ranging from $95-$122. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs lifted $2-$4. Heavy lambs sold from $114-$128 and extra heavy weight lines made $125-$138. Carcase prices ranged from 479c/kg-496c/kg cwt. Old trade weight lambs sold from $84-$96, heavy weights made $99-$110 and extra heavy weight lambs from $116-$146.

The sheep were mostly mixed quality Merinos. Prices were fairly similar, with Merino ewes selling from $71-$100. Crossbreds ranged from $70-$93, while Dorper ewes sold for $84-$95. Merino wethers made $71-$98.

Inverell demand good for small yarding

At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2385 lambs, 524 fewer than last week, and 1119 sheep, 49 more.

The NLRS said rain on Monday afternoon contributed to a smaller yarding of lambs and sheep than was drawn for. The good quality yarding consisted of a few pens of young lambs and a good supply of trade and heavy weights. The market was generally strong with young lambs topping at $128. Trade weight old lambs met strong competition, but the heavier trade weights attracted the keenest demand.

The yarding of mutton consisted mainly of well-finished ewes and wethers. The market was initially subdued, however strengthened as the sale progressed.

Restockers dictate rates at Bendigo

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 21,723 lambs, 2171 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said there was a noticeable decline in lamb quality, with most young lambs now lacking bloom and showing dry skins due to the warm and windy weather. While all the regular abattoir buyers attended, the market was dominated by restocker competition and this had an impact on sale results. Prices for domestic and export lambs to slaughter averaged $2-$5 cheaper compared to the previous week, however pens of lighter weight store lambs were often a few dollars dearer. Restocker competition was very strong from Ballarat, Echuca, Bendigo, Shepparton, Birchip and Warracknabeal.

The bulk of the lighter weight store lambs sold to restockers from $76-$90, averaging around $85 to be a few dollars dearer in places. There were more young Merino and light weight lambs from the Riverina which sold from $56-$79, with buyers putting little value on their skins due to seed infestation. Ballarat agents once again stepped into the restocker trade lamb section and paid to $112 for heavier store lambs. The bulk of the young lambs were trade weights, 20-22kg, and most sales ranged from $95-$116 or an estimated 455c/kg-480c/kg cwt depending on quality and freshness.

Slaughter lambs, 23-25kg sold from $118-$127. The heavier young lambs were estimated at 465c/kg-470c/kg cwt, with buyers putting a slightly higher value – up to $9 – on good quality, clean skins this week. The market reached a top of $139 for a pen of young lambs estimated to weigh about 28kg cwt. As there were only limited pens of heavy young lambs, bidding only went over $130 on a few occasions. The supply of old season lambs continued to dwindle, with the best making to $120.

Young lamb turn-off increasing at Bendigo

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 16,778 lambs, 2683 more than last week, and 6508 sheep, 4801 fewer.

The NLRS said the young lamb selling season was gathering momentum. Quality was average with most weights and grades represented, although there were fewer heavy lambs. The usual buyers operated in a mostly firm lamb market with some of the best lighter trade weight lambs selling a couple of dollars better.

Restockers were again active from local, north east and Mallee areas, sourcing light lambs from $40-$69 and paying from $77-$105 for heavier drafts.

Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $63-$86. Lighter trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $78-$96, with heavier drafts selling from $87-$107. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $100-$110, with the heavier lots from $108-$124, and they ranged from 430c/kg-510c/kg, to average around 470c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $119-$130. The best of the old lambs made $75-$110, with hoggets to $100.

Mutton quality was mixed and not all the usual buyers operated fully. Wethers sold mostly firm and ewe mutton eased $2-$4. Large numbers of recently-shorn Merino wethers were mainly purchased by restockers and feeders for $58-$82, with several pens of young Merino wethers returning to the paddock selling from $52-$64. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $28-$54, with very light 1 scores selling from $15-$31. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $40-$65 and averaged around 250c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $54-$71.20, with heavy Merino wethers to the trade making $55-$76.20 and medium weights $46-$74.

Restockers pay to $101 at Naracoorte

In SA at the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,555 lambs, 7839 more than last week, and 2893 sheep, 144 more.

The NLRS said more light weight lambs were penned. Most of the processor buyers were present and there was strong restocker activity. Prices were cheaper, with most light weight, trade and restocker lambs $4-$8 lower, although the heavier export weights generally sold $3-$4 easier. Sheep were mainly $10-$15 lower due to the mixed quality and wide weight range offered.

The light weight 2 score lambs sold from $50-$76, with restockers paying to $81. The light trade weight 2 and 3 scores made $78-$88, with restockers paying up to $101 for one pen of medium trade weights. Most 3 score medium to heavy trade weight lambs sold for $86-$112, or around 460c/kg cwt. The 4 score heavy export lambs made from $107-$134, or around 465c/kg cwt.

The sheep were mainly ewes, with a few rams. A run of 2 to 4 score ewe sheep mainly ranged between 200c/kg-250c/kg cwt. The light weight 1 and 2 score ewes sold from $26-$45, while medium weight 2 and 3 scores made $45-$64 and the 3 to 5 score heavy weights $55-$76. Better quality rams sold from $17-$37, with the plain to average quality making $10-$25.

Lamb prices ease $3-$9 at Dublin

At the SA Livestock Exchange in Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,039 lambs, 3986 more than last week, and 5082 sheep, 1559 more.

The NLRS said the very mixed quality crossbred and Merino lambs sold to generally easing competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeders and restockers were more prominent and the easing prices enabled buyers to operate on heavier lambs to feed on. Prices opened strongly but deteriorated as the sale progressed.

Crossbred lambs in general tended to lack condition and the new season Merinos yarded were sought by restockers at lower prices.

Light weight new season crossbreds to feeders eased $7 and sold from $54-$80, while heavier 3 scores to feeders returned $75-$85. Light weight 3 score crossbreds to trade buyers sold from $73-$95 and averaged 423c/kg cwt. Light weight Merino lambs to restockers sold from $37-$45, while light weights to processors eased $4, selling from $82-$92 and averaged 430c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 score crossbreds eased $8 to sell from $94-$100 and average 441c/kg cwt, while heavy trade weights eased $6 and sold from $102-$118 to average 441c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 score Merinos sold from $86-$91 and averaged 386c/kg cwt. Heavy weight crossbreds eased $3-$9, making from $110-$136 and returning 447c/kg cwt. The heavy weight old Merino lambs yarded sold from $80-$102.

Despite the larger yarding of sheep, demand from the usual buyers and one new operator was stronger. Restockers bought ewes from $65-$69, while 2 score ewes to processors lifted marginally to sell from $55-$64. Heavy weight 3 score ewes lifted $7 and sold from $51-$73, averaging 209c/kg cwt, while heavy weight wethers were plentiful, lifting substantially to sell from $60-$91. Heavy weight rams sold from $36-$72.

Lamb prices mostly firm at Muchea

In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6000 lambs, 2743 more than last week, and 7537 sheep, 37 more.

The NLRS said lamb numbers lifted due to the warming conditions and the approach of harvest, with almost 3000 new season lambs offered. Quality continued to ease with only a few pens of prime trade lambs available and the remainder being either light weight or store conditioned. Competition from a full field of buyers kept the market close to firm for most categories and rates for restocking lamb drafts lifted slightly.

Light weight young lambs lifted around $4, with most sales from $60-$85. Plainer conditioned trade lambs eased slightly and made $81-$97, while the prime trade drafts sold firm, from $85-$108. Most prime trade lamb sold at close to 450c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold to a top of $110. Shorn young lambs sold well with the best trade sales around 480c/kg cwt. Old season lambs remained close to equal, with the better trade weight drafts making $80-$98 or 440c/kg cwt. Competition for light lambs to restockers and feeders lifted slightly with better framed drafts to feed making $70-$81, while lighter drafts from $45-$71.

The ewe mutton included some good heavy weight drafts along with reasonable numbers of medium and light conditioned drafts. Prices for heavier ewes lifted, while plainer drafts sold slightly easier to firm. Light weight ewes sold from $30-$49 and medium weight 2 score ewes were slightly easier and sold from $48-$72. Heavy weight and better conditioned ewes made $60-$100, up $8, with the highest priced ewes carrying a $13 skin. Restockers secured Merino ewe hoggets for $35-$65, similar to recent sales, and paid $50-$79 for suitable mature Merino ewe drafts.

Wether and rams continued to find live export support to remain firm. Heavy wethers made from $75 to a top of $110 for an extra heavy weight draft with long skins. Live exporters paid $63-$86 for suitable lines. Restockers and feeders were active with prices at $48-$78.

Mutton export demand weaker in Tasmania

At the Northern Tasmanian saleyards on Tuesday, agents yarded 850 lambs, 154 more than last week, and 850 sheep, 660 more.

The NLRS said there more new season lambs yarded and the number of sheep increased due to the state’s southern regions drying out very quickly.

There were 266 young lambs, including 113 stores, and these met a similar market with trade pens selling for $101-$117 and heavy lambs making $125-$128. Some very young stores made $50-$80.

Trade old lambs made $91-$110 and heavy lambs sold from $110-$112 which was similar to last sale.

There was a much larger penning mutton with more light and very light sheep. Export demand was much weaker with many sheep selling $15 cheaper with the Victorian buyers saying they had plenty of sheep booked in as their season gets dry. Very light ewes and wethers made from $22-$30, while restockers bought very light wethers for $35-$42.

Light mutton made from $23-$47, medium weights sold from $39-$56 and heavy ewes made from $38-$50.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.

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