Domestic Lamb

Saleyard and grid lamb prices slump as exporters sell into the domestic market

Sheep Central March 11, 2015
These 17.6kg cwt Poll Dorset cross lambs at Boorowa sold for $100 on AuctionsPlus this week

These 17.6kg cwt Poll Dorset cross lambs at Boorowa sold for $100 on AuctionsPlus this week

Export quality lambs sold onto the domestic market helped drag major eastern states saleyard trade lamb prices back by up to $20 mid-week, agents were told.

Charles Stewart and Co auctioneer Jamie McConachy said export lamb prices have been in a downward spiral for four consecutive weeks and he has been told the boxed lamb processors could not export is being sold onto the domestic market.

“Consequentially it has flowed onto the trade lamb job being a lot cheaper also this week, up to $20.

“That’s pretty much the general consensus, that’s what’s happening.”

Mr McConachy said one Victorian exporter said it had never had “so much boxed lamb just sitting about.”

“And basically they are desperate to get rid of it and they are pouring it into the domestic market and consequentially yesterday they were hardly interested in buying lambs.”

He believed all the exporters were putting lambs onto the domestic market “to various levels”.

“So yesterday (Tuesday at Ballarat) was blood ugly.”

Mr McConachy said many of the lambs yet to be sold were on grain and holding them in feedlots was costing lot feeders every day.

“They’ve been feeding them for that long now, in some cases they just want to sell them.

“All of a sudden as a result of yesterday, we are seeing blokes just wanting to hook their lambs, they are not interested in the marketplace,” he said.

“As a result of that, the hook prices yesterday came back 10 cents across the board.”

Farmers are now becoming angry that the delay at export and domestic processing plants to book their lambs in has extended out to two weeks, he said.

“Basically we are seeing blokes wanting to book lambs in, and sit and wait to get them killed over the hooks.

“I think you will see saleyard numbers cut back by possibly half next week.”

Hamilton lambs also sustain a big price drop today

Early reports from Hamilton today indicate prices for the best 18-25 kg cwt lambs dropped $5-$10 today, with the top 22kg lambs least-affected. Plainer trade weight lambs sold $10-plus cheaper and lines of extra light and store lambs were $15-$20 cheaper.

The seasonal and market forces meant processors were able to pull lamb prices back in saleyards mid-week, including in NSW where drafts are showing dryness from the seasonal conditions. Continued buyer pressure on lamb prices is also reflected in generally lower over-the-hook rates, especially in NSW and Victoria.

Mutton prices in some saleyards also came under pressure, especially where yardings increased.

NLRS lamb and mutton indicators fall

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted all major national and Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb and mutton as lower. The ESDIs for lamb are: restocker 538c/kg, down 2 cents; Merinos 464c/kg, down 8 cents; light 511c/kg, down 9 cents; trade 522c/kg, down 4 cents and heavy lambs 518c/kg, down 7 cents. The national trade lamb indicator closed on 523c/kg, down 5 cents and the national indice was 518c/kg, down 7 cents.

The ES mutton indicator fell 2 cents to close on 356c/kg and the national indice was 355c/kg, a daily fall of 7 cents.

Processors drop lamb grid rates, hold mutton firm

In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb prices across all weight ranges continued to ease in NSW. However, mutton prices were not as affected, lifting this week as supply tightens. NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 480-560c/kg, down 5 cents; 20-22kg, 510-560, down 5c; 22-24kg, 500-560, down 3c; 24-26kg, 500-520, down 2c; Merinos 16-22kg, 400-480, no change. The 2-4 score OTH sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-300c/kg, up 3 cents; 18-24kg, 280-360, no change; 24kg+, 320-360, up 2c.

In Victoria, the NLRS said light and trade weight over-the-hook lamb rates declined 10c/kg and 5c/kg cwt week-on-week, respectively, while heavy weight and Merino categories remained firm. Mutton rates were unchanged week-on-week. Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 550-560c/kg, down 10 cents; 18-22kg, 550-570, down 5c; 22-24kg, 560-570, no change; 24-26kg, 530-560, nc; 26kg+, 530, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 500, nc. The 2-4 score OTH sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 290-340c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 320-350, nc; 24kg+, 310-340, nc.

In SA, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates remained unchanged across all categories this week, with trade weight lambs reaching tops of 570c/kg cwt. Mutton over-the-hook rates were also firm week-on-week. SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530c/kg; 18-24kg, 530-570,; 24-26kg, 530; Merinos 16-22kg, 490. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 210-320; 18-24kg, 270-320; 24kg+, 310-350.

In WA, the NLRS over-the-hook rates for trade lambs lifted 2c/kg this week, but all other lamb and sheep rates were unchanged. WA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 450-530c/kg, nc; 18-22kg, 510-535, up 2 cents; 22-26kg, 520, nc; 26kg+, 470-530, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 400-480, nc. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 230-240, nc; 18-24kg, 240-280, nc.

In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted the over-the-hook rates for lamb and mutton as unchanged. Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 460-480c/kg; 16-18kg, 48-500; 18-22kg, 50-540; 22-26kg+, 520-540. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 280-320; 14-18kg, 290-330; 18-24kg, 310-330; 24kg+, 300-330.

Dubbo’s heavy lambs $6-$11 cheaper

In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yards 26,000 lambs, 2200 more than last week, and 12,500 sheep, 1030 fewer.

The NLRS said the mixed quality yarding of lambs had some top heavy weight lambs, very few ideal trade weights and more light weights lacking finish.

Lightweight lambs were $4-$6 cheaper with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $62-$94. Trade lambs were $6-$8 cheaper with the 18-22kg 3 scores selling from $82-$120, to average 488c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $6-$11 cheaper with over 22kg 4 scores selling from $108-$165.

Merino lambs were $5-$8 cheaper with trade weights selling from $73-$105, while the heavier weight Merinos sold to $123. Restockers paid to $102 and hoggets sold to $108.

It was a much plainer quality yarding of mutton with larger numbers of lightweight sheep. The plainer conditioned ewes and wethers sold up to $10 cheaper, while the better medium and heavy weights were firm to $5 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $16-$73, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $65-$109 for crossbreds and to $114 for Merinos. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $89-$111.

Tamworth’s trade lambs firm to dearer

In the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2730 lambs, 180 more than last week, and 2200 sheep, 1000 fewer.

The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to very good with trade and heavy weights well-represented. There were some fair quality crossbred lambs suitable for restocker orders along with the usual secondary quality lambs.

The usual trade buyers attended, but there was less restocker activity. The quality and weight of the restocker lambs was below that of last week and resulted in a downward trend in prices. The market trend for the good quality medium and heavy trade lambs was firm to slightly dearer. Export weight lambs sold to a cheaper trend, although the fall was minimal.

The quality of the sheep penning was fair to good with large lines of quality Merino ewes and wethers. The market for ewes to process was firm to slightly cheaper with the exception of a high quality pen of 3/4 wool, sound-mouthed Merino ewes purchased by a restocker. The market for Merino wethers was dearer with weight and quality being contributing factors.

Forbes’ trade lambs $5 cheaper

In the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 21,500 lambs, 5600 fewer than last week, and 8330 sheep, 370 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to the previous sale with some well-finished and plainer pens. More lambs showed signs of dryness. The usual buyers competed in a cheaper market.

Light lambs eased $3 to sell from $86-$95. Trade weights were $5 cheaper with prices ranging from $91-$123. Trade weight Merinos sold from $91-$116. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were back $5-$7. Heavy lambs sold from $117-$136 and extra heavy weights made $133-$179. Carcase prices averaged from 497-545c/kg cwt.

The sheep were mostly mixed quality Merinos. Merino ewes sold from $77-$123. Crossbred ewes ranged from $76-$120. Dorper ewes sold from $75-$103. Merino wethers received from $76-$110.

Ballarat lambs $5-$10 down

At the Ballarat saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 26,234 lambs, 1993 fewer than last week, and 13,590 sheep, 4805 more.

The NLRS said the quality of the trade weight and heavy lambs was good. There were also good supplies of lighter lambs suitable for processors and restockers. The usual buyers operated in a mostly cheaper market with heavier lambs easing $6-$10, while the better covered trade weights sold firm to $5 down on last week.

Restockers and feeders were active, paying mostly from $81.60-$116. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $48-$84. Lighter trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $89-$118. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $104-$137, from 480-550c/kg cwt to average around 525c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $130-$168, to average around 515c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $145.50-$168.

The sheep offering comprised all weights and grades, including some good runs of Merino ewes and wethers. Most sheep sold to a cheaper trend to be generally $5-$10 easier. Restocker and feeders paid from $90-$100 for runs of Merino ewes in near-full wool. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $40-$74.50. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $56.50-$103, or from 290-370c/kg cwt to average around 340c/kg.

Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $78-$104, with heavy crossbred wethers making to $110. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $82-$120 and the medium weights made $61-$100 to range from 350-355c/kg cwt.

Dublin light lambs fall $3-$20

At Dublin’s SA Livestock Exchange, the agents yarded 10,031 lambs, 241 more than last week, and 2125 sheep, 383 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said the generally very good quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to easing competition from local and interstate trade and processor buyers, and one major processor failed to operate.

Feeder buyers were reluctant to bid with the same strength as recent weeks and they purchased late drop 2014 lambs at cheaper rates.

Light weight 2 score crossbreds to feeders eased $3, and as much as $20 in places, to sell for $68-$109. Light weight 3 scores to trade buyers eased $11, to make $80-$110 and average 477c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores eased $10, selling from $106-$118 and averaging 489c/kg, while heavy trade weight 3 scores eased $7, to $102-$125 and average 464c/kg. Heavy weights eased $7-$13 and sold from $120-$150, or from 478-488c/kg cwt. Extra heavy weights sold from $142-$157. Light weight Merinos attracted restocker interest and sold from $59-$90. Trade weight Merinos eased $7, selling from $92-$102 and averaging 433c/kg cwt. The heavy weights eased $5, from $101-$116 and averaged 440c/kg cwt.

The mixed quality sheep sold to waning processor interest. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $59-$75, averaging 270c/kg cwt, while heavy weight 3 score ewes eased $4, to $70-$102 and averaged 287c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers were scarce and lifted $9, selling from $90-$115, to average 320c/kg cwt. Heavy weight rams eased $3, making $70-$95.

Lamb prices ease at Naracoorte

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5192 lambs, 1806 more than last week, and 914 sheep, 446 fewer.

The NLRS said a large number of store lambs came forward to sell to strong restocker support and the usual trade and processor buyers also attended. Quality was mixed and prices tended to ease across the market.

Light weight lambs to the trade mainly ranged from $75-$97 while light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $98-$102. A number of strong restocker orders purchased lambs to turn out from $32-$105. These lambs were $4-$6 easier. Merino lambs mainly ranged in price from $42-$95 and a run of first cross ewe lambs sold to a restocker for $116.

The small number trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $92-$107 at an average of 485c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $115-$155.

The few hoggets mainly ranged from $85-$95 and Merino wethers made $85-$92. The small number of ewes offered sold $5 easier. The lighter types sold from $76-$90 at an average of 340c/kg cwt. The heavier ewes ranged from $84-$100. Rams sold to $65.

Lack of live export demand drops Muchea lambs $5

In WA at the Muchea saleyards, the agents yarded 8500 lambs, 3092 more than last week, and 8000 sheep, 4574 more.

The NLRS said quality was plain across the yarding with most of the lambs again lighter weight secondary drafts. All buyers were present but there was no live export activity. This affected lamb sales, with most prices slipping by more than $5.

Light store lambs to restockers sold firm at $25-$65. Light lamb to air freight processors and feeders slipped close to $5, to $60-$98. The trade lambs were generally secondary drafts that made $85-$115, close to $5 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $100-$119, with most sales back around $7.

Mutton prices started easier but improved in later sales, to finish firm to slightly dearer. Wether and ram prices were solid, though marginally easier than last week. There were some good medium and heavy weight ewe drafts, but were of lighter condition. Ewe prices finished on a high note after being cheaper earlier in the sale.

Light weight ewe drafts made $35-$62, with the 2 score mutton to processors making $55-$78. Better conditioned drafts, including the heavy weight supplies, sold from $64-$87, to be firm at close to 290c/kg cwt. Wether prices were marginally easier without live export activity. Export weight wether drafts to restockers and processors made $70-$98 and were slightly easier. Lighter weight and store categories sold from $55-$80, also back $5. Rams remained firm, with ram lambs selling from $60-$85. Young drafts to processors and export feeders made $30-$69 while old rams to processors sold from $20-$55.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -