Lamb and mutton prices rose in saleyards across Australia earlier this week, as export and domestic processors competed more openly against each other for declining offerings of quality stock.
Agents said processors were delving deeper into available lamb supplies, were more prepared to take older lambs with finish and in many markets out-competed restockers on killable lambs.
Ballarat agent from TB White and Sons Gerard White said exporters were sourcing heavy lambs wherever they could because weight was limited in the lambs coming through.
In another indication of the quickly finishing season and the early turn-off of lambs, the NLRS said Hamilton yarded 227,000 lambs in November, compared to the 80,000 agents offered in the same month last year.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator closed after Tuesday’s sales at 504c/kg, up 11 c/kg on Monday, and 34 cents ahead of the rate a week ago. The Merino lamb indicator at 449c/kg cwt, is 17 cents up on the day before and 65 cents higher week-on-week. The other ES lamb indicators are: restocker 489c/kg, up 6c; light 470c/kg, up 9c; heavy 503c/kg, up 9c. The ES mutton indicator is at 306c/kg, up 5 cents.
The national trade lamb indicator is at 505c/kg, up 11 cents on Monday and the heavy indice is at 504c/kg, up 9 cents. The national mutton indicator is at 306c/kg, up 5 cents.
Saleyard rates mostly ahead of grids
Most processors also lifted their grid levels for lambs and sheep this week, but many abattoir lamb rates were still lagging behind carcase weight prices being paid in saleyards, which moved well over and up to 570c/kg for a domestic order at Ballarat.
In SA at Naracoorte, sheep prices reach 350c/kg, illustrating the strength of mutton demand when supplies are tight.
NSW OTH rates lift
The NLRS said OTH lamb rates in NSW continued to increase this week, as many contributors try to secure good quality lambs before Christmas. Mutton rates lifted slightly, with medium and heavy weights now topping at 320¢/kg cwt.
NSW’s average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 484c/kg cwt, up 12 cents; 20-24kg, 488c/kg, up 12-17c; 24-26kg, 487c/kg, up 19c; 26kg+, 482c/kg, up 26c; Merinos 16-22kg, 424c/kg, up 12c. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 248c/kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 286c/kg, up 9c; 24kg+, 287c/kg, up 2c.
Vic OTH rates steady
The NLRS said OTH lamb rates in Victoria remained steady week-on-week, with contributors reporting very little change in the market. Mutton rates lifted marginally, with medium weight carcases averaging 262c/kg cwt.
Victoria’s average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 455c/kg, no change; 18-20kg, 460c/kg, nc; 20-22 kg, 468c/kg, nc; 22-24kg, 473c/kg, nc; 24-26kg, 460c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 450c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 405c/kg, nc. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 243c/kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 262c/kg, up 2c; 24kg+, 245c/kg, up 3c.
SA trade and heavy lamb OTH rates up 13c/kg
The NLRS said over-the-hook lamb prices lifted in all categories in SA this week, with trade and heavy weight carcases an average of 13c/kg dearer. Mutton rates remained unchanged week-on-week.
SA’s average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 500c/kg, up 20c; 18-24kg, 497c/kg, up 13c; 24-26kg, 483c/kg, up 13c; Merinos 16-22kg, 460c/kg, up 20c. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 208c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 275c/kg, nc.
WA OTH lamb rates lift, mutton unchanged
In WA, the NLRS said OTH lamb rates increased, but mutton prices were unchanged.
WA’s average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 430c/kg, up 5c; 18-22kg, 457c/kg, up 17c; 24-26kg, 470c/kg, up 25c; 26kg+, 447c/kg, up 13c; Merinos 16-22kg, 393c/kg, nc. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 235c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 250c/kg, nc.
Tasmania’s OTH sheep and lamb rates firm
The NLRS quoted Tasmania’s grid prices for sheep and lambs as unchanged. The state’s average rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 450c/kg; 16-18kg, 460c/kg; 18-20kg, 480c/kg; 20-26kg, 475c/kg; 26kg+, 470c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 270c/kg; 14-24kg, 280c/kg.
Crossbred trade and heavy lambs $7-$10 dearer at Dubbo
In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 12,310 lambs, 2190 fewer than last week, and 9375 sheep, 775 less.
The NLRS said the very mixed yarding had a few good pens of heavy weight lambs and only limited numbers of ideal trade weights. White Dorper and Merino lambs, and hoggets were well-represented. All the regular buyers operated.
Lightweight lambs were $2 dearer with 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $50-$84. Trade weight lambs were up to $9 dearer with the 18-22kg new season lambs selling from $79-$120 to average around 500c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $7-$10 dearer with the over 22kg old lambs selling from $111-$160. Merino lambs were $4-$6 dearer with the trade weights selling from $75-$102. Restockers paid to $90 and hoggets sold to $96.
The market was solid for the mixed yarding of mutton with most grades $7-$9 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $40-$66, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $52-$101 for Merinos and $93 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $68-$108 to average 325c/kg cwt.
Quality lambs $3-$6 dearer at Tamworth
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2770 lambs, 995 more than last week, and 1240 sheep, 945 less.
The NLRS said the quality of the lamb offering was fair to good with more young lambs than old. There was a good supply of well-finished lambs along with a few pens of plainer condition well-bred young lambs. The usual trade and export orders were in place and there was increased restocker competition. The best of the young lambs presented with more weight than the previous week, but the old and shorn lambs were lighter.
All lamb classes sold to dearer trends. Well-bred young lambs to restockers made strong gains as recent price improvements and rain forecasts increased confidence.
Well-finished trade and export weight lambs sold $3-$6 dearer and more in places with quality variations also having an effect on some price changes.
The reduced supply of sheep had a positive effect on the market with trends dearer through all classes.
Old trade lambs up $9-$10 at Forbes
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 16,500 lambs, 3850 more than last week, and 7850 sheep, 450 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved from the previous sale, with more well-finished lambs on offer. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were well-supplied. The usual buyers competing, along with restockers, in a dearer market.
New season lambs to restockers sold from $53-$97. Light lambs lifted $4, selling from $95-$102. Trade weight lambs were $5 better, with prices ranging from $110-$118. Heavy and extra heavy weights were $4-$6 dearer to receive from $120-$125. Old trade weight lambs lifted $9-$10 to range in price from $93-$114. A quality run of heavy and extra heavy lambs lifted $5-$10. Heavy lambs sold from $115-$133 and extra heavy weights from $124-$164. Carcase prices averaged from 485c/kg- 515c/kg cwt.
Mutton quality also improved slightly, with more heavier sheep offered. Prices lifted $8-$10. Merino ewes sold from $73-$109. Crossbred ewes ranged in price from $68-$95. Merino wethers sold from $76-$108.
Hamilton’s extra heavy lambs sell $6-$10 dearer
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 18,018 lambs, 16214 than the previous Monday sale.
The NLRS said quality was again good, with all weight ranges represented, although lambs are starting to show more dryness in their skins. All the usual buyers competed, but there was less restocker activity than previous weeks. Overall this did not affect prices, however, with the upward trend continuing on the lambs.
Local store buyers purchased lambs, along with those from Bendigo, Naracoorte, Nhill, Horsham, Penola and southern NSW. Light lambs were firm to $3 dearer, as the medium trade 2 and 3 score and heavy 4 score lambs sold $4-$6 dearer, while the extra heavy lambs ranged $6-$10 dearer in places. Light 1 and 2 score lambs made $47-$85, while light trade 2 and 3 scores sold from $81-$100, making 420c/kg-460c/kg cwt. Medium trade 3 and 4 scores made from $96-$129 and the heavy trade weights from $124-$142, with the price varying from 480c/kg-515c/kg cwt to average around 500c/kg cwt. Heavy export lambs sold from $142-$153, ranging from 510c/kg-530c/kg cwt to average an estimated 520c/kg cwt.
Top lambs $6–$16 dearer at Bendigo
At the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 14,840 lambs, 820 fewer than last week, and 6239 sheep, 3508 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved on last week, with more first draft young lambs from southern grazing areas. There were also some well-presented recently shorn lambs. Bidding from meat buyers on the top drafts of slaughter lambs was the most competitive the centre has seen recently and all lambs were dearer by about $6-$16. The best quality lambs displaying weight and finish experienced the biggest price gains, with bidding not as intense on the plainer bred and secondary pens. The market reached a top of $156.20 for a pen of shorn young lambs finished on bean stubbles that were estimated at 30kg cwt. It was one of three pens of heavy export lambs to sell for more than $150.
Processors dominated bidding on lighter weight lambs this week, with most selling from $75-$90 in a dearer result. A feature run of young Merino ewe lambs from the Riverina sold from $85-$112 to local north-east restockers at close to 500c/kg cwt. Well-bred pens of young shorn lambs received strong support, with a feedlot order also operating.
The lead runs of young slaughter lambs generally sold from $118-$135, with only limited sales above $140. Buyers were more selective on the plainer and drier skinned domestic lambs at $95-$115 for most. On a carcase weight basis the best slaughter lambs sold in an estimated range of 490c/kg-530c/kg cwt, with odd sales higher.
The sheep market was dearer, with a stand-out pen of extra heavy Merino wethers topping at $105.20. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $82-$96, with the general run of medium ewes at $60-$80. The good quality sheep averaged over 300c/kg cwt.
Ballarat lambs make up to 570c/kg cwt
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 42,661 lambs, 3101 more than last week, and 15914 sheep, 4190 more.
The NLRS said there was a little more weight in the heavy lambs this week and competition was very strong. Most quality lambs sold generally from $5-$10 dearer and more on some selected lots. Some of the best of the trade weight domestic lambs sold to 570c/kg cwt. There were large numbers of lighter lambs suitable for both processors and restockers and they sold to keen competition, with restocking lambs selling from $73-$99 to be a few dollars dearer, while lighter lots sold from $26-$68.
Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $62-$84. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $74-$105 and the heavier lots sold from $95-$120. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $102-$134 and the heavier lots sold from $116-$142, making from 450c/kg-570c/kg to average around 510c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $132-$159 to average around 510c/kg-520c/kg cwt. Heavy hoggets sold from $85-$101.
Some extra competition operated on the sheep and they also sold to a dearer trend to be from firm to $5 up on last week. Some big runs of the Merino sheep were nearly full wool, with high skin prices keeping levels up. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $33-$73, with very light 1 scores selling from $34-$55. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $49-$92, and they ranged from 250c/kg-340c/kg cwt to average around 300c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $67-$97, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $75-$99 and the medium weights selling from $57-$86, to average around 300c/kg cwt.
Best trade lambs lift up to $10 at Dublin
At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4728 lambs, 1942 fewer than last week, and 3148 sheep, 248 less.
The NLRS said the generally plainer quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to strong competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. Many light weight crossbreds were yarded and feeder buyers from the Yorke Peninsula secured numbers at dearer prices.
Light weight 2 score crossbreds to feeders lifted $5 selling from $65-$89, while light weight 3 scores lifted $11 at $82-$105. Light weight 3 score crossbreds to trade buyers sold from $102-$110, averaging 526c/kg cwt. Merino lambs were limited, and light weights to restockers sold to $70, while trade weights to processors lifted $12, selling from $90-$104. Heavier trade weight Merinos sold at $110 to average 486c/kg cwt. Lighter trade weight 4 scores were scarce, and sold from $110-$118 and averaged 517c/kg cwt, while heavier trade weights lifted $10, to make $120-$144, averaging 535c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 4 scores lifted $10, selling from $130-$145, to average 524c/kg cwt, while extra heavy weights sold up to $162.
Hoggets were in demand, as heavy weight Merinos lifted $15, selling from $80-$115 and crossbreds lifted $9 and made $93-$103.
The smaller generally good quality sheep yarding sold to solid bidding from local and interstate processors. Light weight 2 score ewes lifted $4, selling from $50-$72, averaging 252c/kg cwt, while heavy weight 3 score ewes eased marginally and sold from $60-$86, to average 258c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers attracted stronger bidding, selling from $78-$105, to average 268c/kg cwt. Heavy weight rams returned vendors $42-$72.
Sheep prices reach 350c/kg cwt at Naracoorte
In SA at the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3416 lambs, 4929 fewer than last week, and 2264 sheep, 1085 less.
The NLRS said the usual trade and processors attended along with a small number of restockers. Very few heavy lambs came forward, with the bulk of the yarding being light weight trade lambs. The market sold to a general dearer trend.
A large number of very light lambs were offered and these sold from $30-$58, while light lambs ranged from $62-$90, with the light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs returning from $75 to a high of $102. Restockers were active from $30-$87 and paid up to $5 more than last week. Medium weighted trade 3 score lambs ranged from $95-$120 to average 500c/kg cwt. Only a few heavy lambs came forward and these ranged from $110-$138 to average 490c/kg cwt.
The small number of sheep averaged 350c/kg cwt. Light weight 1 and 2 score ewes sold from $24-$57, while the medium weighted ewes ranged from $56-$95, with the heavy weight 4 and 5 score ewes returning from $90 to a high of $100. The few wethers offered made $96 while the bulk of the rams ranged from $28-$41.
Muchea lamb and sheep prices firm to dearer
In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8782 lambs, 4457 more than last week, and 7500 sheep, 3400 more.
The NLRS said strong prices last week, harvest coming to a close and storms across the regions led to numbers nearly doubling this week. Quality across the yarding was much better, with good supplies of prime trade lambs and solid numbers of well-conditioned ewes. All buyers were active, with prices for most categories were firm. Prime trade and heavy lambs eased slightly from the numbers-driven highs seen in recent weeks, but still averaged close to 500c/kg cwt. Lighter weight and store lamb drafts were firm to slightly dearer with restockers, live exporters and feeders all competing to secure numbers.
Light and store lambs to restockers were lighter on average and made $35-$75, marginally dearer than last week. Light lamb to processors, feed and live export sold from $60-$95, with prices firm to $3 dearer. Trade lambs made $90-$117, back on last week but averaging close to 500c/kg cwt, with heavy lambs selling to a top of $123.50 to average 490c/kg cwt.
Ewe prices eased slightly for those going to processors, with lighter weight drafts from $35-$50. The 2 score mutton sold between $40-$78 to average $3 cheaper and 3 and 4 score ewes, including heavy weight drafts that made $60-$83.50, or 285c/kg cwt, and were $4 cheaper. Light ewes to restockers made $42-$60 with better ewes to restockers making $62-$94. Ewe hoggets made $45-$88 and were similar to recent sales. Wether prices were lifted by strong live export activity. Heavy weight wethers sold from $80-$95 to be $3 dearer, while the lighter drafts to live export lifted $4 and made $68-$87. Store wether drafts sold from $45-$70, with most sales firm to $2 dearer. Ram prices remained well supported with ram lambs to $90. Younger ram drafts to live export and feeders sold firm at $30-$69, with the old rams to processors from $10-$45.
HAVE YOUR SAY