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Saleyard lamb price surge yields $292 national record at Tamworth

Terry Sim, July 25, 2018

Stuart Steiger with his $292 lambs at Tamworth.

LAMB prices leapt higher in eastern states saleyards this week, with a new national record of $292 at Tamworth and centre records at Dubbo, Bendigo, Dublin and Ballarat for extra heavy weight lambs.

On Monday, Griffith’s national record of $284 last Friday was beaten twice with the $292 at Tamworth and Dubbo’s new centre record of $286.20. Heavy Merino lambs at Griffith also sold from $199 to $252, to set a new Australian record for Merinos.

The latest price movements followed Wagga Wagga’s national record of $281.20 for crossbred lambs last Thursday, held only for a day before the Griffith sale.

However, more significant for producers generally was the firming this week of carcase weight prices at 800c/kg-plus for crossbred new season trade weight lambs, and for the quality trade weight and lighter export weight old lamb lines. Most other slaughter lambs are selling for 650-700c/kg-plus depending on quality and weight, and restocker lambs at times have been selling to extreme levels up to 1000c/kg.

The eastern states’ price movements are in stark contrast to saleyard rates in Western Australia, where lamb prices are running at least 100-200c/kg behind.

The Eastern States Daily Indicator for heavy lambs hit 800c/kg for the first time on Friday last week and continued to rise this week, reaching 835c/kg yesterday. The trade lamb indicator rose from 762c/kg on Friday to hit 795c/kg yesterday. The Merino lamb indicator also continued to increase, lifting 23 cents from 678c/kg on Friday to 701c/kg yesterday.

Tamworth takes national record off Dubbo on same day

Tamworth agent, Ben Goodman, left, with Stewart Steiger and the $292 record-breaking lambs.

At the Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange on Monday, Ian Morgan Livestock auctioneer Ben Goodman extracted a new national record of $292 from Fletcher International Exports for the Steiger family’s 28 tail-end White Suffolk cross lambs. The 10.5-11 month-old lambs had an estimated carcase weight of 38-40kg with a $6-$8 December shorn skin, giving a carcase weight price around 750c/kg. The Steigers also sold another 22 of the lambs out of first cross ewes for $280.

The Steiger’s prices beat the family’s previous local record of $253 set on June 25. Stewart, son Mitch and brother Phillip watched the sale. There lambs this year sold from $180-$292, averaging around $220.

“I didn’t think it would go like that today; we were just lucky we struck a good sale, I think,” Stewart Steiger said.

“It was a pleasant surprise in drought, to get that in a dry time.

“I wish I had another truck load for next week.”

Mr Steiger said recent months had been “pretty tough going”.

“The feed bill at the moment’s not too pretty,” he said.

“But every drought’s been broken by rain, so it’ll come – sooner rather than later, I hope.”

The Steiger’s run their sheep within a largely beef breeding and feedlotting operation. The lambs were finished on a struggling Drover oat crop in March after 18mm of rain with MAP. The crop has had a few falls of 4-5mms of rain since, but Mr Steiger believed it was the 150kg/he of urea pre-sown into the seedbed in January, plus the water-saving benefits of direct drilling and a press wheel that kept the crop alive for the lambs.

Mr Goodman said the Steiger’s oat crop was the only one in the district. He said the price record could be beaten or buyers could soon decide the current rates were not viable and wind operations back.

“It hasn’t happened yet and it may continue if we start with an 800c/kg figure on the trade lambs, we may see it going forward.

“That will be the next step; that’s where it is going to go to, we could be there next week.”

Mr Goodman said 18kg lambs had been making $145-$150 or around 800c/kg at Wagga, with the 22-24kg lambs were the dearer lambs at the moment.

Dubbo sets new centre record of $286.20

Dubbo agents Ross Plasto and Aaron O’Leary from Plasto and Company, with the record-priced $286.20 crossbred lambs.

At the Dubbo Livestock Exchange on Monday, a new lamb price record was set for the fourth week in a row.

A line of 211 Poll Dorset lambs was sold for $286.20 by Ross Plasto and Aaron O’Leary of Plasto and Company, for Adam and Natasha Whillock of ‘Haddington’, Wellington.

The lambs were estimated to weigh 44kg cwt and were bought by Thomas Foods International.

Mr Plasto has been a regular at the Dubbo saleyards since he was an infant.

“I have never seen prices even close to it.

“We are lucky that the market is kicking along,” Mr Whillock said.

“They were on the road and neighbours were saying ‘what are you doing, waiting for the market to drop’.”

A couple of years ago, the Whillock’s made and stored hay and grain, which they are now feeding out.

“These ones weren’t as good as what we would normally sell, but it’s a great price in a tough season.”

The Whillock’s run 1200 sheep on their property and source their rams from local breeders Les and Gillian Ryan, Gillmore Poll Dorset stud, Yeoval and the Kelly family, Marocara Poll Dorset stud, Wongarbon.

Dubbo’s Merino lambs $10-$12 dearer

At Dubbo the National Livestock Reporting Service said light weight lambs sold firm to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $63-$125. Trade lambs were up to $15 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores selling from $120-$210, to average 790-835c/kg. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $135-$202.

Heavy weight lambs were up to $20 dearer, with the 22-30kg 4 scores making $186-$269. Lambs over 30kg sold from $263-$286.20. Merino lambs were $10-$12 dearer, with trade weights making $110-$166. Restockers paid to $115 for young first cross ewe lambs.

Bendigo lambs sell to $278 as rates climb to 860-920c/kg

At Bendigo on Monday, the NLRS said extra heavy export lambs were limited to a few pens which sold from $260 to a new saleyard record for Bendigo of $278 to push carcase estimates over 800c/kg. Processor demand was strongest across the heavy and medium trade lamb categories.

The NLRS said domestic buyers pushed into heavier weights and the main runs of crossbred lambs in the 26-30kg cwt range sold from $221-$260. The 24-26kg cwt lambs made $220-$235, estimated to average 860c/kg, with the best pens up to 900c/kg. Prices lifted to average 880c/kg over the medium trade lambs, with the pick of the 20-22kg cwt lambs averaging nearly 920c/kg cwt.

Naracoorte lambs make to $235

At Naracoorte on Tuesday, the NLRS said after the extreme pricing of the previous week, prices again increased with several pens returning well over the 800c/kg mark, and some breaking 900c/kg cwt. This was despite the offering being very mixed with a wide range of weights and condition being on offer.

The first new season lambs, with restockers paying $55-$74 for the very light lines and the light trade and trade types making $122-$164.

Lightweight lambs sold to the trade sold for mainly $42-$132, with the light trade 2 and 3 score types making $128-$148. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $142-$205, with a pen of light trade lambs estimated at 20kg making $192, or an estimated 910c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $175-$200, up $15. Scarce extra heavy export weight lambs made $202-$235.

Dublin lambs hit centre record of $250

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb prices lifted $20-$30 to generate a new Dublin saleyards record $250.

Light new season and light older lambs sold generally firm, with restockers more active on the light weight young lambs. New season lambs lifted by up to $20, with light lines making $28-$106, medium weights selling for $90-$136, and the limited supply of heavier weights ranging from $96-$162.

Extremely light older lambs held firm, with only limited demand, to sell from $32 to $80, while light lambs gained $8-$10, selling from $54-$150. Light and medium trade lamb prices rose by up to $20, with light lines making $100-$188 and medium weights $156-$238. The heavy weights lifted by up to $25, to $198-$248. Extra heavy weight lamb prices rose by up to $30, to $234-$250.

Ballarat lambs sell for record $276

At Ballarat on Tuesday, the NLRS said after 15mm of rain overnight, heavy lambs sold up to $10-plus dearer and quality trade weight lines made $5-$10 more than last week.

Prices for light processing type lambs eased a few dollars in place. The best of the extra heavy lambs sold up to a new centre record price $276 and heavier trade weight lambs made $195-$225, averaging about 870c/kg. A pen of new season young lambs, estimated at 22/kg cwt sold for $170. Feeders and restockers paid $102-$155 and lighter 1 and 2 score lambs made $21-$65.

Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $84-$125. Light 2 and 3 score trade lambs made $126-$185, averaging around 830c/kg and up to 900c/kg. The 3 and 4 score trade weight lambs sold from $152-$200 and heavier weights made $195-$225, or 700-930c/kg, to average about 870c/kg.

Export 3 and 4 score lambs at Ballarat sold from $215-$264 to average about 850c/kg. The few pens of extra heavy export lambs sold from $262-$276.

Forbes lambs make to $280

At Forbes yesterday, the NLRS said the mostly trade weight lambs offered sold from $164-$234. Old trade weight lambs lifted $8-$14 to $140-$215. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were $15 dearer. with 23-26kg lines making $198-$245 and those over 26kg selling for $240-$280. Carcase prices averaged from 822-876c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $150-$213.

Tasmania’s best lambs sells to $204

In Tasmania yesterday, the NLRS said exporters bought light lambs for $79-$110, or 592-693c/kg. Restockers bought light lambs for $70-$115, or 508-743c/kg, and paid $115-$122, or 647-694c/kg, for light trade lines. Feeders bought forward lambs for $125-$140, or 626-648c/kg. Trade lambs made $130-$156, or 628-734c/kg. Heavy lambs sold for $155-$167, or 678-691c/kg, and extra heavy lambs made $166-$204, or 620-763c/kg.

Muchea heavy lambs peak at $158

At Muchea yesterday, the NLRS said light crossbred lambs to feeders made $32-$58, or 267-550c/kg, and medium weights sold firm at $75-$100, or 439-727c/kg. Air freight lambs made $88-$114, up $5. The 18-22kg trade lambs were $8 dearer at $120-$155, or 605-742c/kg. Heavy lambs sold firm at $152-$158, or 577-613c/kg. The best heavy ram lambs sold from $100-$150, up $10.

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