LAMB prices continued to weaken in saleyards across the nation this week, dragged back by increased yardings, direct consignments and declining quality as conditions get drier.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said more new season lambs were being yarded with drier skins affected by seed contamination.
Only the heavier of the light new season lambs, up to 18kg cwt, sold at 600c/kg or better early this week, with the lighter lines often making less than 400c/kg.
New season trade weight lambs made 411-574c/kg and the export weight lines sold from 430-530c/kg, with most making less than 500c/kg.
Victoria’s public holiday on Friday and the New South Wales break on Monday cut the number of centres selling, but most that sold over the two days yarded more lambs than the previous week.
The various factors meant the increased numbers of restockers and discerning trade buyers all paid less for their lambs. Restockers from Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales were active at Bendigo this week.
NLRS indicators fall further
The NLRS did not quote trends for the Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs this week, but most categories fell, building to weekly falls of 25-40 cents.
After Tuesday’s saleyards sales, the lamb ESDIs and their weekly changes were: restocker 535c/kg, down 38 cents; Merino 445c/.kg, down 25c; light 477c/kg, down 33c; trade 500c/kg, down 37c; heavy 484c/kg, down 40c. The national trade lamb indicator closed on 494c/kg and the heavy indice is on 482c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton finished on 308c/kg, representing a 38-cent fall in the past seven days, and the national indicator is on 302c/kg.
Over-the hook rates pulled back
In New South Wales, the NLRS said over-the-hook sheep and lamb indicators slipped this week. The public holiday on Friday in Victoria and the public holiday on Monday in NSW has affected supply.
NSW’s 2-4 score OTH lamb rates are: 18-20kg, 470-490c/kg, down 13c; 20-22kg, 500-590c/kg, down 13c; 22-24kg, 500-570c/kg, down 14c; 24-26kg, 490-560c/kg, down 20c; Merinos 16-22kgm 400-530c/kg, down 23c.
NSW’s OTH sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 230-310c/kg, down 3c; 18-24kg, 270-350c/kg, down 13c; 24kg+, 220-360c/kg, down 26c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said lamb over-the-hook indicators continued to edge lower week-on-week, with trade weight lambs averaging 525c/kg cwt. The rates for 2-04 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 520-530c/kg, down 10-13c; 24-26kg, 490-530c/kg, down 10c; 26kg+, 490c/kg, down 20c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, no change.
Victoria’s mutton indicators were back an average of 10-13c/kg cwt this week. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-330c/kg, down 13c; 18-24kg, 300-360c/kg, down 10c; 24kg+, 270-350c/kg, down 13c.
In South Australia, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the-hook indicators eased an average of 7c/kg cwt week-on-week. The rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 480c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 480-530c/kg, down 7c; 24-26kg+, 480-490c/kg, down 7c; Merinos 16-22kg, 430-450c/kg, nc.
South Australia’s mutton indicators declined to a greater extent, with medium weight mutton averaging 290c/kg cwt. The rates for 2-4 score sheep are: 14-18kg, 220-320c/kg, down 24c; 18-24kg, 240-360c/kg, down 23c; 24kg+, 200-340c/kg, down 23c.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook rates as falling 60-70 cents this week. The 2-4 score lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 480-520c/kg, down 60c; 16-18kg, 480-520c/kg, down 70c; 18-26kg, 500-520c/kg, down 60-65c.
Tasmania’s OTH mutton rates were quoted firm to lower. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 310-330c/kg, down 15c; 14-24kg, 320-340c/kg, firm to down 20c; 24kg+, 320-330c/kg, down 30c.
Western Australia’s OTH rates were not available when this report was published.
Forbes restocker demand strong
In New South Wales at the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,550 lambs, 3214 more than last week, and 8140 sheep, 2592 more.
The NLRS said just under 15,000 new season lambs were penned and quality was very mixed. There were a few well-conditioned pens, but more lambs showed signs of dryness. The usual buyers were active, along with strong competition from restockers, and the market trended cheaper overall.
Sales of new season lambs to restockers remained strong at $66-$111. Light lambs slipped $8 to $85-$103. Trade weights were $6-$8 easier at $107-$128. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were $7-$10 cheaper. Heavy lambs sold from $124-$139 and extra heavy weight lines from $133-$140. Carcase prices ranged from 486-528c/kg.
Old season light lambs sold from $82-$98. Trade weights made $101-$118. Heavy lambs ranged from $120-$132, with the few extra heavy pens making $139.
Most of the sheep were mixed quality Merinos. Prices slipped, with Merino ewes selling from $68-$96. Crossbred ewes sold from $72-$112. Merino wethers made $73-$100.
Deniliquin lambs sell $12-$20 lower
In the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6831 lambs, 860 fewer than last week, and 3178 sheep, 520 more.
The NLRS said 6243 young lambs were yarded, with quality a little plainer again as more start to show dryness and seed. Some processing orders were absent and the sale showed a much weaker trend in comparison to a fortnight ago and against more recent lamb markets.
Agents passed a few pens in and most that sold were at levels $12-$20 below the last sale held on September 22. The market reached a top of $126 for heavy young lambs estimated to weigh around 28kg cwt. The supply of heavy young lambs was limited, but demand was soft and only a handful of pens sold above $120. Most of the young lambs were 20-24kg cwt trade weights that mostly made $96-$118, or around 455-460c/kg cwt based on $7-$8 skins. Store lambs to restockers were also cheaper, with agents from Shepparton and the Bendigo area able to access more weight and size at $90-$105. Smaller and lighter store lambs held their value the best. There was only a token offering of 588 old season lambs which were discounted.
All weights and grades of sheep also sold weaker. Prices reached a top of $94.60 for heavy Merino ewes in a skin estimated at $25. Sales over $80 a head were limited, with most ewes selling from $50-$74 and light sheep down as low as $19. The better quality trade mutton was estimated at 220-270c/kg cwt.
Bendigo lambs cheaper to restockers and trade
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 27,763 lambs, 5454 more than last week, and 9160 sheep, 2508 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said it was Bendigo’s biggest lamb yarding yet this spring. Quality was plainer, with more drier-skinned light weight young lambs. For such a big yard, the selection of quality trade and export slaughter lambs was limited. The market was erratic and opened cheaper, before gaining momentum. Slaughter lambs over 20kg cwt sold $4-$7 cheaper, while lighter lambs to processors and restockers were mostly $6-$12 easier compared to the strong results of a week ago. The market reached a top of $146 for export young lambs estimated to weigh about 27kg cwt.
The supply of old lambs continues to dwindle and they were discounted, with only a few processors operating on them. There were only a few pens of heavy export young lambs over 26kg cwt, with just four sales above $140, to a top of $146. About 20 pens of heavy trade lambs made $130-$136. The general run of trade weight lambs sold from $114-$125, or 480-500c/kg cwt. However, the market was erratic, with higher and lower sales recorded. Restockers from Ballarat paid $106-$125 for bigger store lambs, with most sales to the paddock from $70-$90. Restocking orders came from Ballarat, Shepparton, Birchip, Horsham, Finley in NSW, Wodonga, Tasmania and the local Bendigo area.
The line-up of old lambs comprised mostly odd pen lots that made $69-$98, with only a few sales of better trade types to $110.
Not all buyers were active on the sheep. Extra heavy mutton was severely discounted by $20-$30, with ewes carrying excess fat the most affected. Pens of extra heavy crossbred ewes sold from $61-$80. The market reached a top of $91 for heavy Merino ewes in a big skin. Processor demand for leaner trade sheep was more robust, but they still averaged cheaper than a week ago. The better quality trade mutton made an estimated 280-320c/kg cwt.
Ballarat lambs up to $10 easier
In Ballarat on Tuesday, the agents yarded 14,516 lambs, 4846 more than last week, and 9088 sheep, 4491 more.
The NLRS said young lamb numbers increased and quality was average to good, with reasonable numbers of trade weight and heavy lambs. The usual buyers operated in a cheaper market with lambs generally selling from $2-$8 and up to $10 easier.
Large numbers of lighter lambs were penned suiting restocker, feeder and processor orders. Restockers and feeders paid mostly from $81- $109 for light trade lambs and from $58-$73 for lighter lots.
There were a few more old lambs yarded this week and they sold mostly from $95-$125.60 for the heavier lots and from $70-$99 for medium weights. Heavy hoggets sold to $106.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $76-$85. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $76-$115, or around 500c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $108-$122. Heavier lots made $120-$137, or 470-530c/kg to average around 500c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $126-$146.
All weights and grades of sheep were offered. Heavy crossbred sheep sold easier by up to $10, with Merino sheep least affected and selling close to firm. Merino wethers sold $4-$7 easier. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $38-$65. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $46-$87, or 210-340c/kg cwt, with Merino averaging around 320c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $55-$90, with heavy Merinos making 320-330c/kg. Restockers paid $70-$80 for crossbred ewes.
Restockers lift Dublin lamb prices
At the South Australia Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,673 lambs, 872 fewer than last week, and 3512 sheep, 369 more.
The NLRS said the crossbred and Merino lambs sold to solid bidding from a full complement of trade and processor buyers, including limited domestic input. Many lambs were starting to display dryness and seed contamination. However, the lambs yarded were keenly sought by trade buyers and a large contingent of agents vied for the well-bred crossbreds at slightly dearer prices. New season Merino lambs were more plentiful and strong restocker interest, especially on shorn lambs, ensured prices lifted.
Light weight 3 score crossbred lambs to feeders lifted a marginal $1, to $74-$96. Heavier 3 score lambs sold to feeders for $85-$102. Light weight 3 score lambs sold to trade buyers for $90-$104 to average 474c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $2 to $110-$119, or 506c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted only marginally to $111-$134, averaging 494c/kg. The few heavy weights lifted $4 to $125-$140, to average 503c/kg. Light weight Merino lambs sold to feeders and restockers for $49-$70. Processors paid $72 to $90 for light weight Merinos and to $105, or 450c/kg, for trade weights.
Prices for old lambs remain solid. Heavy weight crossbreds sold from $90-$120 and heavy weight Merinos made $101-$119. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $85-$124 and the equivalent crossbreds $80-$105.
The yarding of generally good quality sheep sold to easing competition from a smaller group of trade and processor buyers. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $58-$76 to average 268c/kg cwt and heavy weight 3 score ewes eased $7 to $60-$74, averaging 222c/kg. Heavy weight wethers sold unchanged at $83-$100, to average 337c/kg. Heavy weight rams made $50-$62.
Restockers active at Naracoorte
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,631 lambs, 2871 more than last week, and 2622 sheep, 236 more.
The NLRS said an extra processor joined the usual trade and processor buyers. A large number of restockers were active and provided strong competition for lighter weight new season lambs.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade for mainly $80-$98. Lighter weight trade 2 and 3 score types ranged from $90-$110. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold firm at $110-$121, or around 500c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs made $121-$137, back $6-$8, and extra heavy types sold to $140.
Restockers were active in several different categories. They paid from $66-$100 for light lambs and $99-$124 for trade weights. Old season lambs made $64-$104 and hoggets sold to $94.
All ewes sold up to $6 easier and most yarded were Merinos. Light weight types ranged from $44-$63 and medium weight 2 and 3 scores made $56-$72, or 290c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score ewes sold from $64-$89. Rams sold to $76.
Muchea restocker buy light lambs
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5500 lambs, 500 more than last week, and 6324 sheep, 2840 fewer.
The NLRS said the effect of the warming and dry conditions was evident in the smaller yarding. Most lambs were lighter weight new season drafts, with many showing dryness and a few pens carried light grass seed contamination
All buyers were present, but a lack of live export orders led to easing prices for wethers and most other categories as most processors have solid direct supplies. Restockers took advantage of the reduced competition to secure lighter lambs and suitable ewes in larger numbers.
Light store lambs to restockers sold firm at $21-$60. Prices slipped close to $5 for light lambs sold to air freight processors, restockers and feeders, with most sales at $55-$79. Trade weight young lambs were $2-$8 cheaper at $75-$104, or 400-450c/kg cwt. Heavier lambs sold from $107-$112, to remain close to firm. The small number of old lambs were mixed in quality. Most categories eased, with the trade drafts making $70-$90, or close to 400c/kg.
Ewe numbers reduced as did the quality, with more lighter conditioned and smaller frame drafts. Ewe prices were close to firm, with restockers active on suitable drafts. Light weight ewes made $35-$48 and 2 score medium weight lines sold to processors for $40-$63, or almost 225c/kg cwt. Heavy and better conditioned mutton sold from $45-$65 to be $2 cheaper.
Restockers purchased suitable mature drafts for $40-$69, with most around $5 easier. Ewe hoggets sold to a top of $82.50 for a well-grown draft suitable to join immediately.
Wether prices were mostly back $5 without live export orders. Export weight drafts made $78-$90, while a few with good skins made to $100. Lighter and store drafts made $63-$88 and were also back $5. Rams lacked strong competition and sold easier. Ram lambs sold to $77, with export feeders paying $30-$77 for suitable younger drafts. Old rams sold to processors for $5-$25.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.