SLAUGHTER lamb prices improved further in most eastern states saleyards this week as cooler weather eased the turn-off in southern New South Wales and processors stocked up in expectation of sale disruptions around Easter.
With several exporters and domestic processors chasing light lambs, these recorded the biggest gains lifting by up to $8 at Dubbo in New South Wales and by $14 at Dublin in South Australia.
Trade and heavy lamb prices rose by $2-$8 across the various eastern states saleyards, depending on quality.
Elders NSW-Southern Riverina livestock manager Peter Cox said up until cooler weather came in across NSW recently, lot feeders had been turning off lambs in frustration at poor weight gains in the hot conditions.
“The cooler weather and a few storms has stopped that ‘let’s get them out of here’ mentality.”
He said believed the lamb supply was probably much shorter in northern NSW, more lambs have been put away in the south and contracts have given lot feeders and restockers confidence.
Victoria has had a short week due to the public holiday last week and with Easter coming, he expected the lamb market would be “OK” in coming weeks, Mr Cox said.
“The lift in numbers recently has been about the heat and lambs not doing in feedlots.
“Now that people can at least feed to a management plan without the heat and get a bit of value out of the weight gain – that affects the supply line for everybody.”
Mr Cox said some processors have been calling for lambs to supplement saleyard supplies this week.
“I think it is at least leaning back to the sellers’ favour at the moment, where a fortnight ago it was firmly in the buyers’ favour.”
Elders livestock manager Nigel Starick said the Bendigo lamb yarding almost doubled this week due to producers off-loading as they need to and because of the short weeks. Several export and domestic processors were chasing light lambs and restockers were strong on 14-15kg cwt store lambs, he said.
Mr Starick said the cooler weather has not tempered the lamb turn-off into Bendigo.
“The simple fact is it doesn’t rain feed – realistically we have only had 20-30 mm locally and it has done nothing.”
He said the three short weeks due to holidays had made it hard on processors seeking supplies which had helped firm up prices.
“There are probably not as many out there, but they are probably not needing as man over this three week period until we go back to five days.
“All our lambs are coming from within a 150 kilometre radius – we are not getting any southern lambs or northern runs.”
NLRS lamb indicators rising
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs were: restocker 527c/kg, down 6 cents; Merinos 483c/kg, up 7c; light 518c/kg, up 9c; trade 527c/kg, up 3c; heavy 519c/kg, up 3c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted 2 cents to 525c/kg and the heavy indice rose 3 cents to 519c/kg.
The ESDI and national mutton indicator rose 8 cents on Tuesday to close at 302c/kg.
NLRS OTH indicators higher in South Australia
The NLRS said New South Wales lamb and mutton over-the-hook indicators remain solid this week, with a push in demand expected this week due to two short trading weeks.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 460-520c/kg, up 2 cents; 20-24kg, 490-520c/kg, up 2c; 24-26kg+, 480-500c/kg, down 3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 390-470c/kg, no change. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 190-280c/kg, up 5c; 18-24kg, 240-300c/kg, up 7c; 24kg+, 260-300c/kg, up 7c.
In Victoria, the NLRS quoted light and trade weight lamb OTH indicators as easing slightly week-on-week, while heavy weight categories were firm. Mutton indicators were dearer across all categories.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 510-530c/kg, down 3 cents; 24-26kg, 490-510c/kg, no change; 26kg+, 490c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 460-520c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-280c/kg, up 10c; 18-24kg, 280-300c/kg, up 8c; 24kg+, 220-290c/kg, up 6c.
In South Australia, the NLRS quoted lamb and sheep over-the-hook indicators as higher this week, ahead of the Easter break. Trade weight lambs were up 13c/kg, to average 523c/kg cwt, and medium weight mutton averaged 5c/kg dearer, on 263c/kg cwt.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 520c/kg, up 20c; 18-24kg, 520-530c/kg, up 13c; 24-26kg, 490-520c/kg, up 13c; Merinos 16-22kg, 490c/kg, up 20c. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 210-300c/kg, up 10c; 18-24kg, 230-290c/kg, up 5c; 24kg+, 170-300c/kg, nc.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted light lamb OTH rates as 10-20c/kg higher, but heavier lambs were 15-20c/kg lower and mutton is unchanged.
Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-18kg, 510-540c/kg, up 10-20c; 18-24kg, 510-520c/kg, down 10c; 24-26kg, 510c/kg, down 15c; 26kg+, 500-510c/kg, down 20c. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg, nc; 14-24kg, 270-280c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 260-270c/kg, nc.
Western Australia’s over-the-hook rates were not available when this article was published.
Dubbo’s light lambs lift $8
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 20,450 lambs, 3720 more than last week, and 11,260 sheep, 820 more.
The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding, with a good number of heavy weight lambs and a pretty good selection of trade weights.
Light weight lambs sold $8 dearer to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $78-$107. Trade lambs were $4 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores making $90-$133, to average 520/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $7 dearer and extra heavy weights were $3 dearer. The over 22kg 4 scores sold from $120-$170.
Merino lambs were $2-$5 dearer, with the trade weights making $90-$118 and heavier lines selling to $140. Restockers paid to $118 for first cross ewe lambs and $105 for lambs to fatten. Hoggets sold to $121.
It was a mostly good quality yarding of sheep, with only a limited number of light weights. Plain conditioned light weight sheep sold $13 dearer and the heavy weights were firm to $3 dearer and more in places. The 2 score ewes sold from $22-$67. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds made $62-$108 and Merinos sold to $98. Properly finished woolly Merino wethers sold to $123.
Tamworth’s trade lambs lift $4-$8
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3300 lambs, 450 more than last week, and 2200 sheep, 690 more.
The NLRS said with no sale next week consignments lifted in both the sheep and lambs. The quality of the lamb penning was quite mixed. However, there were some very good quality trade and heavy weights. The usual buyers attended, but not all operated.
With two short weeks ahead demand for trade and export weight lambs lifted. Market trends were generally dearer and average quality improvements in some classes saw price changes lift significantly. Trade weight young lambs averaged $4 dearer.
The quality of the trade and heavy weight lambs contributed to some strong average price improvements on a market trend that was $4-$8 dearer. Weight variations also contributed.
The sheep penning consisted mostly medium and heavy weight sheep with crossbred ewes well represented. Market trends were also generally dearer throughout.
Forbes’s medium and heavy trade lambs lift $5
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,650 lambs, 395 more than last week, and 7500 sheep, 1319 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the heavy lambs was very good, but there some plainer lines. Most lambs were heavy weights and there some large drafts. Trade lamb supply was limited and there were fewer stores, but some good runs of Merino lambs. All the buyers were operating and competition was solid, resulting in a dearer market.
Light lambs sold to processors averaged $99, up $2, and store lambs mostly sold from $80-$100. Medium and heavy trade weight lambs were firm to $5 stronger at mainly 530-550c/kg. Most of the heavy trade weights sold from $125-$130. Heavy weight lambs were around $4 dearer and averaged from 480c-520c/kg. Quite a lot of pens of extra heavy lambs sold from $165-$185.
Sheep quality was generally very good. Medium Merino ewes were $5 dearer and averaged $72, or 295c/kg cwt. Heavy Merino ewes were up to $8 dearer and averaged $92, or 315c/kg. Heavy wethers in full wool averaged $118.
Bendigo’s trade lambs lift $2-$5
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 21,431 lambs, 10,444 more than the last sale two weeks ago, and 5765 sheep, 705 more.
The NLRS said the usual buyers operated keenly with no sale next Monday. Quality was average to good.
The extra heavy lambs sold to $174 and better covered domestic lambs made $122-$138, to average around 530c/kg cwt, $2-$5 up on the sale of two weeks ago. Restockers and feeders paid from $82-$106, with lighter lots making $34-$78. A pen of crossbred ewe lambs sold for $127.
The highlight of the sale was a pen of 12 heavy lambs donated to the Royal Children’s Hospital appeal that sold for $350 each four major meat companies.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $74-$92.50. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $91-$119.20 and averaged around 540c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $115-$125.60, with the heavier drafts making $122-$138, or 510-580c/kg, to mainly sell around 530-535c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $136-$160 and extra heavy export lambs made $165-$174 at around 490c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $111-$127, with the lighter drafts mostly making $84-$106.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades, but with not all the usual buyers operated. Sheep generally sold similar to the sale of two weeks ago, with Merino sheep in a big skin improving a few dollars. Heavy Merino ewes sold to $102. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $30-$69.60. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $48-$97.20, or 220-340c/kg, with Merino mutton averaging around 315c/kg.
Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $75-$107. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $92-$96 and the medium weights made $65-$89. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $83.50-$102. Restockers paid from $59.60-$82 for Merino wethers and from $70-$115 for crossbred ewes.
Ballarat’s heavy lambs sell $5 dearer
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 18, 434 lambs, 3505 fewer than last week, and 3738 sheep, 1943 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality ranged from average to very good with some plainer very light lambs. The usual buyers attended except for one domestic buyer. All buyers operated at times, creating an overall improvement in prices, with restockers, feeders and processors with specific Easter orders competing against each other.
Heavy lambs were $5 dearer, medium trade weights jumped $2-$3 and the light lambs lifted $3-$5. Very light store lambs sold from $36-$75 and better 2 and 3 score pens made $84-$114. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $75-$94. Light trade 2 and 3 scores sold from $92-$119 and averaged around 540c/kg cwt. Medium trade weight 3 scores sold from $104-$131, with heavier drafts making from $124-$143, or 486-570c/kg, averaging an estimated 540c/kg. Heavy trade lambs sold from $136-$165 with the extra heavy export lambs making $168-$185, averaging 510c/kg.
The sheep yarding included all weights and grades, but more light weights. Heavy sheep sold firm in the stronger sale, with some medium mutton $5-$10 dearer and light sheep $5-$7 higher. Very light 1 scores made $21-$59 and the light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $56-$73. Medium trade weights made $64-$89, or 279-331c/kg. Merino mutton averaged an estimated 320c/kg. Heavy 3-4 score sheep sold from $81-$108. Medium Merino wethers mostly made $68-$96, with a heavier pen reaching $104 to average around 335c/kg. Rams sold from $20-$77.
Dublin’s trade lambs rise up to $14
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6082 lambs, 1780 fewer than last week, and 1268 sheep, 155 less.
The NLRS said the very mixed quality crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger bidding from the usual local and interstate trade and processor buyers. Feeders and restockers operated on light weight lambs and prices remained on a par with recent weeks, with the exception of some light weight Merinos that attracted some animated bidding.
Light weight crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $62-$88, while trade buyers paid up to $14 more for light weight 3 score crossbreds at $108-$115, averaging 529c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 3 scores were scarce, lifting $8 to $$110-$120 and averaging 495c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted $9 to $126-$142, averaging 539c/kg. Heavy weights rose $5-$16 to $130-$165, or 521-544c/kg.
Light weight Merino lambs sold to feeders lifted up to $16 to $36-$61, while light weights sold to processors for $74-$100. Trade weights lifted $6 to $110-$138 to average 475c/kg. Heavy weight Merinos sold from $125-$142 to average 482c/kg.
Hoggets attracted strong bidding. Heavy weight Merinos sold from $100-$125, crossbreds made $112-$117 and Dorpers sold for $104-$118.
The mixed sheep yarding sold to strong competition from the usual processors. Restockers bought longer wool ewes from $98-$120. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $59-$70 to average 248c/kg. Heavy weight 3 score ewes lifted $10 to $79-$94 and averaged 290c/kg. Several large lines of Dorper ewes sold from $58-$77. Wethers were scarce. Heavy weights lifted $14 to $88-$115, averaging 353c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $82-$104.
Naracoorte lambs sell to $141
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 838 lambs, 494 fewer than last week, and 937 sheep, 496 more.
The NLRS said the usual small field of trade and processor buyers were active along with some restocker orders. Lamb quality was very mixed.
Light lambs sold from $76-$92 and light weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold to $96. Pens of light weight Merino lambs made $52-$97, with two pens of Merino ewe lambs selling to a restocker for $92. Restockers paid to $77. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $94-$115 or 480-500c/kg cwt. The few heavy 4 score lambs sold to $141.
The sheep market improved, with more competition between the regular buyers, lifting prices $2-$4. Light weight ewes made $52-$66 and medium weights sold from $77-$81, all averaging 310c/kg. Heavy sheep ranged from $80-$100. Wethers sold-$105 and rams ranged from $28-$67.
Muchea prices down on quality
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4498 lambs, 6367 fewer than last week, and 3101 lambs, 3131 less.
The NLRS said prices were generally down in all categories of the mixed quality yarding.
Light weight lambs sold from $23-$37, depending on condition. Trade weights made from $95-$110. Heavy lambs sold to $118. Lambs suitable for air freight sold for $56-$85. Light store crossbred lambs sold to restockers and feeders for $15 and the almost finished, bigger frame lambs made to $98. Light plain Merino store lambs sold from $15 and the better quality lines made up to $65.
Restockers paid from $10-$76 for young Merino ewes depending on quality. Young plain light wethers sold to restockers and feeders for $20 and good frame heavier lines made to $90.
Light ewes sold for $32. Light ewes with a fleece sold to slaughter for $41-$56 and the better 3 score mutton with wool made $54-$70. Very light store ewes sold to restockers for $10 and better quality ewes made to $60. Light plain wethers sold to restockers and feeders for $66 and quality lines made to $98. Young rams sold from $55-$81 and old rams made $5-$10.
Northern Tasmanian lambs $4-$8 cheaper
In Tasmania at the Powranna and Killafaddy saleyards on Tuesday the agents yarded 1350 lambs, 580 more than last week, and 950 sheep, 410 more.
Lambs generally sold $4-$8 cheaper. Restockers bought very light lambs for $45-$72, and light and light trade weights for $60-$103. Trade lambs made $100-$120, heavy weights sold from $118-$134 and extra heavy lambs made $131-$135. There was limited competition across all ranges due to the short working weeks.
There was extra competition on all lines of mutton and most sheep prices improved $2-$4. Very light sheep made $35-$47, light weights sold from $47-$60, medium weights sold for $56-$77 and heavy weights $71-$76.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.