Saleyard lamb prices lift $20 as wet weather disrupts supplies

Terry Sim, October 10, 2022

SALEYARD lamb prices have jumped by up to $20 in New South Wales as processors compete to supplement supplies disrupted by recent rainfall and before further falls later this week.

Despite flooding in the Dubbo region, district producers who rallied to get lambs to the city’s weekly sale today were rewarded by a general lift in prices of up to $20.

Dubbo Stock and Station Agents Association president Martin Simmons said the sale surprisingly went ahead with plenty of numbers – drawing for 14,000 lambs and 4000 sheep.

“To be honest I think would have been only short a couple of thousand lambs and everything else would have been there.

“I think it’s a genuine sign of the times; I think we’ve been pushed back so far in the season that it’s more of a sign of probably desperation of wanting them sold,” he said.

He said in the past producers would have decided to leave their lambs for another week rather than fight the conditions.

“I guess the fact that we’re already six and seven weeks behind, because every week it seems to be wet, I think anyway where they thought there was a possibility, they just pressed on and made sure of it.

“It was big surprise, I was expecting half the numbers and we genuinely nearly had a full complement,” he said.

“The upside is we had a lot of buyer support and I think that helped our market on the back of it obviously being so wet.

“Any abattoir that did have lambs booked in direct that all of a sudden won’t appear over the next couple of days because of the wet played into our hands as well,” Mr Simmons said.

“In general, you could have quoted the market $20 dearer rights through for the lambs.

“I don’t think there was a lot of movement in the mutton market, but certainly a lot of response in the world, for sure.”

Wagga trade lambs also up $10-$20

The Dubbo price lift was preceded by prices rising by up to $20-plus for heavy young lambs and by $10-$20 to $170-$208 for 21-24kg young lambs at the Wagga Wagga sale last Thursday.

The National Livestock Reporting Service said quality was very good at Wagga with a lot more weight in the offering. A large gallery of buyers attended, although some major export processors were selective and were prepared to bid strongly for shorter skinned old lambs.

The NLRS said there were significant price spikes in the trade market, with rain the market driver. Merino trade lambs sold from $135-$195. Light lambs back to the paddock made $80-$146. Ballarat agents stepped up into more weight paying $171-$197 for restockers.

Young lambs 26-30kg made $214-$248 and lambs over 30kg sold from $230-$269 with most averaging close to 800ckg cwt. Old lambs over 30kg cwt sold from $233-$298.

Wagga’s mixed quality yarding of sheep sold $5-$10 dearer. Trade sheep sold from 470-530c/kg cwt and heavy mutton from 424-440c/kg cwt. Heavy crossbred ewes sold to $180.

Wilks & McKean auctioneer Joe Wilks said it will be a different story with big lamb numbers hitting saleyards when as dry weather returns across the state.

“It’s purely a numbers game at the moment there were loads that cannot get out that were booked direct to abattoirs.

“I think it will last a couple of weeks, but I do think that the week it does dry up that will be the week that everything will change dramatically, everyone will just go hammer and tong,” he said.

“Our southern buyers at Wagga, I haven’t seen them buy as many or be as strong for such a long time, so it must be pretty wet down south and they just know that nowhere is yarding numbers.

“Usually if Wagga’s not yarding numbers they would be able to get them at Forbes or wherever, but nowhere is yarding numbers.”

He said some of his old lamb clients had lambs making $30-$35 more than the previous week. His normal advice is to shear any woolly old lambs.

“But it didn’t matter what they were on Thursday, as long as they had the weight they were just into them.”

Nutrien agent at Wagga Jarrod Slattery said several processors have had problems trucking lambs out of properties direct to works and that has created demand for numbers in the saleyard.

“There were lambs making 720-730c/kg up to 800-820c/kg,” he said.

“It is probably an ongoing thing for the next 7-10 days.

“The minute we get sunshine and dry weather there will be a lot of lambs on the market.”

At Hamilton in Victoria, SGL auctioneer Bernie Grant said weather conditions up north had helped lamb prices lift $10-$20 over the past two weeks, including for old lambs, but the sheep market had not changed.

“Just looking at the weather pattern up north, you would think it will hold up for at least another couple of weeks like this and then we’ll see what the flush is like up north.

Mr Grant said the weather has delayed his clients’ lamb marketing by 1-2 weeks.

“We’ve only really got three weeks in December to sell lambs, so we are not going to see any decent numbers until late November, so it’s going to be a tight period.”


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