SLAUGHTER lamb prices generally fell early this week as saleyard offerings increased in New South Wales and South Australia, but declined further in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Prices improved for quality light, trade and heavy lambs at Dubbo on Monday, but demand generally weakened at many centres as processor winter closures continued, driving industry indicators down.
Early new season lambs are coming into more markets, but in very small numbers – at Tamworth and Forbes in NSW, the South Australian Livestock Exchange and at Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria.
Over-the-hook rates for lambs were unchanged to higher in most states, reflecting continuing demand for direct supplies from processors.
The National Livestock Reporting Service Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs and mutton suffered big corrections on Monday, with restocker lambs losing 24 cents, Merinos 10 cents, light lambs 12 cents, trade lambs 12 cents, heavy lambs 8 cents and mutton 15 cents.
This trend weakened on Tuesday, but the main slaughter lamb categories continued to lose ground. After Tuesday’s saleyards sales the ESDIs for lamb were: restocker 584c/kg, up 5 cents; Merino 588c/kg, up 6c; light 593c/kg, down 4c; trade 631c/kg, down 1c; heavy 642c/kg, down 6c.
The ESDI for mutton closed on Tuesday down 5 cents to 392c/kg.
Dubbo’s heavy lambs lift $6-$11
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards the agents yarded 23,000 lambs, 9795 more than last week, and 5500 sheep, 1332 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said lamb quality was good, with plenty of heavy and extra heavy lambs. Trade weights in good condition were limited and there were good numbers of store and light processing lambs. All the usual buyers operated in a dearer market.
Light restocking lambs sold from $52-$93. The 2 score processing lambs gained $3 and sold from $72-$118. Medium and heavy trade lambs were $4-$5 dearer at $122-$166. Heavy lambs sold to increased competition and gained $6-$11 to $155-$187. Carcase prices were 630-670c/kg. Extra heavy lambs topped at $226. Trade weight Merino lambs sold from $98 up to $168 for heavy lines.
Sheep quality was again mixed and fewer heavy sheep were penned. Merinos with longer wool sold to a dearer trend and plainer crossbred ewes were firm. Medium weights sold from $74-$129 and heavy Merinos made to $160. Most sold from 380c-440c/kg on average.
Corowa competition still strong
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,100 lambs, 2800 more than last week, and 4900 sheep, 200 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed but there were some excellent pens of extra heavy lambs and a good supply of trade lambs and plainer lines. All the usual buyers attended and competition remained strong in a slightly cheaper market.
Light trade lambs sold from $115-$139. Medium trade lambs made from $130-$159. Heavy trade lambs sold from $144-$170. Heavy lambs made from $158-$186. Extra heavy sold from $173-$224. Heavy Merino lambs topped at $156.
Sheep quality was mixed, with all weights and grades represented. The top crossbred and Merino ewes were cheaper, making to $140, and hoggets sold to $152.
Tamworth’s good trade lambs fall $14-$18
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 4950 lambs, 3400 more than last week, and 1450 sheep, 770 more.
The NLRS said it was a very mixed quality penning of lambs comprising good supplies of well-finished second cross trade and heavy weights. Condition ranged from plain to very good.
Processor demand was much weaker for the increased supply, with market trends cheaper. The well-finished good quality crossbred lambs in the trade weight category were $14-$18 cheaper. Secondary quality trade weights experienced greater falls. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs also experienced large price falls, down as much as $20, while quality variations added more-the negative price change in some cases. Restockers were active on the plainer condition lambs, while some finishers opted for heavier weights requiring less time for finishing.
Well finished sheep sold-a dearer trend, while the plainer sheep were cheaper.
Forbes first new season lambs sell to $164
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,600 lambs, 9550 more than last week, and 5500 sheep, 1050 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed with well-finished and plainer lambs offered. Most were heavy and extra heavy weights. The usual buyers competed in a cheaper market.
The first run of new season lambs offered sold from $153-$164. Light old lambs slipped $8 to $107-$125. Trade weights were $5-$8 cheaper at $118-$163. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were $6-$10 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $143-$176. Extra heavy weights made $166-$223. Carcase prices ranged from 607-655c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $126-$183.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was mixed. Prices were slightly cheaper, with Merino ewes selling from $81-$141. Crossbreds made $75-$122. Dorper ewes sold from $72-$110. Merino wethers made $76-$138.
Inverell yards fewer heavy lambs
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2150 lambs, 1315 fewer than last week, and 728 sheep, 148 less.
The NLRS said it as a rain-affected yarding. The lambs were mainly trade weights and a few light lambs. Fewer heavy lambs were offered. The market varied, with light and light trade lambs selling firm to slightly dearer and heavy lambs holding firm. Sheep quality was very mixed and prices changed little.
Strongest demand for best domestic lambs at Bendigo
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 12,019 lambs, 2648 fewer than last week, and 1962 sheep, 2081 more.
The NLRS said it was a typical winter yarding of very mixed quality including many small pen lots as producers sell the last of their old season lambs. The market fluctuated, opening cheaper before improving to record some very strong sales for domestic lambs late in the auction. The erratic flow of the sale, coupled with quality issues, resulted in some mixed price results.
The pick of the trade weight slaughter lambs were firm to a few dollars dearer, while the general run of medium and light weight lambs averaged below the buoyant results of a week ago. The Merino section was dominated by light weight pens under 16kg and these suffered the biggest price corrections amid much weaker demand for slaughter types.
Prices reached $200.50 for a line of export lambs estimated at around 30kg cwt. It was the only sale to break $200, with most of the extra heavy lambs ranging from $176-$190 depending on type, quality and number in the pen.
The strongest bidding was on heavy and medium trade weight lambs, with domestic buyers paying to $182. The pick of the heavy domestic lambs, with good fat cover and in shorter skins, sold from $160-$182 at an estimated 660c/kg cwt, with select lines over 700c/kg. Prices varied in the general run of trade lambs, with cwt rates varying from about 610-640c/kg. There was a definite price correction on lighter and plainer lambs under 20kg as bidding weakened for slaughter types.
Sheep quality was mostly average, with very few lines available. Prices were similar to cheaper in places. Extra heavy crossbred ewes sold from $108-$135. The best pens of heavy shorn Merino ewes made $93-$114 and ewes with a skin return topped at $127.
Ballarat’s trade and heavy lambs hold firm
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 11,680 lambs, 3976 fewer than last week, and 3520 sheep, 364 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was average, with more plain types. The usual buyers attended, plus some extra competition, although not all operated fully.
The trade and heavy weight lambs generally sold firm on last week, with plainer lighter drafts settling up to $5 easier. The best heavy lambs sold to $199, with the better covered heavier trade weights making $149-$178 and averaging around 665-670c/kg. Lighter Merino lambs sold from $60-$93 and were a few dollars easier. Feeder buyers were again very active and paid from $110-$158. Restockers paid $84-$127 and a Gippsland buyers was particularly active.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $80-$110. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $102-$143 and averaged around 640c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $136-$151. Heavy trade weights sold from $149-$178, ranging from 610-730c/kg and averaging around 660c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $168-$199. Heavy hoggets sold to $138.
The sheep yarding contained all weights and grades, with near full wool Merino wethers selling to $128. Sheep mostly sold similar, though some of the heavy crossbred ewes dearer in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $53-$102 and averaged around 390c/kg. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $64-$126 and ranged from 310-450c/kg. Merino mutton averaged close to 430c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $90-$138. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $108-$125 and the medium weights made $89-$128 and averaged around 420-430c/kg. Restockers also paid from $92-$100 for shorn Merino wethers. Rams of all weights sold from $46-$132.
Dublin’s first new season lambs make $130
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9033 lambs, 4037 more than last week, and 2699 sheep, 512 more.
The NLRS said the generally poorer quality yarding crossbred and Merino lambs sold to easing competition from the usual trade and processor buyers, with one notable processor absent due to a maintenance break.
Heavy weight crossbred lambs were the most affected by the waning processor interest and they eased substantially. Merino lamb prices were generally easier but not to the same extent as the crossbreds. Feeder buyers were surprisingly active on light weight crossbreds at dearer rates and the first new season lambs were offered, they attracted bidding from $102-$130. Light weight crossbreds suitable for feeders sold from $76-$118. Light weight lambs sold to processors attracted solid bidding at $100-$122 and averaged 552c/kg. Light trade weight 3 scores sold from $110-$122 to average 588c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores eased $9 to $130-$156 and averaged 569c/kg. Heavy weight lambs eased $14-$25, selling from $143-$178, or 560-570c/kg. Light weight Merino lambs sold to feeders and restockers for $49-$88. Full wool lambs sold to restockers made to $103. Trade weight Merinos sold to processors for $105-$120, averaging 545c/kg. Heavy weights eased $3 to $128-$144, averaging 509c/kg. Hoggets were plentiful, heavy weight Merinos making $112-$134 and crossbreds $103-$108.
The generally good quality sheep sold to easing processor demand. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $4 to $60-$90, averaging 309c/kg. Heavy weight 3 scores eased by up to $27 to $85-$110, averaging 317c/kg. The good selection of wethers eased $4 to $100-$134, or an average of 436c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $92-$122.
Naracoorte lambs $5 cheaper
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1200 lambs, 1947 fewer than last week, and 2295 sheep, 912 more.
The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers attended, but not all were fully active. A small number of restocker orders also competed for the very mixed quality lamb penning, but prices eased. Lightweight crossbred lambs sold to the trade for $100 and a small number purchased by restockers made $76-$96. Lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $108-$114 and similar Merinos made $88-$95. Trade weight 3 score lambs range sold from $121-$136, averaging close to 600c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold from $131-$157 and the few extra heavy lambs made $156-$184. All lambs were up to $5 easier in price overall. Hoggets ranged from $105-$128.
Some excellent quality heavy sheep came forward as the sheep prices improved. Ewes generally sold $6 dearer and more in places. Some excellent quality medium and heavy ewes were offered, including top quality Merinos. Medium weight ewes sold from $76-$100 and averaged 370c/kg. Heavy ewes made $108-$143. Light ewes sold from $62-$75. Rams made $66-$105.
Muchea yarding dominated by crossbred lambs
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5400 lambs, 1400 fewer than last week, and 3390 sheep, 990 more.
The NLRS said crossbred lambs made up close to 60 percent of the yarding. Quality was mixed, but there were good supplies of heavy and trade lambs, and reasonable numbers of light weight and store drafts.
All buyers were active, with live exporters competing on suitable lamb, ram and wether drafts and processors keen to secure supplies. Despite two major mutton processors being closed for maintenance, mutton demand remained very strong. Prices across most categories held firm but lighter weight processor and air freight lambs eased slightly.
Light lambs sold to restockers and feeders made $60-$95 and lines sold to processors made $70-$100 to be easier at times. Trade weight lamb held firm, with good numbers purchased by live export orders. Trade lamb sold from $90-$118 or 450-530c/kg cwt. Heavier lambs made $110-$125, with the heaviest lambs exceeding 25kg cwt.
Ewe weight and quality was good, with some drafts having close to full wool. Wether prices remained firm, with live exporters and feeders competing for suitable drafts. Heavy bare shorn export wethers sold to $105 and longer wool drafts made to $117. Lighter weight and store wethers made $75-$107, depending on finish and wool length. Ram prices were again driven by export feeder demand. Ram lambs sold from $75-$108 to processors, export feeders and live exporters. Older rams made $65-$102, mostly to exporters, and old rams sold to processors for $45-$80.
Tasmania lambs sell firm
At the northern Tasmania saleyards at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 695 lambs, 555 fewer than last week, and 450 sheep, 250 less.
The NLRS said the smaller yardings came after a wet week, but the closure of a major local exporter may have affected some producer’s decision to hold back drafts or find an alternative. The small numbers in all categories meant varying trends, but generally all averages were fully firm. Exporters bought light lambs for $62-$100 and restockers paid $95-$111. Trade lambs made $109-$132, heavy drafts $140-$156 and extra heavy lines $140-$151. Very light sheep made $38-$67, light lines $57-$77, medium sheep $68-$90 and heavy drafts $85-$100.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.