SLAUGHTER lamb prices generally improved in saleyards this week as supply tightened, with buyers paying equal or better rates for quality, but discounting secondary lines.
Prices have improved most for scarce quality trade lambs, followed by good restocking lambs and heavy lines, reflecting domestic demand on heavier lines.
However, secondary lambs showing the effects of the dry and hot weather in all states are being discounted more by processors looking for better finish and carcase yield, and by restockers or feeders looking for lambs in good condition.
Despite tightening saleyard lamb supplies, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted over-the-hook rates released by processors this week as generally lower.
NLRS indicators lift for slaughter lambs
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs were: restocker 521c/kg, up 6 cents; Merinos 451c/kg, down 23c; light 498c/kg, down 3c; trade 513c/kg, up 7c; heavy 508c/kg, up 3c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted 8 cents to 514c/kg and the heavy indice rose 3 cents to 508c/kg. The ESDI and national indicators for mutton dropped 9-10 cents to 278c/kg.
Over-the-hook lamb rates generally lower
The NLRS quoted New South Wale’s over-the-hook lamb rates as remaining fairly steady this week, with the top price being 520c/kg cwt. Mutton rates remained unchanged across all weight categories with medium and heavy weight rates reaching 300c/kg cwt.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 460-520c/kg, down 2c; 20-26kg+, 480-520c/kg, down 2c; Merinos 16-22kg, 390-470c/kg, no change. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 190-280c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 240-300kg, nc; 24kg+, 260-300c/kg, nc.
In Victoria, the NLRS said most over-the-hook lamb categories were down an average of 10c/kg cwt week-on-week, with trade weight indicators averaging 528c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators also declined up to 10c/kg cwt, with medium weights averaging 280c/kg cwt.
Victoria’s OTH 2-4 score lamb rates are: 16-22kg, 520-530c/kg, down 10-13c; 22-24kg, 510-530c/kg, down 13c; 24-26kg, 490-510c/kg, down 10c; 26kg+, 490c/kg, down 10c, Merinos 16-22kg, 460-520c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 220-280c/kg, down 10c; 18-24kg, 250-300c/kg, down 8c; 24kg+, 190-290c/kg, down 6c.
In South Australia, the NLRS said the over-the-hook trade and heavy lamb categories eased an average of 3c/kg cwt this week, while light weight and Merino lambs were unchanged. Mutton over-the-hook indicators were steady week-on-week.
SA’s 2-4 score OTH lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 500c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 500-530c/kg, down 3c; 24-26kg+, 490-500c/kg, down 3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 470c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 190-300c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 210-290c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 170-290c/kg, nc.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted the over-the-hook rates for lambs and sheep as unchanged. Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 490-520c/kg; 16-18kg, 500-540c/kg; 18-24kg, 510-540c/kg; 24-26kg, 520-540c/kg; 24kg+, 510-540c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg; 14-24kg, 270-280c/kg; 24kg+, 260-270c/kg.
Dubbo trade lambs lift $6
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,730 lambs, 552 fewer than last week, and 10,440 sheep, 1560 less.
The NLRS said it was a pretty good quality yarding, with a good number of heavy weight lambs and a fair selection of trade weights. There was a limited number of Merino lambs.
Light weight lambs sold to processors were firm to $3 dearer, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $60-$98. Trade lambs were up to $6 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 score lambs making $87-$133 and averaging around 490-530c/kg. Heavy weight lambs were $3-$5 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $120-$170, averaging around 500c/kg. The limited number of Merino lambs sold around firm, with the trade weights making $85-$116. Hoggets sold to $106.
There were some good lines of heavy weight crossbred ewes and Merino sheep, and a fair percentage of light weights in the mixed yarding. With the absence of one regular buyer, lightweight sheep were $10 cheaper, while the better heavy weight sheep were $6-$10 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold to processors made $20-$65. Better 3 and 4 score crossbreds sold from $38-$103 and to $111 for Merinos. Merino wethers sold to $105.
Tamworth’s trade and heavy lambs $2-$6 cheaper on quality
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2850 lambs, 2220 fewer than last week, and 1510 sheep, 1040 less.
The NLRS said the quality of the lamb penning was very mixed, with a large percentage of crossbred lambs showing the effects of the poor seasonal conditions. Quite a few Dorper lambs were penned, but there were limited supplies of good quality well-finished trade and heavy weight second cross lambs available. The usual butchers and processors attended, but restocker competition was minimal.
Lamb mostly sold cheaper, but good quality extra heavy lambs stood out. Average prices for young restocker lambs improved. Trade and heavy weight lambs sold to a cheaper trend of $2-$6, while secondary quality and Dorper lambs experienced greater price fall. Improved quality helped to lift prices for the extra heavy lambs to a slightly dearer trend.
Very plain condition sheep sold to a cheaper trend while medium and heavy weights saw little but quality and weight related price change on a reasonably firm market trend.
Forbes’ trade lambs lift $4-$8
The NLRS said lamb numbers eased and quality varied, with some lambs showing the effects of the season. There were large drafts of heavy and extra heavy lambs, and smaller drafts of well-finished heavy trades. Lighter trade weights were in short supply, but there were plenty of store lambs. All the usual buyers operated in a dearer market.
Restocking lambs were unchanged, with most selling from $75-$109. The better heavy trade lambs lifted $4-$8, with the medium and heavy weights making $98-$132, averaging 520-530c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were $4-$6 dearer at $125-$153 and the extra heavy lambs made to $178, averaging from 460-500c/kg. Merino trades made from $98-$129.
Sheep quality was very mixed. Most were ewes and prices were cheaper. Medium weights sold from $52-$78 and heavy crossbred ewes made to $103. Most of the better covered sheep made 260-280c/kg cwt.
Bendigo’s best slaughter lambs firm
At the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 10,987 lambs, 2036 fewer than last week, and 5060 sheep, 1054 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality deteriorated, with fewer heavy lambs coming forward off grain and lucerne following last week’s cheaper rates. Most of the lighter lambs showed the effects of the ongoing dry and hot weather.
Quality was a factor in price, with the best slaughter lambs similar to last week, but plainer and drier types averaging $2-$3 easier. Light lambs sold well in comparison, with the main runs of store lambs in the 12-16kg category averaging $7 dearer.
The market reached a top of $167 for heavy export lambs. There was only about a dozen pens of heavy export lambs over 28kg which sold from $153 to a top of $167 for a pen estimated at around 32kg cwt. These heavy lambs sold for 472-500c/kg cwt depending on breed quality and finish.
Quality and weight tailed-off very quickly and the limited pens of heavy trade weight lambs sold from $122-$145, with the major domestic buyers pushing into more weight again this week to access better carcase finish. However, most trade weight lambs were plainer types showing dryness and sold from $100-$120. On a carcase basis, the best crossbred trade lambs returned around 530c/kg, but across the yarding most made 485-510c/kg. Light lambs were well-supported by restockers and processors, with most sales from $80-$96. The best trade weight Merino lambs in a big skin sold to $133, with plainer and lighter types from $86-$113.
The better yarding of sheep had more lines of Merino wethers and ewes. Like recent sales, not all the major exporters operated. Prices over most mutton categories were $2-$5 weaker. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $76-$96. The best Merino wethers sold to $98.60 and ewes made to $85. Better quality mutton was estimated at 280-310c/kg.
Ballarat’s better trade lambs $2-$3 dearer
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 21,939 lambs, 2550 more than last week, and 5681 sheep, 393 fewer.
The NLRS said the average to good quality yarding included all weights and grades. The usual buyers operated in a generally firm lamb market.
Extra heavy lambs made to $180. The better trade weight lambs sold to $141 to be a few dollars dearer, with most trade lambs selling on quality, $2-$3 either side of firm. Heavy lambs sold close to firm, with seven pens selling above $170. Restockers, feeders and processors competed for the lighter lambs and sold mostly unchanged to $2 up on last week. Restocker lambs sold from $85-$115 and the lighter drafts made $50-$80. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $70-$94. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $86-$118 and averaged around 530c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs made $108-$128, with heavier drafts selling from $121-$141, or 500-570c/kg, averaging around 535c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $133-$161, with extra heavy lambs making $163-$180, averaging around 490c/kg. Heavy hoggets sold from $73-$121.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades, but more lighter lines. Lighter sheep sold a few dollars down on last week, with most other sheep selling close to firm. Medium weight Merino wethers sold $2-$3 better, with wool length playing a part. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $36-$74. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $40-$85, or 200-340c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 310c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $70-$111. Heavy rams made to $93. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $75-$100, with medium weights making $60-$85, at around 300-310c/kg.
Dublin’s trade lambs firm to $5 dearer
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7862 lambs, 1254 fewer than last week, and 1423 sheep, 379 fewer.
The NLRS said the crossbred and Merino lambs sold to easing demand. Heavy weight crossbred lambs were particularly shunned by exporters and prices tumbled, but heavy Merino lambs were strongly sought after and prices were on a par with recent weeks. Light weight crossbreds attracted occasional feeder buyer interest and light weight Merinos sold to restockers at reduced rates.
Light weight crossbreds sold to feeders at $50-$90. Light weight 3 scores bought by trade buyers eased $7 to $95-$110, averaging 476c/kg. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $5 to $108-$122, averaging 504c/kg. Heavy trade weights remained unchanged at $112-$134 and averaged 506c/kg. Heavy weight lambs eased $6-$15 to $130-$150, or 465-528c/kg.
Light weight Merino lambs sold to restockers and feeders eased $10-$15 to $30-$88 and those sold to processors eased $2 to $88-$105, averaging 446c/kg. Trade weights sold from $100-$120, or 404-457c/kg, and heavy weights eased $2 to make up to $137, averaging 497c/kg.
The NLRS said the generally indifferent quality sheep yarding sold to limited processor competition. Restockers bought ewes at $74 and wethers at $72. Light weight 2 score Merino ewes eased $6to $50-$72, averaging 241c/kg. Heavy weight 3 score Merino ewes eased $14 to $70-$101, to average 255c/kg. A small pen of crossbred wethers topped the sale at $110 and heavy weight rams sold from 50-$68.
Naracoorte lamb quality mixed
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 same small field of trade and processor buyers were active, with some restocker orders. Lamb quality was very mixed.
Light lambs sold from $76-$92 with light weight 2 and 3 scores making to $96. Light weight Merino lambs made $52-$97 and two pens of Merino ewe lambs sold to restocker for $92. Restockers paid to $77. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $94-$115, or 480-500c/kg. The few heavy 4 score lambs sold to a market high of $141.
Sheep quality improved and there was more competition between the regular buyers. Prices rose $2-$4. Light weight ewes sold from $52-$66 and medium weights made $77-$81, averaging 310c/kg. Heavy sheep sold from $80-$100. Wethers sold to $105 and rams made $28-$67.
Muchea lamb prices firm
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,865 lambs, 4349 more than last week, and 6232 sheep, 350 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb supply lifted strongly, with more light weight and store drafts. Lamb quality was mixed, with good supplies of well-finished trade and heavy weights. The large numbers of plain, secondary and light weight store lambs included very light Merino drafts. All the usual buyers were present, but were more selective. Prices remained firm for most categories, with the exception of air freight drafts which lifted with increased competition.
Light store lambs sold to restocker for $16-$65. Light Merino wether lambs made $30-$55. Light lambs, suitable for air freight processors and feed, sold-increased competition and were firm-$3 dearer, making $65-$98. Trade weight lambs sold between $75 and $112,-remain close-firm. Prime heavy drafts sold from $108-$119 and were back slightly on last week.
Ewe numbers increased and included some good heavy drafts and the usual plain and light lines. Merino ewes sold to restockers for $16 and $40. Ewe prices varied, with the light weight drafts selling from $15-$45, to be back slightly.
The 2 score processor mutton made $40-$75 to remain firm, with the better conditioned and heavy weight drafts making $65-$75, marginally dearer than last week.
Wether and ram numbers were similar. Wether prices remained close to firm, with the better export weight wethers making $85-$99 and store and lighter wethers from $45-$90. Limited live export activity was evident on the wethers, but there was solid demand for rams. Ram lambs sold from $60-$90 and younger rams sold to live export for $45-$80. Old rams sold to processors for $10-$35.
Northern Tasmanian light lambs lift $3-$5
In northern Tasmanian at the Powranna and Killafaddy saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 770 lambs, 280 fewer than last week, and 540 sheep, 510 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed, with many woolly lambs included in the yarding.
Light lambs sold $3-$5 dearer to the trade, while most other lambs were firm. Restockers paid $78-$100 for well-bred lambs in the 14-17kg range and exporters paid $78-$89 for light lambs destined for the Middle East. Light trade lambs made $97-$103, trade weights sold from $104-$117 and heavy and extra heavy weighs made $130-$140.
The mixed selection of mutton included fewer heavy sheep. Most mutton prices were $3-$4 cheaper. Light ewes sold from $41-$55 and medium weights made $58-$70. Medium weight wethers sold from $68-$77.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.