Season and lack of supply hits lamb contracts hard, forcing saleyard action

Sheep Central January 18, 2017
These August-September drop composite wether lambs, 17.1kg cwt and score 1, sold for $119 at Orange, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These August-September drop composite wether lambs, 17.1kg cwt and score 1, sold for $119 at Orange, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

LAMB processors hit by lack of contract supplies and quality have helped pushed saleyard prices still higher this week, building on a strong start in centres last week.

Despite processor warnings of discounts for heavier lambs in 2017, lamb prices in all categories continued to increase in the second week of saleyard sales this year.

The failure of some contracted lambs to meet quality and weight specifications due to poor pasture feed, a general lack of quality supplies and domestic processors needing supplies for Australia Day promotions were the main reasons given for the general lift in prices this week.

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After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicator for trade lambs lifted 9 cents to 615c/kg, up 94 cents year-on-year. The heavy lamb indicator was up 8 cents to 600c/kg, up 69 cents year-on-year.

The other lamb ESDIs, their daily and year-on-year changes were: restocker 674, up 6 cents, up 154c; Merino 557cv/kg, up 10c, up 88c; light 630c/kg, up 13c, up 147c/kg. The ESDI for mutton rose 6 cents to 411c/kg, up 98 cents year-on-year.

After medium and heavy lambs lifted up to $20 at Bendigo on Monday, FP Nevins and Co agent James Nevins said the market was stronger than expected.

“This was mainly due to, although there are a lot of lambs booked in over the hooks, because of the long hay season and the very long harvest, lambs have been put in the paddock in the belief the feed was sufficient to bring them up to scratch, and it hasn’t.

“So there are a lot of shorn lambs that have failed to do and are not in a position to be sold or to meet the forward contract requirements,” he said.

“They will eventually hit it, but now they have to be supplementarily fed to bring them up.”

Mr Nevins said the agency tried to source 2500 lambs between Christmas and New Year for a New South Wales abattoir, but went through 10,000 lambs and struggled to get 1800 that met the specifications.

“These are lambs that have been booked in at 530, 540 and 550c/kg and I know they are making 630-650c/kg (in the saleyards) at the moment, but that is because some agents are having to go back in to the market and buy lambs to fill contracts.

“Everybody has got to try to fulfil their contract, but if they can’t fulfil their contract the abattoirs are going into the markets to buy up what they need for their kills.”

Mr Nevins said he was starting to think that there were not the amount of lambs held over as some people had predicted.

“A lot of lambs were sold off as suckers, so there are not the shorn lambs out there that everybody may have been expecting.”

Dubbo agent Cleve Olsen lamb prices were lifting on a general short supply, including because lambs had not performed on pasture and have had to be shorn and put on supplementary feed.

“It’s very, very hot up here – it’s 42 or 43 degrees Celsius – and the feed is drying out terribly – no good for lambs.”

Mr Olsen said some processors were also still trying to buy lambs direct for less than the physical market.

The National Livestock Reporting Service reported over-the-hook lamb indicators in New South Wales remained fairly steady this week, although increased supply at the saleyards this week could alter prices in the coming weeks. The NSW OTH light and trade lamb rates were lifted 6 cents this week with 18-20kglambs at 500-560c/kg and 20-24kg lambs at 520-560c/kg. The 24-26kg lamb grid is unchanged at 480-540c/kg and Merino lambs were firm at 480-510c/kg.

In Victoria, the NLRS said most lamb over-the-hook categories registered a week-on-week increase, with trade weights up an average of 20c/kg cwt, to 550c/kg cwt. The 16-18kg lambs were at 560c/kg, up 30 cents; 18-24kg lambs rose 20 cents to 530-560c/kg and the 24-26kg lambs were lifted 20 cents to 490-560c/kg.

In South, the OTH lamb rates were unchanged week-on-week, with trade weights 20-22kg averaging 537c/kg cwt. The 18-20kg lambs were priced at 500-530c/kg, 20-24kg lambs at 530-540c/kg, 24-26kg lambs at 490-540c/kg and Merinos at 460-500c/kg.

Dubbo’s heavy lambs $9-$11 dearer

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 21,730 lambs, 8960 more than last week, and 6800 sheep, 500 more.

The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding with good numbers of heavy weight lambs and a pretty good selection of trade weights. Merino and new season lambs were in limited supply.

Light weight lambs sold firm to $2 dearer to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $62-$108. Trade lambs were $5-$10 dearer, with old lambs selling from $106-$150 to average 595c/kg. Heavy weight lambs were $9-$11 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $138-$204. Merino lambs were $5 dearer, with the trade weight Merinos making $107-$134. Restockers paid to $117 and hoggets sold to $135.

It was a much plainer quality yarding of sheep, with fewer pens of heavy weights. Most grades of ewes sold close to firm, while the wethers were $4-$6 cheaper. The 2 score ewes made $50-$81, the better 3 and 4 score crossbreds sold from $68-$120 and full wool Dohnes made $144. Merino wethers sold to $127.

Corowa trade lambs $10 stronger

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 12,100 lambs, 5000 more than last week, and 5300 sheep, 3600 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was very good. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were well-supplied, while trade weights were limited and in demand. There was a reasonable number of lighter weights, which also attracted strong competition from restockers and processors. Ideal trade weights were scarce and top prices were paid for the right article. All the usual buyers operated in the dearer market.

Restocking light weight lambs sold from $85-$115. The medium and heavy trade weights were $10 stronger on most lines, with some of the well-presented lambs much dearer. Prices ranged from $124-$160, averaging 640-660c/kg. Heavy lambs gained $7-$10 to $135-$178 and extra heavy lambs sold to $195. Carcase prices ranged from 570-630c/kg. The best of the heavy hoggets made $135. Merino trade lambs averaged $127.

Sheep quality was good with plenty of weight. Prices were firm to $5 better, with the medium weight ewes making $84-$112. Heavy crossbred ewes sold to $140 and heavy Merino wethers made $135. Most averaged 420-455c/kg.

Tamworth’s heavy lambs firm to dearer

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3100 lambs, 500 more than last week, and 1950 sheep, 100 more.

The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was very mixed, with a large number of light weight young lambs suited to restockers. The percentage of well-finished lambs suitable to the trade was well down, while secondary quality trade lambs were in fair numbers. The usual buyers attended.

Demand was a little stronger for all classes, with trade weight and heavy lamb buyers struggling to fill requirements.

Restockers were active on the plain, light young lambs, which sold up to $5 dearer. Price averages for well-finished trade weight lambs improved by $3-$4. Heavy weight lambs over 22kg were firm to only slightly dearer.

There were quite a few young woolly Merino wethers. These sheep attracted restocker competition at well over the slaughter rate. Light weight plain condition sheep for slaughter sold cheaper and medium weights remained firm.

Bendigo lambs up to $20 dearer

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 6361 lambs, 2312 fewer than last week, and 4810 sheep, 1300 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with the yarding including shorn and unshorn lambs of very good quality down to many unfinished lambs lacking cover. The usual buyers operated in the very strong market which started well and continued to lift, as processors were determined to fill orders.

Heavy and medium weight lambs were $10-$15 dearer and up to $20 higher in places. Light lambs sold $5-$10 higher.

Restocker activity was limited with the rise in prices, but they bought store lambs mostly from $91-$124 and lighter pens from $31-$61. They also purchased Merino lambs for $90 and were involved in the sheep market buying good quality first cross ewes for $107-$119.

Light weight 2 score lambs sold to processors for $104-$117, averaging close to 680c/kg. Light trade weights made from $109-$130, averaging 650c/kg. Medium trade weight 3 score unshorn lambs sold from $120-$145 and heavier trade weight 3 and 4 score drafts made $148-$163, averaging 620c/kg. Heavy weight unshorn 4 score lambs sold from $159-$183. Medium weight 3 score shorn lambs sold from $134-$159, for an estimated average of 640c/kg. Heavy shorn lambs sold from $160-$185.

Sheep prices overall remained mostly firm with some medium weight mutton sales $2-$4 dearer. One less heavy sheep buyer attended. Very light sheep sold from $35-$62 and the light 1 and 2 scores made from $66-$85.

Medium weight sheep sold from $89-$107, with a pen of longer wool Merino ewes making $115. Merino ewe mutton averaged 415c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep sold from $105-$138, averaging close to 380c/kg. Merino wethers sold from $112-$129 to also average an estimated 425c/kg. Merino ewes with a good skin sold to $133.

Ballarat’s heavy lambs $9-$13 dearer

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 33,167 lambs, 3318 more than last week, and 10,736 sheep, 2835 more.

The NLRS said the quality of most of the most of lambs was good for the regular processors. More heavy lambs were offered, plus a mixed selection of unshorn lambs. The market continued on a stronger and dearer trend.

Some excellent agent runs of shorn heavy lambs sold from $200-$214, a highlight of today’s sale. Light lambs sold to good competition, especially early in the sale, to be $5-$9 higher. Medium trade weight lambs were $4-$6 dearer and heavy lambs mostly sold from $9-$13 dearer.

Restockers were active, buying store lambs for mostly $101-$126, and lighter pen lots for $54-$90. Light trade unshorn lambs sold from $110-$128 to average 670c/kg, medium trade weight unshorn lambs sold from $120-$150 to average 620c/kg and the heavy trade weight lambs made $150-$162, averaging 625c/kg. The heavy unshorn lambs sold from $160-$170, or 605-610c/kg. Light weight 2 score shorn lambs sold from $94-$115, averaging 670c/kg.

Light trade weight shorn lambs sold from $110-$124 and averaged 650c/kg. Medium trade weight 2 and 3 score shorn lambs made $120-$146 and heavier trade weight 3 and 4 score drafts sold from $143-$157, or mostly 620-630c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs made $154-$172 and extra heavy lambs sold from $190-$214 at around 605-610c/kg.

The sheep yarding comprised all weights and grades, including good quality heavy crossbred ewes. The market remained steady, with medium weight mutton firm to $2 dearer, heavy sheep firm and light sheep equal but selling to strong competition. Very light sheep sold from $20-$55 and the light weight 1 and 2 scores sold from $59-$93, to average an estimated 440c/kg. Medium trade weight sheep made $85-$105 with full wool Merino ewes selling to $119. Merino ewe mutton averaged 425c/kg and crossbred mutton averaged 395c/kg.

Heavy crossbred sheep sold from $98-$133 to average 375c/kg. Heavy Merino wethers made $115-$132, medium wethers sold from $90-$113 and a pen of full wool wethers made $123, averaging around 420c/kg. Heavy hoggets sold from $110-$148 and the best of the rams of all breeds made $90-$130.

Restockers bought crossbred ewes for $98-$120, Merino ewes for $111-$119 and Merino wethers for $113.

Dublin’s trade lambs lift $20, heavies up $15-$30

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7528 lambs, 1710 more than last week, and 3186 sheep, 1519 more.

The NLRS said lamb and sheep quality was mixed, with dryness a factor in much of the offering. The usual buyers attended and nearly all were very keen to make purchases. Demand lifted greatly and prices were much dearer.

The light lambs averaged $10 higher, trade weights were up to $20 higher and heavy weight lambs sold $15-$30 dearer. The light weight 2 score lambs sold from $80-$96, with restockers paying to $114. The light trade weight 2 and 3 score, 16-18kg lambs made $90-$120. Trade weight 3 score 18-22kg lambs sold from $114-$142, or an estimated 615c/kg average. The heavier 22-26kg trade and export lambs in 3 and 4 score condition made $140-$184 and averaged 620c/kg. Those few pens over 26kgs sold from $170-$188. Heavy weight 3 and 4 score hoggets made $106-$141.

Sheep made up to $10 more than last week, but some remained unchanged in the fluctuating sale. Medium weight 18-24kg 2 and 3 score ewes sold from $75-$108, with restockers paying to $103. The heavy weight over 24kg 3 and 4 score ewes sold from $92-$118 and restockers paid to $115. Medium weight wethers made $85-$108 with restockers paying to $110. Heavy weight wethers were the most sought-after sheep and they sold from $98-$136. Heavy weight 2 and 3 score rams over 26kgs made $90-$122 and restockers paid to $126.

Naracoorte trade and heavy lambs lift by up to $20

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3300 lambs, 1763 more than last week, and 3100 sheep, 1569 more.

The NLRS said agents offered generally better quality sheep and lambs than the previous sale. The usual trade and processor buyers were joined by a larger number of restockers; however, trade competition kept all but the bravest restockers competing on the lighter weight lambs.

Trade and processor buyers were highly animated in their bidding and pushed the medium and heavy weight lamb prices up by $10-$15, with some sales up to $20 dearer. Hoggets improved by a similar amount, with an odd sale $20 dearer.

Few young lambs were offered, with the best making to $148. Light older lambs sold from $81-$111. The 18-20kg lambs made $100-$123, 20-22kg lines sold from $110-$135 and 22-24kg lambs made $106-$124. Some extreme heavy weights sold from $152-$180. The smaller supply of hoggets generally sold from $118-$124.

A good selection of trade weight ewes also met stronger competition and prices improved by $5-$10 and more in places. Light ewes sold from $66-$99, medium weights $92-$112, and some extreme heavy weight crossbred ewes sold from $116-$136. Light and medium weight rams generally sold from $81-$97 with heavy weights made $90-$130.

Muchea trade lambs lift $3-$5

At the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5400 lambs, 2025 fewer than last week, and 3550 sheep, 1130 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was not up to last week’s level, with a more mixed quality yarding.

Live export competition was lower, but demand from the full field of processors and restockers lifted prices in most categories by at least $5.

Light store lambs made $45-$80, $2-$9 dearer. Light lambs sold to processors at $72-$107, $3-$10 dearer. Trade lambs averaged close to 550c/kg cwt with a spread from 495-580c/kg, with most sales at $100-$125 and $3-$5 dearer than last week. Heavy lambs sold from $115-$135 and were $5 dearer. Hoggets sold well, with heavy weights making $82-$110 to processors, and lighter drafts $65-$82.

Ewes sold dearer, with the lighter drafts $4-$12 dearer and heavy drafts $5 dearer to the trade. Light weight ewes made $44-$78, with the 2 score medium weight mutton selling from $70-$92 and $12 dearer. Better conditioned drafts made $71-$116 to be close to $5 dearer. Restockers were active on any suitable lines but only managed to secure a few drafts.

Young ewes sold to restockers for $64-$91, with mature drafts making $64-$79. Wether prices remained strong, with processors active along with restockers and live export. Heavy wethers made $96-$115, with lighter and store drafts mostly selling for $80-$110, depending on weight, quality and wool length. Rams were dearer with additional competition. Ram lambs made $67-$120, with young rams going for export and to feed selling for $60-$103. Old rams sold to processors for $29-$70, with all categories dearer by $5 or more.

Tasmanian lamb prices up $10-$15

At the northern Tasmanian saleyards of Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 900 lambs, 100 more than last week, and 900 sheep.

The NLRS said the quality of lambs was very good, with many excellent drafts of heavy weights available, although some lambs had lost their finish. The market followed interstate trends and with an extra Victorian buyer, prices were $10-$15 higher.

Light export lambs made $91-$100, light trades $95-$108, medium trades $113-$137, heavy lambs $133-$142 and extra heavies $138-$153. Most were unshorn. The mutton market was again strong, with medium weight ewes and wethers making $78-$116 and heavy lines $92-$111.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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