PRICES generally improved slightly for the tight supplies of quality trade and heavy lamb available in saleyards this week.
The tight quality supply situation is being exacerbated by stock water shortages in NSW forcing unfinished lambs into the saleyards and direct to works, depressing saleyard demand from processors.
Prices were firm to softer for quality trade lambs in NSW saleyards, lifting only for good heavy lambs over 26kg cwt. In Victoria and South Australia, prices lifted for well-finished trade and heavy lambs — mainly for supplementary-fed lines at Bendigo and Dublin, and for the fresher lambs at Ballarat.
Most 18kg+ cwt new season lambs are making 470-550c/kg in all states, but best quality 22-26kg cwt lambs sold to 580c/kg at Bendigo and Ballarat. Indicative of the dry season and supply pressure on processor’s grids was the general fall in over-the-hook rates this week. Restocker demand is solid in most saleyards.
The National Livestock reporting Service said market feedback suggested most processors have adequate supplies of sheep awaiting slaughter ahead of next week’s disrupted kill due to the Australia Day public holiday.
NLRS indicators start to lift for slaughter lamb
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for slaughter lambs lifted 2c/kg. The ESDI lamb rates are: restocker 533c/kg, down 1 cent; Merinos 456c/kg, no change; light 479c/kg, up 2c; trade 517c/kg, up 2c; heavy 531c/kg, up 2c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted 3 cents to 518c/kg and the heavy indice is up 2 cents to 531c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton fell 11 cents to 287c/kg and the national indicator is down 13 cents to 284c/kg.
Over-the-hook lamb rates falling
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook sheep and lamb indicators this week eased. Well-finished trade weight lambs are hard to find, with most being unfinished. Water supply is an issue in the south west, resulting in more turnoff into the saleyards and direct-to-works.
The NSW OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 440-540c/kg, down 18c/kg; 20-26kg, 480-540c/kg, down 12c; Merinos 16-22kg, 410-450c/kg, no change. The NSW mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 220-330c/kg, down 20c; 18-24kg, 260-330c/kg, down 18c; 24kg+, 250-330c/kg, down 10c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said most over-the-hook lamb indicators eased this week, with heavier weight categories registering the greatest declines. The light weight mutton indicator was marginally lower, while heavy weight mutton was dearer week-on-week.
The Victorian OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 520-530c/kg, down 3c/kg; 18-22kg, 520-540c/kg, down 5c; 22-24kg, 520-540c/kg, down 5c; 24-26kg, 5600-510c/kg, down 10c; 26kg+, 500c/kg, down 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, no change. Victoria’s mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 260-300c/kg, down 3c; 18-24kg, 280-300c/kg, no change; 24kg+, 240-270c/kg, up 8c.
In South Australia, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb indicators declined across all categories this week, with trade, heavy and extra heavy weights down an average of 23c/kg cwt week-on-week. Mutton indicators were firm, with no changes reported.
South Australia’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 480c/kg, down 30c; 18-24kg, 480-540c/kg, down 23c; 26kg+, 480-500c/kg, down 23c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, down 30c. SA’s mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 210-300c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 230-280c/kg, no change; 24kg+, 180-300c/kg, no change.
The NLRS reported Tasmania’s over-the-hook rates for sheep and lambs as unchanged this week. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 465-480c/kg; 16-18kg, 480-500c/kg; 18-26kg, 510-520c/kg. The mutton rates are: 0-14kg, 260-290c/kg; 14-24kg+, 280-290c/kg.
Queensland over-the-hook rates were not available at the time this report was prepared.
Dubbo’s heavy lambs $2-$4 dearer
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,800 lambs, 1520 more than last week, and 13.940 sheep, 6240 more.
The NLRS said there was a good selection of heavy weight lambs and a limited number of ideal trade weights. A couple of lines of very well-finished Merino lambs were yarded. Light weight lambs sold firm to processors, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $60-$92. Trade lambs finished $2-$3 cheaper, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $80-$129, to average 518c/kg cwt. Lambs weighing 22-26kg were $3 cheaper and those over 26kg finished $2-$4 dearer. The 22-26kg 4 scores sold from $126-$154 and lambs over 26kg made $150-$178.50. Merino lambs sold firm, with trade weights selling from $85-$117, and those over 22kg making $122-$135. Hoggets sold to $115 and restockers paid to $134 for first cross ewe lambs.
Most weights and grades were represented in the sheep yarding. Light and medium weight ewes were $15-$18 cheaper and heavier sheep finished $5 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $20-$53, while the better 3 and 4 score crossbreds sold from $45-$94 and heavy weight Merinos with longer skins made to $125.
Tamworth’s trade weight lambs fall $3-$6
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 4750 lambs, 1180 fewer than last week, and 1700 sheep, 3300 fewer.
The NLRS said there was a limited supply of well-finished trade and heavyweight lambs as vendors show resistance to the falling market, but a large offering of lightweight young lambs suitable for the restockers. The usual buyers were present. Market trends were again cheaper for the trade and heavyweight lambs in both young lamb and lamb categories.
Trade weight lambs were down by $3-$6, with some quality related price change also. Heavyweight lambs were less-affected, with some sales indicating little change. Despite the cheaper market for the finished product, restocker orders were very strong on lightweight young lambs and prices were up to $8 dearer.
Trends varied in the sheep market, with medium weights mostly cheaper, down $1-$5. Heavy sheep prices change little. However, there was some weight-related price change.
Forbes’ trade lambs steady
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 32,400 lambs, 8150 more than last week, and 9850 sheep, 600 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with more plainer store types. Some good lines of heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were offered. Most of the usual buyers competed in a fairly steady market.
Light lambs held firm sold from $94-$102. Trade weights also held fairly steady, though some of the plainer lambs sold to a cheaper trend. Prices ranged from $104-$126. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were also fairly firm. Heavy weight lambs sold from $125-$137 and extra heavy weights made $138-$177. Carcase prices ranged from 482-526c/kg.
Most of the sheep were Merinos. More plainer light sheep were offered. Quality sheep held fairly firm, but the plainer types showed a cheaper trend. Merino ewes sold from $72-$104. Crossbred ewes ranged from $64-$90. Merino wethers made $76-$118.
Bendigo’s best slaughter lambs to 580c/kg
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 13,655 lambs, 6661 fewer than last week, and 7013 sheep, 1215 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained very mixed, with only supplementary-fed lambs displaying good finish and carcase weight. Most of the lambs off grass were in plainer condition, lacking fat and cover due to the dry conditions. The market fluctuated, opening softly before gaining momentum to post some much dearer prices for quality trade weight lambs toward the end of selling.
Prices for well-finished lambs, 22-26kg cwt, and suiting the top domestic kill orders, averaged $5-$10 dearer. Other lambs recorded mixed results depending on quality. The market reached a top of $157 for shorn export lambs. There wasn’t a lot of weight in the yarding this week and the limited selection of export lambs sold from about $150-$157 and averaged an estimated 515c/kg cwt. Buyers were working on slightly stronger skin returns of up to $10.
Domestic demand was the main driver of the market this week, with the lead pens of lambs in a carcase range of 22-26kg cwt selling from $128-$150. Some of these lambs were estimated at up to 580c late in the sale, while the overall average across all lots was about 540c/kg cwt. Bidding for secondary lambs was more erratic at $105-$120 for light and medium weight trade lambs, while small lambs ranged from $48-$96 and were cheaper in places.
Store lamb prices also fluctuated, with some sales dearer and others cheaper for an overall softer result compared to last week. Most of the better-sized store lambs sold from $70-$90, with select pens out to $107.60.
Processor demand for mutton was much weaker, despite a smaller offering. Most weights and grades recorded price falls of $12-$16, with very plain and lightweight ewes recording some of the biggest corrections compared to a week ago. Feedback suggests most processors have adequate supplies of sheep awaiting slaughter ahead of next week’s disrupted kill due to the Australia Day public holiday. The best price of $108.60 was paid by restockers for a line of heavy Merino wethers in a high-value skin. Heavy crossbred ewes sold to slaughter made $66-$98. The bulk of the light ewes sold from $20-$55. Carcase rates of 230-265c/kg covered most mutton sales.
Ballarat’s trade and heavy lambs lift $5
In the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 25,509 lambs, 4191 fewer than last week, and 12,710 sheep, 1990 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was average to good. The regular buyers operated keenly in a dearer lamb market, with trade weight and heavy lambs generally selling up to $5 higher. The best heavy lambs sold to $175, with well-covered lambs suiting domestic orders making $125- $152. A good line up of heavy and extra heavy lambs was presented in excellent condition and with plenty of weight.
Restockers and feeders were active and paid mostly from $78-$128 for lambs and from $47-$70 for the lighter drafts. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $65-$83. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $82-$114, averaging around 525c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $105-$126, with the heavier drafts making $120- $142 and ranging from 490-580c/kg to average close to 550c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $134-$162, with extra heavy export lambs making $168-$175 and averaging close to 510c/kg. The best unshorn lambs sold from $138-$140.
Sheep quality was good, with a notable spread of all weights and grades. Not all regular buyers attended or operated and sheep sold to weaker demand to be $15 down on last week in some categories. Restockers paid from $56-$84 for crossbred ewes, and from $74-$100 for Merino wethers. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $22-$64. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $35-$88, and ranged from 180-290c/kg. Merino mutton averaged close to 260c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $50-$84, with heavy Merino wethers making $55-$90. Medium weight Merino wethers sold from $52-$86 and averaged around 280c/kg.
Dublin’s heavy trade lambs lift $12
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7293 lambs, 293 more than last week, and 3392 sheep, 392 more.
The NLRS said the yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold stronger competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. Many lambs were showing signs of the dwindling feed reserves and buyers were keen to secure supplementary-fed lambs.
Adelaide Plains and Yorke Peninsula feeders operated cautiously on shorn lambs and one buyer bought trade weight shorn lambs to feed on for up to $110. Light weight crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $60-$96, while trade weight lines sold to feeders for $98-$110. Light weight 3 score lambs sold to trade buyers lifted $2 to $97-$110, averaging 516c/kg. Light trade weight 3 scores lifted $4 to $108-$122, averaging 500c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted $12 to $119-$147, averaging 548c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $5-$10 to $125-$160, or 515-531c/kg.
Light weight Merino lambs were plentiful. Restockers and feeders paid $30-$76, while light weights sold to processors lifted $2 to make up to $85. Trade weight Merinos sold from $102-$112 to average 458c/kg and heavy weights made to $120.
Hoggets were plentiful and quality was down. Heavy weight Merinos lifted $12 to $104-$120 and heavy weight crossbreds made $112-$128.
The generally good quality yarding of sheep sold to easing competition from a small group of trade and processor buyers. Restockers were active at cheaper rates and bought large numbers. Restockers paid $55-$89 for ewes and $70-$78 for wethers, while light weight 2 score ewes sold to processors eased $12 to $40-$65. Heavy weight 3 score ewes eased $13 to $55-$84, to average 224c/kg. Heavy weight wethers eased $13 to sell from $86-$108 and average 270c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $42-$68.
Naracoorte’s trade weight lambs fall $6
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2565 lambs, 181 more than last week, and 1997 sheep, 154 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed with only a few pens of good quality lambs with weight and condition. A much smaller field of trade and processor buyers was present and not all were fully active. Restockers were active, as all prices dipped, with sheep suffering a significant fall.
Lightweight lambs sold to the trade for $98 and restockers paid to $99. Lightweight Merino lambs sold to the trade for $84 and restocking Merinos made up to $79. Lightweight trade 2 and 3 score crossbred lambs ranged from $96-$103 and similar Merino lambs sold to $96. Restockers paid to $102, $4 less than last week. Trade weight 3 score lamb prices fell $6 to $105-$121, averaging 500c/kg cwt. Only a few heavy lambs came forward and made $118-$146, a fall of up to $6.
Hoggets ranged from $80-$97 with wethers sold to $94. Lightweight ewes sold to $35. Medium weight crossbred ewes sold from $43-$56 and similar weight Merinos made $51-$62 at an average of 230c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes mainly made $52-$85. Merino ewes made up to $90. All ewes sold at least $15 easier with more in places. Rams sold to $52.
Muchea’s lamb prices ease by up to $9
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7336 lambs, 1536 more than last week, and 4800 sheep, 2570 fewer.
The NLRS said more very light weight Merino lamb drafts increased the lamb yarding by almost 1500. Prime heavy and trade lambs were well-supplied, but buyers were more selective.
Prices for prime lamb eased by up to $9, with light and store drafts also back considerably. Very light lamb mostly Merinos sold for $11-$53 to restockers and were more than $6 cheaper. Light lamb sold to air freight processors and feedlots also dropped around $9 to $48-$88. Trade weight lamb sold from $70-$114, to be close to 480c/kg for the prime drafts, back $4-$9 on last week. Heavy lamb made $102-$116, also back close to $6.
Mutton prices remained close to last week’s rates and wethers lifted slightly, despite limited live export orders. There were some good drafts of heavy weight ewes and prices were similar, with the light weight drafts making $10-$40. The 2 score processor mutton made $35-$65, also firm on last week, at close-220c/kg cwt. Better-conditioned and heavy weight ewes sold from $47-$78, with skin values of up to $12 on some ewes. Restockers were not as active this week and young ewe prices eased by close to $6 to $30-$55. Mature ewes mostly made $15-$52.
Wether prices lifted by close to $6, all going to feeders and restockers. Live exporter orders were limited. Heavier export wethers made $70-$95, with the lighter and store drafts selling from $60-$75. Dearer wethers had skin values of up to $15. Rams sold to live export buyers made $30-$70 and old rams suitable for processing sold for $10-$30. Ram lambs sold to $80. Discounts for stock presented with old declarations continued, and in some cases, reduced values by more than $10.