SLAUGHTER lamb prices generally eased in saleyards early this week as quality supplies tightened.
Despite the Hamilton lamb yarding on Monday halving to 27,919 head, the higher overall national offering, with increased offerings in some New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian centres, allowed buyers to be selective.
This was especially evident at some NSW and Victorian centres, where prices for light, trade and heavy slaughter lambs dipped as more plain quality drafts were offered.
Not all the regular export and domestic buyers operated in all markets, with some absent or very selective at several saleyards. But in most saleyards, restocking and feeder competition underpinned light and trade weight lamb prices.
NLRS lamb indicators generally lower
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs were: restocker 530c/kg, down 5 cents; Merino 454c/kg, up 4c; light 494c/kg, down 6c; trade 519c/kg, down 2c; heavy 529c/kg, down 1c. The national trade lamb indicator closed down 2 cents to 520c/kg and the heavy indice finished on 528c/kg, also 2 cents lower.
The ESDI for mutton was 6 cents lower at 309c/kg and the national indicator lost 5 cents to finish on 308c/kg.
NLRS over-the-hook lamb indicators lift in Vic
The NLRS said over-the-hook sheep and lamb indicators eased in NSW this week, after supply increased last week. Most contributors’ lamb rates are hovering around 500-520c/kg cwt.
In Victoria, the NLRS said there were upward movements to lamb over-the-hook indicators this week, mostly in the light and trade weight categories. Mutton indicators lifted slightly across all weight ranges.
Over-the-hook lamb indicators increased across all categories in South Australia week-on-week, with trade and heavy weights an average of 13c/kg cwt dearer. Mutton over-the-hook indicators declined, with light weight mutton down 14c/kg cwt on average.
Tasmania’s over-the-hook rates for sheep and lambs were unchanged, and Western Australia’s rates were unavailable when this report was published.
Dubbo’s young trade lambs fall $7-$12, heavies down $9-$15
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 20,715 lambs, 7425 more than last week, and 14,110 sheep, 4430 more.
The NLRS said it was a plainer quality yarding, with larger numbers of light lambs and fewer extra heavy weights than last week. Not all the regular buyers operated in the weaker market.
Light lambs were $5 cheaper, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $62-$90. Lambs sold to restockers made $37-$93. Trade lambs were $7-$12 cheaper, with the 18-22kg new season lines making $91-$129, to average 525c/kg cwt. Trade weight old lambs sold from $76-$128. Heavy weight lambs were $9-$15 cheaper, with the over 22kg old lambs selling from $120-$168. Merino lambs were $6 cheaper, with the trade weights making $74-$113.
Most grades of sheep were $5-$9 cheaper in a mixed quality yarding. The 2 score ewes sold from $27-$69 and the better 3 and 4 score Merinos made $62-$110 and crossbreds sold to $98. Prime condition Merino wethers sold from $88-$116.
Tamworth lambs slightly cheaper
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2950 lambs, 1150 fewer than last week, and 2550 sheep, 10 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed. Young lambs were in fair supply. However, there was a limited number of well-finished trade weights. Heavy old lambs were well-supplied. The usual buyers attended.
There was little change in the market trend for young lambs. Both trade and heavy weights were slightly cheaper, while quality contributed to some price change. Old lambs sold to a cheaper trend, down $3-$4 with quality accounting for some greater price change. The warmer weather and large supplies in other areas eased pressure on buyers.
The quality of the grown sheep was mixed, with medium weights making up most of the offering. The market trended slightly cheaper, when taking quality and weight variations into account.
Forbes’s heavy lambs $6-$8 cheaper
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 18,471 lambs, 4908 more than last week, and 8811 sheep, 3941 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair, with good numbers of well-finished lambs and some plainer types offered. Most of the usual buyers competed in a cheaper market.
Trade weight new season lambs sold from $115-$125 with heavy weights reaching $143. Light old lambs were $3 easier at $92-$104. Trade weights were $3-$5 easier, though some sales held firm. Prices ranged from $103-$126. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were $6-$8 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $127-$137 and extra heavy weights ranged from $134-$172. Carcase prices were mostly between 500-535c/kg.
The sheep were mostly mixed quality Merinos. Prices were $7-$10 cheaper. Merino ewes sold from $66-$93, crossbreds from $66-$96 and Dorper ewes from $63-$77. Merino wethers made $70-$106.
Bendigo’s best shorn lambs $2-$6 easier
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 22,090 lambs, 6214 more than last week, and 11,808 sheep, 3263 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality ranged from good on the lead drafts of shorn lambs to mostly plain in the longer wool young lambs. One major domestic processor was absent. Prices fluctuate across the yarding.
Pens of well-finished shorn lambs received the best support to average $2-$6 easier, while longer wool young lambs-slaughter were mostly $4-$9 cheaper. Restocking support was solid and store lambs were generally firm to $1-$2 softer in places. The market reached a top of $157.60 for extra heavy shorn lambs estimated at 32kg cwt.
The supply of heavy lambs was limited. However, interest from export processors was also fairly subdued. There was only one sale above $150, with the few pens of heavy shorn lambs mostly making $140-$146. The top pens of trade weight lambs sold from $120-$138. The market showed its biggest correction on plainly finished and domestic 21-23kg cwt lambs, which mostly sold from $105-$118. On a carcase basis, the best quality shorn lambs made 500-530c/kg, while longer wool young lambs trended mostly from 480-510c/kg.
Restocker demand was solid with orders from Horsham, Swan Hill, Wycheproof and the local Bendigo area. The better sized lambs sold to the paddock averaged $98, with smaller types mostly from $64-$87.
The sheep were mostly ewes of all weights and sizes. Not all the regular export orders operated. Bidding was erratic at times and price results varied depending on weight and quality. Heavy crossbred ewes gained up to $10, although there was some very big sheep yarded and no noticeable change in carcase rates. Medium weight mutton fluctuated from firm to a couple of dollars easier in places, while very light sheep in plain score 1 and 2 condition were cheaper. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $80-$108.60, heavy Merino ewes to $90 and wethers to $93.20.
Hamilton’s medium trade lambs firm to $2 dearer
In the Hamilton saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 27,919 lambs, 39,712 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said lamb quality was plainer, with more showing dryness in skin and of lighter carcase weights. However, there were still some very good pens of extra heavy and ideal domestic lambs. A full field of buyers attended and bid strongly.
Heavy lambs remained firm to $1-$2 dearer. Medium trade lambs were also firm to $2 dearer for the better quality 3 scores but $2-$7 cheaper for the plainer 2 score lambs with drier skins. Very light lambs sold $5-$7 cheaper and prices dipped $1-$2 lower for 2 score light lambs, helped by a local processor and restocker competition.
Store buyers bought more than 20 percent of the total yarding. Restockers were active, coming from Horsham, Shepparton, Swan Hill, South Australia and locally. They paid $44-$73 for very light lambs and $66-$105 for 2 and 3 scores weighing from 10-19kg, with carcase weight prices of 460-600c/kg, to average close to 530c/kg.
The 2 score light trade weight lambs sold to processors made $88-$108 and medium trade weight 2 and 3 scores sold from $93-$115. Heavy to medium trade weight drafts of mainly 3 scores sold from $107-$131 or 460-560c/kg, averaging close to 515c/kg. Heavier weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $122-$146, or 460-540c/kg to average 525c/kg. Extra heavy 4 and 5 scores sold from $150-$171.
Ballarat’s best trade lambs sell firm
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 41,643 lambs, 2742 more than last week, and 15,424 sheep, 825 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was average to good, with all weights and grades offered. The usual buyers operated selectively in a generally firm market for the better presented trade weight lambs. Plainer types sold a little easier.
Heavy lambs were $2-$4 easier on quality, with not as much weight this week. Heavy lambs reached a top of $153.20. The best shorn lambs sold to $131.50.
Large numbers of lighter weight lambs were yarded this week, with processors, feeders and restockers again very active. Restockers and feeders paid mostly from $74-$118 for unshorn lambs, $38-$68 for smaller drafts and $77-$105 for shorn young lambs. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $70-$92. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $81-$115, or around 490c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $106-$125, with the heavier lots making $122-$137.50, 470-530c/kg to average around 515c/kg.
Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $130-$153.20 and averaged around 520c/kg. Heavy shorn lambs sold from $128-$131.50 and the trade weights made $93-$129.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades, but more lighter lines. Not all the usual buyers operated fully. Heavy sheep sold $10 easier and more in places. Light and medium sheep prices were $2-$8 easier. Restockers paid from $74-$86 for some big runs of Merino wethers. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $26-$68. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $42-$85, or 210-350c/kg, with Merino mutton averaging around 310c/kg cwt. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $53-$98. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $76-$95 and the medium weights made $66-$85, averaging around 310c/kg.
Dublin’s trade lambs ease $3-$5
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7963 lambs, 2661 more than last week, and 3000 sheep, 724 more.
The very mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to fluctuating demand from the usual trade and processor buyers, with sporadic bidding from a supermarket operator. Feeders and restockers were again active and despite solid bidding, prices eased for crossbreds and Merinos.
Ultra-light weight crossbreds attracted robust bidding from feeders, lifting $12 to up to $56. Light weight 2 scores eased $4 to $64-$92 and trade weights-feeders eased $3 to $88-$110. Light weight 3 score crossbreds sold to trade buyers eased $5 to $96-$106, averaging 488c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores eased $3 to $109-$123, averaging 511c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted marginally, to $115-$145 and averaged 524c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $5 to $140-$165, to average 545c/kg. Light weight Merino lambs were plentiful and sold to restockers and feeders for $52-$90. Those sold to processors made $90-$100. Trade weight lambs eased $6 to $96-$110 and averaged 445c/kg. The few heavy weights yarded sold from $110-$117 to average 451c/kg.
The very mixed quality yarding of sheep sold to easing processor demand. Restockers paid $75 for Merino ewes and $60 for crossbreds. Light weight 2 score ewes sold to processors eased $6 to $55-$70, averaging 260c/kg. Heavy weight 3 scores eased $4 to $65-$88 to average 253c/kg. Heavy weight wethers lifted $6 to $90-$100 to average 307c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold to processors for $40-$70. Restockers paid $100 for rams.
Naracoorte’s trade lambs back $5
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3321 lambs, 3151 fewer than last week, and 2007 sheep, 121 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said a much smaller number of trade, processor and restocker buyers attended and some were not fully active on the very mixed quality offering. There were more shorn lambs, but very few lambs with any weight. Prices fluctuated across the market.
Light lambs sold to the trade for $68-$105. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score types made to $102, $5-$10 dearer than last week. Restocking orders were strong and purchased lambs to turn out for mainly $80-$111, up $5-$10. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $112-$119 at an average of 490c/kg cwt, back $5. There were very few heavy 4 score lambs and they ranged from $116-$135 to be $6-$8 cheaper.
Light weight ewes ranged from $30-$59 and medium weights made $59-$77, to be $3 dearer and average 300c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes ranged from $76-$92, up to $6 dearer. Rams sold to $53.
Muchea’s trade lambs marginally cheaper
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4900 lambs, 1140 more than last week, and 7696 sheep, 1496 more.
The NLRS said dry conditions are impacting water supplies and feed. Ewe mutton was the largest category, with crossbred lamb numbers again solid. Quality improved on last week, with some very good lines of heavy weight ewes and reasonable numbers of prime lambs available. All buyers were operating and there was mixed activity, with prices lifting as the sale progressed after appearing cheaper at the start.
Light store lambs sold restockers for $40-$65, up $3-$4. Light lambs sold to processors and feeders made $60-$90 to be firm to $5 dearer. Trade weight lambs made $80-$118, or 460-550c/kg cwt, to be marginally cheaper overall. Heavy lambs sold to a top of $127.50 and were firm to $3 dearer.
Ewe mutton prices improved, with light weight drafts making $22-$54 to be up to $7 dearer. The 2 score medium weight processor mutton made $51-$61 to be $3 dearer. Better conditioned and heavy weight drafts sold from $58-$75.50 to be close to $2 dearer at around 260c/kg cwt. Restockers purchased mostly store conditioned mature ewes for $35-$65. Some heavier drafts with big skins made $75-$96 to remain firm. Young ewes made $45-$80, with the dearer drafts having close to full wool.
Competition for wethers was strong among live exporters and export feeders. Heavy export wethers made $91-$98 and lighter drafts $80-$97. Feeders picked up suitable drafts for $65-$105, with the top-priced wethers carrying skins worth up to $25. Old rams sold from $5-$35 and young drafts, including ram lambs, made $40-$98.
Northern Tasmanian yardings dominated by store lambs
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2350 lambs, 100 more than last week, and 2250 sheep, 300 more.
The NLRS said the lamb offering was dominated by a large number of store lambs, with few heavy and extra heavy pens available at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday. An estimated 64pc of the lambs were bought by local and interstate restockers.
Restockers bought very small lambs for $32-$53, light weights from $55-$86 and light trade for $81-$92. Exporters paid $58-$81 for light lambs and light trade lambs sold for $83-$92. Trade lambs made $91-$120, heavy lambs $117-$129 and extra heavy lambs $130-$133.
The good selection of mutton generally sold $3-$6 cheaper, apart for good quality medium weights. Not all exporters operated as Christmas loomed and shipping across Bass Straight is at capacity. Very light sheep made $28-$41, light weights $32-$55, medium weights $47-$73 and heavy ewes $50-$80.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.