Domestic Lamb

Slaughter lamb prices firm as mutton lifts to 480c/kg

Sheep Central, April 29, 2015
These January-shorn 19.4kg cwt first cross wether lambs sold for $112.50 at Yass, NSW, on AuctionsPlus this week.

These January-shorn 19.4kg cwt first cross wether lambs sold for $112.50 at Yass, NSW, on AuctionsPlus this week.

Quality trade and heavy lamb prices were generally firm to slightly dearer in saleyards early this week, but rates fluctuated in major saleyard markets in NSW and Victoria with increased quality selections.

This contrasted with a mostly dearer market for mutton, with processors now consistently paying over 400c/kg cwt and prices peaking at Ballarat where medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $63-$110 or from 320-480c/kg cwt.

Lamb supply to be a challenge

Landmark national livestock director Mark Barton said the lamb market was entering that time of the year when old lamb supplies tighten before new season lambs come onto the market.

“I think (lamb) supply is going to become a challenge over the next quarter.”

He said there has been a flush of lambs due to dry conditions, in southern Victoria and NSW, but the likelihood of buyers pegging prices back any further was becoming limited.

Mr Barton is expecting to see more forward contracts in the market over coming weeks with processors looking to lock up supplies for the next three months.

“We would be optimistic that there will be another run of forward supply opportunities for people who are confident, with the break in the season, of finishing old lambs before the new season.”

Mr Barton said there would be an ongoing shortage of sheep, partially due to the fewer ewe and wether flocks being run for wool.

“I think there will be a continued push from the WA exporters that are going to have to continue to come east – particularly to south eastern Australia – for export numbers.

“The WA flock simply can’t meet demand.”

There might be even more upside in mutton prices, he said.

“I believe so – I think it is a commodity that has a stable outlook in the medium term, simply based on the shortage of supplies and the continued push from the slaughter and live trades.

“I would have said 500c/kg was a pipe-dream 12 months ago, but I wouldn’t say it now.”

NLRS slaughter lamb indicators firm

The National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for slaughter lambs were quoted unchanged after Tuesday’s saleyard sales were completed.

The ESDIs for lambs are: restocker, 529c/kg, up 1 cent; Merino 501c/kg, down 8c; light 537c/kg, down 4c; trade 558c/kg, no change; heavy 560c/kg, no change. The national trade lamb indicator is up two cents to 562c/kg and the heavy indice is down one cent to 561c/kg.

The ESDI and national indicator for mutton were down two cents to 398c/kg and 397c/kg.

Over-the-hook lamb rates lift

In the NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb and mutton rates moved higher this week across all categories after last week’s higher saleyard prices, due to tighter supply and recent rainfall.

NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 510-570c/kg, up 6 cents; 20-22kg, 520-570c/kg, up 6c; 22-24kg, 500-570c/kg, up 7c; 24-26kg, 500-550c/kg, up 6c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450-530c/kg, up 8c. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 260-340c/kg, up 10c; 18-24kg, 290-370c/kg, up 9c; 24kg+, 320-370c/kg, up 9c.

In Victoria, the NLRS said most contributors made upward adjustments to over-the-hook lamb rates this week, although Merino lamb rates remained unchanged. Mutton rates were higher week-on-week, with medium weight carcases averaging 348c/kg cwt

Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540-560c/kg, up 15c; 18-22kg, 540-570c/kg, up 13c; 22-24kg, 560-570c/kg, up 13c; 24-26kg, 530-560c/kg, up 15c; 26kg+, 530c/kg, up 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 310-350c/kg, up 13c; 18-24kg, 320-360c/kg, up 18c; 24kg+, 320-350c/kg, up 17c.

In SA, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight over-the-hook lamb rates edged higher this week, while light weight and Merino lamb rates remained unchanged. Mutton rates were 8c/kg cwt higher on average across all categories.

SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 540-570c/kg, up 3c; 24-26kg+, 530-540c/kg, up 3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 520c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 260-320c/kg, up 8c; 18-24kg, 320-380c/kg, up 8c.

In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted light slaughter lamb over-the-hook rates as up 10c/kg, and mutton rates up 10-20c/kg.

Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 470-490c/kg, up 10c; 16-18kg, 480-520c/kg, up 10c; 18-22kg, 510-540c/kg, nc; 22-26kg, 520-540c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 520-530c/kg, down 5c. The 2-3 score mutton rates are: 0-14kg, 280-320c/kg, up 20c; 14-18kg, 300-340c/kg, up 10c; 18-24kg, 320-340c/kg, up 10c.

Western Australia’s OTH rates were not available when this article was published.

Trade lambs at Dubbo firm to $3 dearer

In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,880 lambs, 2240 fewer than last week, and 8700 sheep, 3140 more.

The NLRS said it was a plainer quality yarding with limited numbers of ideal trade lambs and heavy weights. A large percentage of the yarding was lightweight lambs. Lightweight lambs were firm to $2 cheaper with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $70-$94. Trade lambs were firm to $3 dearer with 18-22kg 3 scores making $92-$127.

Heavy weight lambs were $2-$3 dearer with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $122-$189, to average 558c/kg cwt. Merino lambs were firm with the trade weights selling from $85-$118, while the heavier weights sold to $129. Restocker lambs were $5 dearer at $52-$114 and hoggets sold to $121.

Lightweight sheep made up a large percentage of a plainer quality yarding. All grades were $5-$8 cheaper than last week. The 2 score ewes sold from $32-$88, while the better 3 and 4 score ewes made $80-$126 for Merinos and to $149 for Samm cross ewes. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $84-$125.

Tamworth heavy lambs up $6

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3250 lambs, 750 more than last week, and 960 sheep, 390 fewer.

The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to good, highlighted by a large offering of heavy weights. Demand was high for all classes from the usual buyers and dearer trends were seen in all classes.

Restockers were active, well-catered for and paid up to $2 more than last week. Well-finished trade weights were $6-$8 dearer under solid competition. Secondary quality trade weights also sold to a dearer trend. The quality of the heavy weight lambs contributed to some strong price gains, with the market trend dearer by $6. The top price increased by $13 for better quality lambs than the previous sale. The small penning of sheep also sold to a dearer trend, up by $3-$9.

Forbes’ lamb prices firm

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 21,880 lambs, 12,289 more than last week, and 2650 sheep, 522 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was again very mixed, with some good runs of well-finished heavy and extra heavy weight lambs penned with the plainer types. Most lambs were heavy and extra heavy weights, while trade weights were in limited supply. The usual buyers competed in a fairly steady market.

Light lambs held firm, selling from $90-$105. Trade weights were also fairly steady, with prices ranging from $105-$138. Heavy lambs sold from $128-$146. Extra heavy weights made from $142-$202. Carcase prices ranged from 530-571c/kg cwt. Merino lambs sold to strong demand from $88- $139.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was very mixed. Prices eased, with Merino ewes selling from $78-$122. Crossbred ewes sold from $88-$115 and Dorper ewes sold from $83-$104. Merino wethers made $74-$128.

Inverell sheep lift $15

At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1375 lambs, 766 fewer than last week, and 1408 sheep, 341 more.

The NLRS said there was a good supply of trade weight and heavy lambs, along with a fair number of light weights. Quality was fairly good with most lambs well-finished.

Competition was much stronger with the market $10 dearer and more in places. Restockers were active in the market and helped push light lamb prices up. The small penning of hoggets attracted keen demand.

The yarding of mutton included pens of heavy ewes and wethers, with several lines in full wool. Most sheep sold $15 dearer and more in places.

Bendigo sheep average over 400c/kg

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 11,091 lambs, 1508 more than last week, and 5872 sheep, 820 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with fewer heavy weights than last week. The usual buyers attended, but not all operated at capacity. The market generally showed a dearer trend, although price gains varied across weight and grade categories.

Lambs sold to a top of $177 for a pen of extra heavy weights for export, but overall there was little price change for heavy lambs, with only about a dozen pens making above $160. Recording the best price gains were shorter-skinned trade lambs that had been supplementary fed, and lightweight lambs sold for MK slaughter orders or to restockers.

Processor demand for light weight slaughter lambs was high, with most sales from $94-$105. This competition led to restockers securing only limited numbers. Bidding for domestic lambs favoured supplementary-fed shorter-skinned types. The lead runs of domestic lambs, suiting supermarket orders, sold from $128-$141 at an estimated range of 550-580c/kg cwt for most. Some pens of ideally weighted and finished 22kg cwt lambs sold for up to $134, or over 580c/kg. The general run of 20-22kg cwt lambs sold from $108-$122, depending on breed quality and finish.

The heavy export lambs were generally of a plainer standard this week and only two pens sold for more than $170. Most heavy lambs, over 26kg cwt, sold from $142-$166, averaging around 545c/kg.

The sheep market was again a highlight with quality Merinos reaching a top of $130 and averaging over 400c/kg cwt. The offering had fewer heavy crossbred ewes than recent sales, but a better selection of Merino wethers, that sold to a top of $130. Mutton prices were mostly another $4-$10 dearer, with the main lines of Merino ewes and wethers averaging over 400c/kg.

Ballarat lamb prices ease, mutton surges over 400c/kg

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,286 lambs, 5775 more than last week, and 12,296 sheep, 2696 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was again very good with an excellent selection of trade weight and heavy lambs. The usual buyers did not compete as strongly this week, with heavy lambs easing to $5 and trade weights selling firm to a few dollars easier. Lighter lambs suitable for processors, feeders and restockers sold to strong competition with an extra order from NSW. Restocker lambs sold mostly from $92.50-$119, with lambs to processors averaging around 570-580c/kg cwt. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $88-$111. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $108-$122. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $115-$128.60 and the heavier drafts made $124-$143, to average around 555c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $137-$166 and they averaged around 540c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $169-$185.

The sheep penning included all weights and grades, but with more light lines. Some extra processor competition competed keenly on the wethers. The ewe mutton made around last week’s levels, with the wethers selling firm to $10 easier in places. Restockers paid from $70-$85 for Merino ewes. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $47-$95. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $63-$110 or from 320-480c/kg cwt, with the Merinos averaging around 430c/kg and the crossbreds about 380c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $88-$130, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $99-$130 and the medium weights making $75-$120 at around 415-420c/kg.

Lamb prices ease at Dublin

At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 11,000 lambs, 1062 more than last week, and 2500 sheep, 717 more.

The NLRS said the generally good quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to solid competition from the usual trade and processor buyers, with an additional Victorian operator. Feeders were active on heavier crossbreds and restockers bid freely on light weight Merinos.

Crossbred 3 score lambs sold to feeders for up to $101. Light weight 3 scores to trade buyers eased very marginally to $95-$106 and averaged 493c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted slightly, selling from $110-$129 to average 522c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores eased $5, to $110-$138, averaging 517c/kg. Heavy weights eased $2-$9, to generally sell from $140-$175 or 515-537c/kg. Extreme heavy weights sold from $172-$180. Light weight Merinos sold to restockers for $55-$80, trade weight 3 scores eased marginally to $90-$99 and heavy weights made $105-$128, or 452-465c/kg. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $90-$114 and crossbreds made $114-$132.

The sheep sold to fluctuating competition from trade and processor buyers. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $55-$85, or 289c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes remained unchanged, selling from $85-$110 to average 316c/kg. Heavy weight crossbred ewes sold from $110-$118. Heavy weight wethers were scarce and sold from $92-$110 to average 373c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $94-$110.

Naracoorte trade lambs in demand

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2706 lambs, 495 fewer than last week, and 1378 sheep, 408 less.

The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers competed stronger on the lighter lambs with the addition of an extra restocker order. Prices were generally dearer across the market.

Lightweight lambs sold to the trade from $68-$100, with lightweight trade 2 and 3 score types making $82-$111 to be $6 dearer. Restockers paid from $49-$103, resulting in prices lifting $4. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $112-$132, up $5 and around 550c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $126-$172, bucking the positive trend to fall by $8-$10.

Wethers sold from $72-$91. Lightweight 1 and 2 score ewes lifted $3 to mainly ranged from $65-$86. Medium weighted ewes lifted $5 to $75-$106 and an average of 400c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes ranged from $94-$118 and the best rams sold from $75-$85.

Muchea lambs $4-$6 dearer

In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5828 lambs, 1342 fewer than last week, and 5700 sheep, 982 less.

The NLRS said trade lamb numbers were reasonable but there were fewer drafts in prime condition. There were fewer light and store lambs, and limited numbers of wethers. The usual buyers were active and live exporter competition helped lift prices. All categories saw a lift in prices, with lambs mostly $4-$6 dearer.

Light store lambs sold from $20-$65, with light lamb to feeders, air freight and local processors making $60-$103, up $3. Trade lambs made $95-$129, up $5-$8. Heavier lambs sold to a top of $134 and remained firm.

Ewes also lifted marginally, with prices from firm to $5 dearer. Ewe supplies remained strong, however there was a decline in quality, with very few heavy weight drafts available. Ewe prices moved higher with light ewes from $38-$65. The 2 score ewes to processors made $64-$90 and were firm at 340c/kg cwt. Better conditioned ewes, including the heavy weight drafts, made $78-$105 and were up to $5 dearer. Wether prices were driven by live export and feeder competition to be $5 dearer. Heavy wethers made $90-$128, with better conditioned medium weights from $85-$114. Store and lighter weight wethers lifted in price by up to $7 and most sold from $60-$95. Rams continued to sell well, with better ram lambs making $80-$117 and young rams to live export or feeders made $50-$88. Old rams sold to processors for $30-$77.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.

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