SLAUGHTER lamb prices were generally firm to dearer in saleyards mid-week, lifting in all eastern states markets except at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales due to quality.
Most saleyards increased their lamb offerings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and with Cootamundra and Ouyen putting an extra 17,000 lambs on the market this week, processor buyers were selective in some markets.
At Wagga Wagga on Thursday, The National Livestock Reporting Service said light processing lamb prices eased $1 and trade weights were back $2-$4. Heavy lamb prices eased $4-$6, mostly due to large drafts of lambs lacking finish.
After Wednesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Lamb Indicators rose for all lamb categories except heavy lambs. Restocking lambs registered the biggest gain, jumping 10c/kg cwt on Thursday. The ESDI lamb rates are: restocker 626c/kg, up 10 cents; Merinos 566c/kg, up 2c; light 588c/kg, up 4c; trade 593c/kg, up 1c, and heavy 603c/kg, down 2c. The national trade lamb indicator finished the week on 590c/kg and the heavy indice was on 506c/kg.
The national indicator and ESDI for mutton both finished firm on 385c/kg.
Autumn trade lamb indicators below 2015 levels
Meat and Livestock Australia said the National Trade Lamb Indicator has averaged 527c/kg during autumn this year, 2 percent lower year-on-year. However, it remained 3pc above the five-year average of 514c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs eased 3pc to 525c/kg, and light lambs averaged 519c/kg cwt, down only 1pc on year-ago levels. Restocker/feeder lambs lost 7pc year-on-year at 484c/kg. Merino lambs out-performed all indicators – up 7pc to average 514c/kg cwt for the March to May period.
MLA said underpinning the slightly lower prices was the higher lamb saleyard turn-off for the season, with average weekly yardings hovering around 34,293 head – 6pc higher than the same time last year.
“Autumn 2016 was the warmest autumn on record, and the prolonged warm and dry conditions saw market confidence falter early in the season.
“A late seasonal change saw great regional variation in rainfall, however most of the key lamb producing areas received average rainfall for the season overall,” MLA said.
In autumn, eastern states average weekly lamb slaughter was similar year-on-year, at 360,646 head. However, this was still 11pc higher than the five-year average for the period. A surge in slaughter levels in May did little to affect rising prices driven by the rain, MLA said.
“The June to August rainfall outlook points towards a wetter than average winter across most of the mainland, which, in conjunction with anticipated tighter lamb availability and solid forward contracts put out in May for winter delivery, will likely support saleyard prices through the winter months.”
Carcoar’s heavy lambs $4-$7 dearer
In New South Wales at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar on Wednesday, the agents yarded 11,250 lambs, 3450 more than last week, and 2000 sheep, 100 more.
The NLRS said the very mixed yarding comprised a fair selection of trade and heavy weight lambs and a large percentage of light weight stores. Light weight lambs sold $5 dearer to processors, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $60-$115. Trade lambs were $3-$4 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores making $108-$159, to average 605c/kg cwt. The heavy weight lambs were $4-$7 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $143-$200, to average 613c/kg. Store lambs were firm, with light lambs making from $24, up to $127 for lambs in forward condition. Hoggets sold to $141.
The mixed quality yarding of sheep had only odd prime pens. Most grades finished $3-$5 dearer, with the 2 score ewes selling from $30-$72. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos sold from $75-$115 and the crossbreds made to $132. Merino wethers sold to $114.
Cootamundra’s trade lambs lift $9-$12
At the Cootamundra saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6700 lambs, 3155 more than two weeks ago, and 3800 sheep, 2794 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved. There were fewer store lambs and more trade and heavy lambs coming off crops. Most were heavy trade weights and there was a good number of heavy weights. All the usual buyers operated in the dearer market.
Restocking lambs sold from $30 for very light weights up to $121.60 for trade weights going onto crops. Trade lambs were mostly $9-$12 dearer, with the medium and heavy weights making $115-$150, or 595-625c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs gained $7-$9 to $147-$168. Extra heavy lambs sold to $175 and averaged 575-600c/kg. The best of the hoggets made $149.20.
Sheep quality varied, and the better covered lines were more sought, with prices lifting $15-$20. Medium weight ewes sold from $72-$105. Heavy Merino ewes made $127-$159 and wethers made to $149.
Wagga’s trade and heavy lamb prices ease on quality
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 41,850 lambs, 1850 more than last week, and 10,750 sheep, 1650 more.
The NLRS said overall lamb quality was back a little. Store lambs were still in good numbers and there were plenty of well-finished supplementary-fed trade and heavy weights. Most were trade and heavy lambs. All the usual buyers operated in the slightly cheaper market.
The better restocking lambs sold from $80-$115. Light processing lambs eased $1, with the 2 scores selling from $78-$119. Trade weights were back $2-$4, with the medium and heavy trade weights making $116-$153, to average 595-610c/kg. Heavy lambs eased $4-$6, mostly due to large drafts of lambs lacking finish. Prices ranged from $138-$174, with extra heavy lambs making to $228. Most of these lambs made 580-600c/kg. The best of the heavy Merinos sold to $170.
Sheep quality was good, with plenty of competition on heavy sheep with a longer skin. Prices were back by $4-$5, with the medium weight ewes making $71-$120. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $118-$155 and crossbred ewes made to $183.20. Most averaged 400-420c/kg.
Hamilton’s heavy lamb up to $5 dearer
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7201 lambs, 1317 more than last week, and 5967 sheep, 1149 more.
The NLRS said it was a very good to average yarding attended by the regular buyers. The market remained steady.
Most prices for light and medium trade weight lambs fluctuated to end up firm, while the better finished 4 score heavy lambs were up to $5 dearer. Restockers from South Australia paid $42-$86 for light weight 1 score lambs and $80-$108 for better conditioned store lambs. Light weight 2 score lambs sold to processors for $79-$106 and light trade 2 and 3 scores made $100-$120. Medium weight 3-4 scores sold from $110-$150, or 541-646c/kg, to average an estimated 605c/kg. Heavier trade drafts of 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $160-$172. Heavy export lambs made $163-$225 for an estimated average of 595c/kg cwt.
Prices varied for the mixed quality sheep offering, with medium mutton $2-$5 dearer, generally on the Merino mutton. Light weights were $2-$3 cheaper and heavy weights were unchanged. The light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $49-$76 and the medium 2 and 3 scores made $79-$99. The Merino mutton averaged close to 385c/kg and the heavier crossbreds made $93-$125, to average 355c/kg. Medium Merino wethers made $76-$95 and heavier drafts sold from $110-$130, averaging close to 400c/kg. Rams of all breeds sold from $84-$106.
Horsham lambs sell to $205
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7748 lambs, 3349 more than last week, and 480 sheep, 1207 fewer.
The NLRS said the lamb yarding included about 1700 Merinos and quality was good. The usual buyers operating keenly in the generally firm market, with lambs selling a few dollars either side of firm.
Heavy lambs sold to $205 and heavier trade weight lambs made $138-$156, averaging around 600c/kg cwt. Near-full wool heavy Merino lambs sold to $170 and medium weights made $113-$142, averaging 540-550c/kg. Restockers paid from $116-$125 and $112 for a pen of well grown shorn Merino ewe lambs.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $84-$100.50. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $91-$134 and averaged around 610c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $128-$142, with the heavier drafts selling from $138-$156 and they ranged from 575c-635c-average around 610c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $155-$192 and extra heavy lambs made $196-$205. Heavy Merino lambs sold from $128-$170, medium weights made $95-$142 and the lighter drafts sold to $106.
The sheep sold to keen competition at around last week’s levels, with heavier crossbreds a little dearer. Heavy Merino ewes near full wool, sold to $138.50. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $43-$93. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $84-$115, or 365-450c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 400c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $100-$126, with heavy Merino ewes making $135-$138.50.
Ouyen lambs up to $10 dearer
At the Ouyen Livestock Exchange on Thursday, the agents offered 6822 lambs and 1509 sheep.
Well-finished lambs sold up to $10 dearer than at the last sale two weeks ago, heavy sheep were firm and lighter mutton sold $4-$6 dearer.
Crossbred export lambs sold for $150-$220, or 590-610c/kg cwt, trade weights made $113-$159, or 580-620c/kg, and store lambs sold from $14-$111.60. Light Merino lambs sold from $73-$136 and heavy lines made $122- $172.20, or 540-570c/kg.
Light sheep sold from $54-$95, or 380-400c/kg, and heavy lines made $80-$130, 340-400c/kg.
Katanning prices strong
In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6015 lambs, 15 more than last week, and 4000 sheep, 364 more.
The NLRS said prices strong for all categories in the mixed quality yarding due to high demand from buyers.
Light weight lambs sold from $44-$92 and Merino lambs made $67-$86. Trade weight lambs were dearer, selling from $95-$118. Merino trade weight lambs made $90-$95.
Heavy weight lambs sold from $123-$126. Light crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $54 and the better quality lines made up to $126. Light Merino store lambs sold from $47 and the heavier better framed types made to $70.
Young Merino red tag ewes sold to processors for $60-$91 depending on size and restockers paid to $73. Mutton was in strong demand, with light ewes with a full fleece selling from $61-$80. Boners with a fleece made $45-$80. Heavier prime 3 score mutton sold from $72-$102.
Young wethers sold for $73-$90 to processors, depending on weight, and feeder buyers paid $47-$82, depending on frame and quality. Older wethers sold for $70-$93 to restockers and feeders, and processors paid to $90. Shipping wethers sold for $76-$125. Ram lambs sold for $72-$97 to live exporters and for $76 to processors. Older rams sold to processors for $5-$20.
Warwick’s heavy lambs firm to dearer
In Queensland at the Warwick saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1912 lambs and hoggets, and 1283 sheep.
The market was quoted as firm to a shade dearer for the heavier lambs and firm on all other descriptions within the similar yarding of lambs and a larger yarding of sheep. The top-priced 55.9kg lwt lambs made $162 for Roma producer Tanya Dawes of ‘Barr Park’.
Crossbred lambs weighing 51-55lg lwt sold from $132-$151, the 46-50kg lambs made $18-$149, 41-45kg lines sold for $122-$134 and 35-40kg lambs made $98-$115.
Shorn crossbred hoggets weighing 58.3kg lwt sold-$102. Trade wethers with $15 skins made-$110, or 320c/kg cwt, and light wethers with $4 skins sold-$64, or 315c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes with $15 skins sold-$108, or 320c/kg, and light ewes with $3 skins made-$56, or 290c/kg.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, Warwick Selling Agents, Ouyen Livestock Exchange.