AGENTS are expecting strong demand for Merino ewes at the coming Hay Annual September Sheep Sale from 11am this Friday.
Nutrien Hay Geoff McDougall expected prices on Friday might be up to $20 better than the recent Hillston sale prices where maiden ewes made up to $370.
The agents have advertised 23,000 sheep for the sale, including about 17,400 2021 drop Merino ewes, 3600 2019 drop and older Merino ewes, plus 2020 drop ewes, ewe lambs and 2021 drop Dohne ewe lambs.
Mr McDougall said although the sale’s offering is down on previous years, vendor lines not ready for sale will be held off for an October sale.
He said the ewes to be sold on Friday were in good condition, with maiden ewes around 60kg liveweight and the 5.5 year-old ewes in the 70kg lwt bracket.
“There are ideal conditions for sheep here at the moment.”
Mr McDougall said Merino wether lambs have been selling well recently at lievweight prices of $3/kg-plus. Many went to lot feeders, helped by the current handy wool prices.
“People still see skin value in buying Merino lambs and putting them into a feedlot, because you are still going to have a pretty hand by-product to pay a lot of costs.”
Mr McDougall believes wool values are also underpinning the Merino ewe price – with the Hillston sale range of $170-$370 comparing favourably to the Temora-West Wyalong first cross ewe sale range of $200-$400.
“I’m getting phone calls from buyers who are breeding their own first cross ewes rather than buying them, so they are buying Merino ewes, which is helping the Merino job a bit.”
Mr McDougall said the fewer older Merino ewes in the Hay sale reflected the lack of lamb numbers through the last drought.
“There were a couple of drops – around 2018 – there wasn’t a lot of lambs back then, and because of the lack of numbers some will hang onto their five year-olds for another year.
“The last few years around Hay there have been good lambings so that will flow on.”
Mr McDougall said the current ewe price has more to do with the mutton price coming back than any drop in lamb prices.
“Lambs are making what they were 3-4 years ago and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Elders Hay manager Andrew Low said there has been a lot of interest in the Hay sale lineup from traditional breeders “and the sheep are in very good fettle.”
“We’re probably not expecting the highs of last year, but we do expect the sale to be a lot more consistent all the way through, with the consistency in the weight in the sheep.
“There are a lot of sheep over 60kgs, and the rest are over 55kgs comfortably.”
He said the lower number of ewes in the sale reflected retention in flocks for breeding and also for later sale.
“We don’t have the volume of older ewes that we normally would have in Hay and that’s simply because we are holding an older age profile while we build numbers again.
“And obviously we’ve got a very good season in front of us and people are looking at those ewes and saying they are going to get a lamb out of those so are not offloading as many of the older ewes,” he said.
“We’re still working toward an October sale here at Hay so we should have a good yarding again in October.”
He said enquiry has come from the usual areas, including all of New South Wales and Victoria.
“People are keen to get in the car, especially from Victoria, and actually come to Hay … it’s very exciting to have a sale at Hay and have the Victorians come across after two years of not having it here.”
Mr Low said recent sales of young Merino ewes have been very strong.
“We expect to see a similar trend, we expect it to be a strong sale all the way through.”
Last year the sale topped at $512, with several sales of $400-plus, and Mr Low said prices were expected to range around the $300 mark with many probably in the $250-$320 range.
Sheep Central’s store stock specialist Murray Arnel will be covering the Hay sale and the Jerilderie John Wells Memorial sale on October 7, starting with a live preview on Facebook at Hay this Friday. Mr Arnel will also be continuing his sheep sale coverage at the Corowa Blue Ribbon First Cross Ewe Sale on October 24 and at Bendigo’s Blue Ribbon 1st Cross Ewe sale on November 4.
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