Supermarket Coles has struck the first blow setting forward lamb prices past February, with a minimum 5.80c/kg ex GST price for 18-25kg cwt lambs delivered late March-April to Brooklyn or Gundagai.
The contract is in the market as trade lamb prices averaged firm to slightly cheaper on quality across saleyards this week, despite prices lifting at some centres for the best quality lambs.
Meanwhile Coles’ and other domestic processors’ spot grid prices varied from 560c/kg-570c/kg for 18-25kg cwt lambs, this week.
Stock agents regard the Coles contract as an attempt to attract supply from the declining number of lambs in feedlots in the 18-25kg preferred weight range. However, agents and lot feeders reported this week that many of the finished lambs in feedlots or on crops were above or at the upper end of the contract’s weight range and prices of 540-580c/kg cwt offered little margin above feed costs for store lambs purchased at $90-$100.
The Coles forward contract stipulates the usual “upside” clause that if the supermarket’s weekly spot price is higher than 580c/kg cwt at the time of delivery, it will also pay half the difference between 580c/kg and the spot price.
The contract is for minimum lots of 150 pocket-crutched lambs sired by terminal rams, with a maximum wool length of five centimetres or shorn no more than 15 weeks before delivery. Seed contamination discounts from 20-100c/kg apply if more than one third of the consignment is affected.
Agents told of resistance in lamb export markets
Agents quoted exporter spot prices at 540c/kg-560c/kg cwt this week for 18-35kg cwt lambs, down about 20-40c/kg on prices two weeks ago, though there are indications some exporters are rallying to compete with the Coles forward price. The agents this week said exporters were claiming resistance from importers at current prices.
One agent said exporters told him they were unable to sell lamb at the current prices.
“They are telling me there is boxed lamb all over the place, as much as they have ever had on hand.”
Trade and heavy lamb indicators track slightly lower
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted most eastern states and national lamb indicators as lower after the first two days of saleyard sales this week, especially light and restocker lambs.
The lamb Eastern States Daily Indicators are: restocker 557c/kg cwt, down 10 cents; Merinos 495c/kg, up 1 cent; light 523c/kg, down 9 cents; trade 537c/kg, down 2 cents and heavy lambs 539c/kg, down 3 cents. The national trade lamb indicator was down 2 cents to 538c/kg cwt and the heavy lamb indice is on 540c/kg, also down 2 cents.
The mutton indicators improved early this week, with the ES indice up 3 cents to 373c/kg, and the national indicator up 2 cents to 372c/kg.
Over-the-hook lamb rates increase in NSW and Victoria
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook trade weight lamb rates were 9c/kg cwt dearer this week, reaching tops of 560c/kg cwt. Mutton rates were firm to slightly dearer, with medium weight carcases averaging 329c/kg cwt.
NSW’s grid rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 480-560c/kg, up 9 cents; 20-22kg, 520-560c/kg, up 9c; 22-24kg, 510-560c/kg, down 1c; 24-26kg+. 510-520c/kg, up 2c; Merinos 16-22kg, 400-480c/kg, no change. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-340c/kg, up 9c; 18-24kg, 280-360c/kg, nc; 24k+, 320-360c/kg, up 1c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates were mostly firm to slightly dearer week-on-week, with light and trade weight lambs lifting slightly. Mutton rates increased across all categories, with medium weight carcases averaging 335c/kg cwt.
Victoria’s grid rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 560-570c/kg, up 5c; 18-22kg, 560-570c/kg, up 3c; 22-24kg, 560-570c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 530c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 290-340c/kg, up 7c; 18-24kg, 320-350c/kg, up 5c; 24kg+, 310-340c/kg, up 7c. The
In SA, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates remained unchanged week-on-week, with trade weight lambs averaging 543c/kg cwt. Mutton rates lifted 3c/kg cwt across all categories.
SA’s grid rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530c/kg; 18-24kg, 530-570c/kg; 24-26kg+, 530c/kg; Merinos 490c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 210-320kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 270-320c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 310-350c/kg, up 3c.
In WA, the NLRS listed lamb and mutton rates as unchanged. WA’s grid rates for 2-4 score lambs were listed as: 16-18kg, 450-530c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-530c/kg; 22-26kg, 520c/kg; 26kg+, 470-530c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 400-480c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 230-240c/kg; 180-24kg, 240-280c/kg.
Tasmania’s over-the-hook lamb and sheep rates were quoted as unchanged by the NLRS this week. The grid rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 460-480c/kg; 16-18kg, 480-500c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-540c/kg; 22-26kg, 520-540c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 280-320c/kg; 14-18kg, 290-330kg; 18-24kg, 310-330c/kg; 24kg+, 300-330c/kg.
Trade lambs firm at Dubbo
In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 23,800 lambs, 10,640 more than last week, and 13530 sheep, 3460 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, but there were good runs of heavy trade and heavy weight lambs. Extra heavy weights were in short supply. Merino lambs were still in reasonable numbers. All the usual buyers operated in a market that held firm on light processing and trade lambs, but easier on heavy weights.
Light processing lambs sold from $65-$98. The medium and heavy trade weights ranged from $102-$126, for most to average 530c/kg cwt. Heavy weights were back $3-$4, from $120-$149, and extra heavy weights topped at $172, averaging 520c/kg cwt. Merino trades sold from $91-$115 for the heavy weights.
Sheep numbers lifted and quality was good. Plenty of well-covered sheep were offered. Medium weights met with strong competition, lifting $6, and the heavy weights gained $4. Medium weight Merinos sold from $74-$106 and heavy crossbreds reached $122. Most averaged 360c/kg-380c/kg cwt.
Prices change on quality at Tamworth
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2180 lambs, 540 fewer than last week, and 2100 sheep, 1036 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to good with more young lambs. The usual buyers attended and there was moderate restocker activity. Quality was a price variable in the young lambs suitable for restocking, with one particular order showing confidence and operating over a range of weight categories in the young lambs. There was not a lot of change in the market for the well finished trade or the export weight lambs. Some were slightly cheaper and quality also played a part in the price change.
The increased number of grown sheep consisted of some good lines of medium and light weight Merino ewes and wethers. For the most part, these sheep carried a third to full skin length. Again, market trends saw little but quality-related price change.
Bendigo’s best trade and heavy lambs up $2-$4
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 17,138 lambs, 4131 more than last week, and 6351 sheep, 1526 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the trade and heavy lambs was good, with more heavy lambs yarded. The usual buyers operated in a firm to dearer market.
The better-presented trade weight and heavy lambs sold $2-$4 up on last week’s levels. There was strong restocker, feeder and processor competition for the large numbers of light weight shorn lambs yarded, and they sold mostly from $80-$109.20, while the lighter lots sold from $59-$73.
Restockers also paid to $141 for 1st cross ewe lambs, and shorn Merino wethers returning to the paddock made $83.60. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $82-$92.20. Lighter trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $98-$125.60.
Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $122-$141, ranging from 520c/kg-580c/kg cwt, to average around 560c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $136-$165 to average around 530c to 540c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $162-$181.
The sheep offering included several good runs of Merino wethers and many heavy crossbred sheep. Sheep sold to strong competition, with most selling from $4-$8 up on last week. Some of the Merino wethers eased slightly on the high values of last week, but still returned close to 400c/kg cwt.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $55-$85. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $72-$108, and they ranged from 320c/kg-410c/kg cwt to average around 380c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $94-$130 and heavy crossbred wethers made $112-$125. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $92-$133 with the medium weights selling from $70-$109 at around 390c/kg-400c/kg cwt.
Ballarat lambs $2-$5 easier on quality
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,227 lambs, 10,091 more than last week, and 8785 sheep, 2156 fewer.
The NLRS said quality was good over the trade weight and heavy lambs, with the usual buyers operating in a slightly cheaper market. On quality, lambs were generally from $2-$5 easier on last week with the heavier lambs least-affected.
Large numbers of lighter lambs suitable for feeders, restockers and processors were yarded, and they sold mostly from $80.50-$117, with the lighter lots making $45-$70. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $65-$95. Lighter trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $86-$120. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $111-$143, and they ranged from 500c/kg-580c/kg cwt to average around 540c/kg cwt.
Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $136-$167 at around 540c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs made $168-$175.
Export lamb prices strengthening but “not firing”
TB White and Sons auctioneer Gerard White said heavy lamb prices lifted $3-$5, trade weights were fully firm and, light weights firm to $2-$3 dearer.
Charles Stewart and Co auctioneer Jamie McConachy said the light, trade and store lambs job was very good, and the market was through “that bit of a sticky patch” of the past few weeks.
“The export lambs don’t seem to have strengthened much, but certainly we are seeing better prices for the trade lambs.”
HF Richardson livestock manager at Ballarat Bernie Nevins said export and heavy trade lamb prices have recovered $3-$5, but lighter second trades, 18-19kg cwt, drier in the skin and not quite finished or a bit woolly, were $3-$4 cheaper. Light lambs were selling “unbelievable.”
“They are telling us they are having trouble selling it (export lamb) and locally it is a bit harder too.”
Elders livestock manager Graeme Nicholson said export lambs were certainly dearer than last week, but “still not firing”. He was also told exporters were finding it difficult to sell lamb.
“And they still know there is a fair few out there.”
Letting lambs get heavier in feedlots was “not necessarily the right thing to do,” he said.
“I have been taking a position of actually selling some and taking the money, depending on the client’s feed position.
“We always know that we get to a certain time toward the end of March where the weather changes – it might rain or get cold – and the lambs get stagnant and don’t do any good.”
He said Elders sold export lambs for $175 on Tuesday that were estimated at 31.5-32 kg dressed.
“The seconds made $172 and would have been 1.5kgs lighter.”
Good well-finished trade lambs were making 570-580c/kg cwt, he said.
“If they can get $120-$130 for their lambs and they breed them, take it.
“A bird in the hand is worth a fair few running around in the paddock.”
He said Coles had been finding it difficult to buy lambs of the right weight – many have been too heavy – though they bought suitable lambs “absolutely in the slot” (average 22-23kg cwt) at Ballarat on Tuesday.
Ballarat sheep sell firm to $5 dearer
Sheep quality at Ballarat was mixed with more lighter sheep yarded. Most ewe mutton sold to a dearer trend to be firm to $5 up on last week, while the wethers selling mostly firm.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep made $45-$90. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $63-$102 and ranged from 300c/kg-400c/kg cwt to average around 360c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $78-$114 and heavy crossbred wethers made $130. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $88-$118 and the medium weights made $62-$110 at 380c/kg cwt. A selection of Poll Dorset rams sold from $100-$340.
Forbes trade lambs firm to $3 easier on quality
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 27,100 lambs, 2250 fewer than last week, and 8700 sheep, 1850 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed with good numbers of finished lambs available along with an increased percentage of lambs showing signs of dryness. The usual buyers competed in a market that was firm, but fluctuated on quality.
Light lambs eased $1, selling from $91-$100. Trade weights were firm to $3 easier dependant on quality. Prices ranged from $102-$126. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs held fairly firm. Heavy lambs sold from $127-$140 and extra heavy weight lambs made $138-$187. Carcase prices averaged from 520c/kg-561c/kg cwt.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality improved. Prices lifted $5-$7. Merino ewes sold from $78-$116. Crossbred ewes ranged from $76-$120. Dorper ewes sold from $74-$100. Merino wethers made $106-$132.
Good lambs dearer at Inverell
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2180 lambs, 540 fewer than last week, and 2100 sheep, 1036 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to good with an even spread of crossbred and Dorpers. There were supplies of trade and heavy weight lambs, with restockers also well catered for.
Market trends varied through the lambs, with the good quality store lambs selling to restockers on a dearer trend. The best of the heavy trade and Dorper lambs remained firm. Medium weight trade lambs sold to a slightly dearer trend. Heavy weight lambs sold to a slightly cheaper trend taking weight variations into account.
It was a fair to good quality penning of grown sheep that included some good lines of both ewes and wethers. There were also a number of pens of young Merino ewes that attracted the attention of both processor and restocker orders. Market trends were generally dearer.
Dublin’s heavy trade and export lamb prices ease $4-$6
On Tuesday in the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin, the agents yarded 9790 crossbred and Merino lambs, 1072 fewer than last week, and 2508 sheep, 133 less.
The NLRS said the generally very good quality yarding of lambs sold to fluctuating demand from the usual trade and processor buyers, although one processor didn’t operate. Feeders and restockers from the Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and Mid North continue to bid keenly on suitable light weight late 2014-drop crossbreds.
Light weight 2 score crossbred lambs sold to feeders at prices up to $20 dearer, ranging from $105-$113, while 3 score light weights making to $108. Light weight 4 score crossbreds sold to trade buyers from $115-$120, up $3/head, to average 573c/kg cwt. Lighter trade weight 4 scores lifted up to $6, selling from $113-$128, to average 537c/kg cwt. Heavier 4 score trade weights were plentiful and they remained unchanged, selling from $120-$134, averaging 503c/kg cwt.
Heavy weight 4 score lambs eased up to $6, selling from $125-$164 and returned 509c/kg-515c/kg cwt. Extra heavy weights sold from $150-$154.
Light weight Merino lambs sold to restockers and feeders for $50-$80 and trade weights made $100-$118, averaging 463c/kg cwt. The heavy weight Merino lambs eased $7, selling from $115-$125 or 433c/kg-456c/kg cwt. Heavy weight Merino hoggets eased $6, selling from $85-$113 and crossbreds made $99-$116.
The mixed quality sheep yarding sold to solid processor bidding. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $3, selling from $55-$69, to average 293c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes eased very marginally, selling from $74-$97, to average 300c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers were scarce, but eased $2 selling from $87-$103, to average 321c/kg cwt. Heavy weight rams sold from $68-$103.
Naracoorte’s heavy lambs firm to cheaper
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3386 lambs, 379 fewer than last week, and 1360 sheep, 73 more.
The NLRS said the usual trade and processors were active and restockers bid on lighter weight lambs.
The light lambs were dearer and the heavier lambs were firm to slightly cheaper. Light weight lambs to the trade ranged from $48-$102, while those to restockers ranged from $40-$102 and up to $4 dearer. A number of pens of Merino lambs sold from $74-$93, while lighter trade 2 and 3 score lambs ranged from $99-$106. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $105-$120 at an average of 530c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs mainly ranged from $128-$144, to be up to $2 easier. Lightweight hoggets ranged from $45-$69, with the heavier selection making $90-$101.
Sheep prices were firm, with most being medium weight 2 and 3 scores. Crossbreds ranged from $86-$91, while Merinos sold from $68-$91, at an average of 350c/kg cwt, to be firm. Heavy 3 and 4 score crossbred ewes ranged from $94-$108 and Merinos made $93-$111. Several pens of Merino wethers were offered, with the heavier types ranging from $93-$102. Rams ranged from $32-$68.
Muchea trade lambs up $3-$5
In WA at Muchea, the agents yarded 5408 lambs, 538 more than last week, and 3426 sheep, 974 fewer.
The NLRS said quality was plain with only a moderate number of prime lamb drafts and more store and light weight lambs.
Competition remained solid from a full field of buyers and the limited supply of prime drafts lifted in price, with prime trade lamb prices improving $3-$5. The better store lambs also lifted. Very light store lambs were mostly Merino drafts and made $25-$72, $5 dearer than last week. Light lambs, 17kg cwt and under, sold to processors, restockers and live export buyers for $55-$99 to be $5-$10 dearer. Trade lambs, 18-22kg cwt, lifted $3-$5, with most sales from $98-$128. The better drafts averaged 560c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs, 22kg cwt and over, sold from $105-$130, to average about 540c/kg cwt. These remained firm on last week’s rates
There were only moderate numbers of heavy ewes. Ewe mutton prices were up to $6 dearer than last week. Light ewes sold mostly to restockers at $10-$55, to be firm. The 2 score processor mutton made from $42-$72, to finish firm. The better 3 and 4 score mutton sold from $68-$90, to be $5-$10 dearer and close to 290c/kg cwt.
Wether prices were solid, driven by live export demand. Better export wethers sold from $75-$95 to remain firm and the store drafts made $75-$90. Rams again met solid competition, with ram lambs making $70-$90 and the young drafts sold to live export buyers and feeders for $41-$56. Old rams made $25-$45 to processors.