The strength of Australia’s prime lamb market was highlighted mid-week with prices tipping 600c/kg at Wagga and holding firm at Hamilton in the face of the city’s largest yarding for the year.
Lamb prices in most saleyards mid-week regularly exceeded 520c/kg cwt for quality trade and heavy lambs and went above 300c/kg for sheep.
On Wednesday, Hamilton yarded 49,693 mostly good quality lambs, with rates for trade and heavy lambs starting back slightly, but finishing firm within a range of 465c/kg-540c/kg cwt.
Hamilton saleyard manager Chris Dahlenburg said this week was the city’s biggest for livestock this year – with about 94,000 sheep and lambs, 1500 cattle and 163 horses being sold.
Weighed Wagga lambs prove 600c/kg rates
At Wagga on Thursday, keen domestic and export processors bidding for top supplementary-fed shorn lambs pushed rates to new levels, with the NLRS summary sheet and report indicating trade and export weight lambs made 600c/kg cwt and more at times.
Landmark Wagga livestock manager Peter Cabot said he knew of at least one line of pre-weighed lambs that made 596c/kg cwt.
“The sale was very dear… there were lambs there making $6 dollar a kilogram and sheep were making well over $3 a kilogram (cwt).
“They were absolutely magnificent lambs – I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve never seen our lambs as good,” he said.
“Bernie Noonan has been here 50 years and he said ‘Mate, this is as good a run of lambs as we’ve had through here’.”
But Mr Cabot was cautious about drawing conclusions from the Wagga rates, because of the number of lambs already locked into forward contracts.
“The most I have ever sold lambs for is $6 a kilogram (cwt) in 20 years and I would be reluctant to think that we are going to keep getting that.
“There is no way known the bottom is going to fall out of it, but $6 a kilogram is the most I’ve ever sold them for and that’s what they were making yesterday,” he said.
“Our shorn lambs that were making $160 weren’t that heavy.
“We’ve sold plenty of lambs for $180-$190 and to $200 over the years, but they’ve all been 30-odd kilograms,” Mr Cabot said.
“These aren’t 30 kilogram lambs making this.”
He had lambs contracted to a supermarket for 530c/kg cwt, but the supermarkets were also paying producers “half the upside” if saleyard prices were better than the grid price.
“We’ve got plenty of lambs locked in at $5 – people took it.
“I think rates will remain at between $5-$6 a kilogram cwt.”
All NLRS lamb and mutton indicators lift
The National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Trade Lamb Indicator lifted three cents on Thursday to 516c/kg cwt and the heavy lamb indice jumped four cents to 527c/kg cwt. The ES restocker lamb indicator is firm on 512c/kg and the Merino lamb indice is at 449c/kg, up four cents.
The National Trade Lamb Indicator is at 517c/kg, up three cents and the heavy lamb indice is at 528c/kg, up four cents. The ES and national mutton indicators are at 317c/kg, up three cents.
Heavy trade lambs 535c/kg cwt at Carcoar
In NSW at Carcoar’s CTLX on Wednesday, the agents yarded 17,700 lambs, 600 fewer than last week, and 5850 sheep, 1980 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained good for trade and heavy lambs. There was a reasonable number of light secondary lambs but not as many as last week. There were good numbers of heavy trade and heavy lambs and most were new seasons. All the usual buyers operated in the dearer market.
Restocking lambs sold from $65-$105. The medium weight lambs ranged from $100-$109. The better supplied heavy trade weights ranged from $111-$128, averaging 535c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $122-$146. Extra heavy new season lambs made to $167 and old lambs to $177, to average 505c/kg.
Mutton numbers also eased and quality was very good. Ewes gained $4-$8, while a very good run of heavy wethers sold to a much stronger trend. Medium weight ewes ranged from $65-$85 and heavy weights made to $92. The large runs of Merino wethers topped at $110.50. Most averaged 320cc/kg-360c/kg.
Heavy lambs to 520c/kg at Goulburn
At the Goulburn saleyards on Wednesday, the agent yarded 2600 lambs, 300 fewer than last week, and 2400 sheep, 200 more.
The NLRS said most of the lambs were light and trade weight new season lines. There was also a handy selection of well-finished heavy weights, along with a few more shorn young lambs. Lambs dry in the skin or showing signs of seed infestations were discounted in a strong market where buyers favoured well-finished lots.
With a few extra orders in the market, prices lifted by around $6-$10, and more in places. Young lambs to restockers, 12-16kg cwt, made $66-$96, with heavier weights up to $100. Light processing lots, 16-18kg cwt, made $80-$103, while trade weights ranged from $92-$118. Heavy lambs made $116-$130 for most of the processing lots to average 470c/kg-520c/kg cwt. Light and trade weight Merino lambs returned $55-$85 to average 445c/kg-460c/kg cwt.
It was a similar mutton offering with most categories represented. Demand lifted and prices averaged $3-$6 dearer.
Light 2 score ewes made $48-$62, with medium and heavy weights from $62-$94. Heavy crossbred wethers reached $104 for most of the better-covered mutton to average 310c/kg-360c/kg cwt.
Quality shorn lambs boost Wagga prices to 600c/kg
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 28,000 lambs, 2000 fewer than last week, and 16,000 sheep, 4000 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with more trade lambs showing dryness and lacking finish. There were more supplementary-fed young shorn lambs, offering buyers weight and yield, which contributed to the dearer trend. The usual contingent of domestic and export buyers competed in a dearer market. Secondary lambs suitable to restock or feed were well-supplied and sold to strong local competition.
Bidding was strongest for well-finished shorn trade lambs, helping to lift prices $6. Light trade lambs to slaughter were keenly contested by major domestic processors, with the very neat lambs selling at 600c/kg cwt. Most of the better light trade lambs averaged $117.20. Medium and heavy trade lambs benefited from stronger demand from all buyers, selling $12 dearer to average 560c/kg-570c/kg cwt. Light immature lambs met with stronger competition from producers looking to accumulate lambs to place on stubbles. The plainer conditioned lambs made from $56-$75. Well-bred secondary lambs returning to the paddock averaged $85.80, while lambs to feed on topped at $107. Heavy export lambs were in reasonable supply and sold to stronger northern competition. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold from $138-$170.20 to average 548c/kg cwt.
Mutton quality was quite good. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were in reasonable supply, and prices were $5 dearer. Light sheep were in limited numbers and prices were mostly unchanged. Heavy sheep were well supplied and not all northern processor competed as strongly as the previous sale. Heavy crossbred ewes sold $10 dearer to average 310c/kg cwt. All weights and grades of wethers were represented and prices ranged from $60-$107.
Restockers were very selective with their purchases. Well-bred young ewes returning to the paddock made from $91-$121.60.
Hamilton’s heavy and trade lamb prices firm in huge yarding
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 49,693 lambs, 464 more than at the previous Wednesday’s sale.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very good with many pens of well-bred light lambs offered. The increased numbers of southern lambs again provided the best weight and condition in the excellent line-up and sold to more competition than the drier skin types.
Demand was steady from the largest gathering of processor and restocker buyers, especially early in the market as trade and store buyers competed strongly to briefly increase prices in most weight ranges. However, as the sale progressed, prices started to ease a little to finish mostly unchanged, even a fraction easier at times.
Competition for the lighter lambs was evident as buyers travelled from the Wimmera, South Australian border, Murray, and Bendigo regions. This, combined with some local interest, saw prices lift $3-$5 in the light weight classes. Demand for the medium trade weights was around the same mark as the previous sale. The heavier trade and export lambs were slightly cheaper, back $1-$2, but as the sale progressed the better lambs sold strongly for prices to be firm on last week’s rates.
Light 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $59-$94. Light trade 2 and 3 scores made from $90-$100 to range from 465c/kg-540c/kg cwt and average around 500c/kg cwt. Medium trade weights, mainly 3 scores, ranged from $94-$128 to average 515c/kg cwt. The heavy trade 4 scores sold from $122-$136 and the increased number of extra heavy weights made $145-$163 to average 520c/kg cwt. The top heavy export lambs had an estimated weight of 30kg cwt, with a $10 skin value to come out at about 510c/kg cwt.
Heavy shorn lambs at 540c/kg in Horsham
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 3896 lambs, 1178 more than last week, and 4938 sheep, 66 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, though more well-presented shorn young lambs were yarded for the usual buyers. They sold to solid competition with the heavier lots making $126-$143.50, to average around 540c/kg cwt. Restocking activity was limited to a few pens of woolly and shorn lambs selling from $70.50-$100. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $76-$85. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $87- $108.50.
Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $111-$130 and ranged from 490c/kg-535c/kg cwt, to average around 510c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold to $141 at around 530/kg cwt. Heavy hoggets sold from $71-$97.50.
The sheep penning included many pens of heavy Merino wethers and ewes plus crossbred ewes. They sold to steady competition from the usual buyers plus some extra competition to be firm to a few dollars dearer.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $45-$63. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $66-$88 and ranged from 270c/kg-350c/kg cwt, to average around 310c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $55-$110. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $83-$101, with the medium weights made $65-$83, at around 315c/kg cwt.
Heavy ewes lift $4-$7 at Hamilton
At the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 23,485 sheep, 5096 more than last week.
The NLRS said ewe quality was mixed in Hamilton’s largest sheep yarding for the year as producers culled ewes after selling lambs. There were some good quality runs of prime Merino wethers that sold to stronger competition from the full field of buyers. The buyers continually competed strongly to obtain mutton, lifting prices in all weight ranges. Restocker activity was very limited with only one local occasionally operating.
Light 1 and 2 score sheep were firm to be $1-$2, while medium weight 3 scores were $2-$3 dearer. The heavier 4 score sheep showed the best rises as ewes were $4-$7 dearer and wethers $6-$10 dearer in places. Light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $33-$60, with the medium weight mutton making $54-$85, in the range of 250c/kg-310c/kg cwt, to average close to 280c/kg cwt. Heavy weight sheep sold from $76-$94 and the extra heavy export ewes made $92-$108, from 290c/kg-320c/kg cwt, to average around 310c/kg cwt.
The best prime Merino wethers sold from $82-$117, or from 330c/kg-350c/kg cwt, to average 340c/kg cwt. Merino rams sold from $45-$55 and the Dorset rams made $12-$36.
Mt Gambier lambs $15 dearer
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 14,065 lambs, 639 more than last week, and 704 sheep, 247 more.
The NLRS said the usual trade buyers were present and there was the normal restocker support. Overall quality was good, although there were large numbers of light weight lambs with some showing signs of the dry season. Prices generally improved with the lighter end of the market improving the most.
Determined trade and restocker bidding pushed the light lamb prices up by an average of $15 with more in places. These lambs ranged from $70-$97, with restocker support purchasing from $53-$90. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs also rose by up to $8 as they sold from $96-$106. Trade weight 3 score lambs improved $6-$8 and ranged from $102-$133, to average 520c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs made $124-$146, at an average of 510c/kg cwt, a rise of $4-$5. The extra heavy lambs were fully firm on last week’s rates, to range from $139-$159.
The sheep lacked the condition of previous weeks and prices fell slightly to average 300c/kg cwt. Light weight 1 and 2 score ewes ranged from $26-$54 and the medium weights made $54-$82. Heavy 4 and 5 score types sold from $85-$93. The few rams offered sold from $20-$33.
Firm prices for sheep and lambs at Katanning
In WA at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 8017 lambs, 1678 more than last week, and 11,000 sheep, 1800 more.
The NLRS said there were reasonable supplies of prime trade lambs along with lighter weight and conditioned drafts. Competition from a full field of buyers kept prices firm, with live export, restockers and feeders all active on lighter conditioned categories. Prices firmed as the sale progressed and buyers increased competition to secure adequate numbers.
Very light store lambs were dearer, from $30-$65, with the light lambs to live export, feed and processors making $55-$100, to finish firm. Trade lambs sold from $85-$110, to average close to 495c/kg. Heavy lambs made $110-$125.
Showers and cool weather changed the focus to sheep this week. Ewe numbers increased considerably, with a number of large drafts offered and moderate numbers of trade weight lambs. Quality remained reasonable, with some good heavy ewes yarded.
Prices for most ewes were firm. Light ewes were marginally dearer, from $35-$65 and 2 score ewes to processors made $50-$81, for a $67 average, equal to last week at 295c/kg cwt. Better 3 and 4 score ewes, including heavy weight drafts, sold from $67-$85.50, to remain equal at close to 295c/kg cwt. Restockers purchased mainly young and light weight ewes, paying $35-$83. Wether prices were firm, with solid live export interest for the small supplies available. Heavy wethers made $80-$96.50 with lighter and store drafts from $50-$88, equal to last week. Rams also sold well, with young drafts to live export and feeders making $40-$68 and old rams selling to processors at $5-$30.
Source: NLRS and AuctionsPlus