Top shorn lambs in demand as prices adjust around quality

Sheep Central, December 16, 2015
These 15.4kg cwt early December shorn White Suffolk cross lambs on Kangaroo Island sold for $101 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These 15.4kg cwt early December shorn White Suffolk cross lambs on Kangaroo Island sold for $101 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

SLAUGHTER lamb prices equalised around quality between the eastern states mid-week with top shorn lambs in strong demand in some Victorian saleyards and making over 560c/kg.

Trade and heavy lamb prices in New South Wales came back further on quality, but export processors and domestic buyers bid more keenly on the best runs of new season medium trade and heavy lambs in Victorian saleyards.

At Bendigo on Monday, the best shorn slaughter lambs sold $8-$10 dearer than last week. Although the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted most new season lambs over 22kg cwt as making less than 500c/kg, some 24-27kg cwt shorn lambs sold from $138-$152, or 530-560c/kg and close to 600c/kg.

In Hamilton on Monday, heavy lambs sold $5-$12 higher and medium trade lambs were $4-$8 dearer. Ballarat lambs also lifted $2-$7 on quality on Tuesday.

In NSW saleyards, prices for new season trade lambs fell, down $5-$8 at Forbes and Dubbo, and $11-$15 easier at Tamworth. The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted light trade weights, 18.1-22kg, with $1-$10 skins at $83-$128, or 416-558c/kg, and lambs over 22kg with skins worth up to $10 made $108-$145, or 452-558c/kg.

In Victorian saleyards, light and medium weight new season trade lambs, 18.1-22kg, with skins valued at up to $12 sold for $76-$135, or 375-574c/kg. Lambs over 22kg with skins worth up to $12 made $115-$174, or 391-570c/kg.

In South Australia, young trade lambs up to 24kg cwt with skins valued at up to $9 made $91-$130, or 436-570c/kg. Heavier lambs with similar skins sold for $125-$166 or 484-572c/kg.

In Western Australia at Muchea, light and medium weight young trade lambs sold up to $12 dearer, at $95-$115, with carcase weight prices for prime drafts from 490-595c/kg, averaging close to 550c/kg. Heavy lambs made $120-$132, up by close to $11.

Restocking demand continued in all saleyards, but was strongest in Victoria.

The NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs generally lost ground, except in the heavy category. After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the ESDIs for lambs were: restocker 511c/kg, down 11 cents; Merino 414c/kg, down 20c; light 483c/kg, down 5c; trade 508c/kg, down 1c; heavy 524c/kg, no change. The national trade lamb indicator lost 1 cent to 509c/kg and the heavy indice closed firm on 525c/kg.

Mutton prices were generally down nationally except where restockers underpinned values, with NLRS reporters quoting many processors as having a backlog of supplies on hand. The ESDI for mutton lost 12 cents on Tuesday to close on 367c/kg and the national mutton indicator fell 13 cents to 265c/kg.

NLRS over the hook lamb rates fall in NSW, lift in Vic and SA

In NSW, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the hook lamb categories declined up to 6c/kg cwt on average this week, , while light weight and Merino lambs were steady. There were no movements to mutton over-the-hook indicators week-on-week, with medium weights averaging 310c/kg cwt.

NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lamb are: 18-20kg, 460-540c/kg, no change; 20-26kg+, 500-540c/kg, down 5-6c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 390-490c/kg, NC. Sheep: 14-18kg, 220-330c/kg; 18-24kg, 290-330c/kg; 24kg+, 250-330c/kg.

In Victoria, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb indicators were dearer across most categories this week, with trade weights averaging 523c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were lower than last week’s levels, with medium and heavy weights down an average of 10c/kg cwt.

Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lamb are: 16-18kg, 510-520c/kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 510-550c/kg, up 7-8c; 24-26kg, 510-520c/kg, up 10c; 26kg+, 510c/kg, up 20c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, no change. Sheep: 14-18kg, 240-310c/kg, down 20c; 18-24kg, 260-300c/kg, down 10c; 24kg+, 220-260c/kg, down 10c.

In South Australia, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the-hook indicators lifted 7c/kg cwt on average this week, while light weight and Merino lambs were unchanged. Light and heavy weight mutton eased marginally, and the medium weight category was slightly higher.

South Australia’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lamb are: 16-18kg, 520c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 520-550c/kg, up 7c; 24-26kg+, 510-520c/kg, up 7c; Merinos 16-22kg, 490c/kg, nc. Sheep: 14-18kg, 220-310c/kg, down 2c; 18-24kg, 240-300c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 200-280c/kg, down 3c.

The NLRS quoted Tasmania’s over the hook indicators for lamb and mutton as unchanged. The OTH 2-4 score lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 465-480c/kg; 16-18kh, 480-500c/kg; 18-26kg, 510-520c/kg. Sheep: 0-14kg, 260-290c/kg; 14-24kg+, 280-290c/kg.

Dubbo trade lambs $5 cheaper

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,420 lambs, 5295 fewer than last week, and 8960 sheep, 5150 less.

The NLRS said very few new season lambs were yarded, with most of yarding being trade and heavy weights, along with a fair percentage of lighter weights.

Light weight lambs were $2-$5 cheaper, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $51-$84. Trade lambs were $5 cheaper, with the 18-22kg new season lines making $80-$126. Heavy weight lambs were $4-$8 cheaper, with over 22kg old lambs selling from $115-$162. New season heavy weights lambs sold to $142. Merino lambs were $7 cheaper, with trade weights making $71-$108. Lambs sold to restockers made to $99 and hoggets sold to $105.

The good quality yarding of sheep included a good selection of prime Merino ewes and heavy weight crossbreds. The market was tough, with most grades falling $11-$16. The 2 score ewes sold to processors made $8-$56. The 3 and 4 score Merino ewes made $40-$88 and crossbreds sold to $84. Ewes sold to restockers at $25-$50 and Merino wethers sold to $86.

Tamworth’s trade lambs $11-$15 cheaper

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3250 lambs, 300 more than last week, and 1660 sheep, 890 fewer.

The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was very mixed, there was a good supply of second cross trade weights. There were a few well-finished heavy weights, some secondary quality lines and restocker lambs. The usual buyers attended.

Demand for trade and heavy weight lambs was weaker leading into Christmas when traditionally other meat products are consumed. This resulted in cheaper trends, with trade weight young lambs averaging $11-$15 easier. There was some restocker competition for well-bred first and second cross lambs, with the market firm to cheaper. Heavy lambs also met with weaker demand, but were less affected than trade weights, which were $4-$6 cheaper. Secondary quality lambs sold to a cheaper trend, while lean Merino lambs were dearer.

Demand for medium and heavy sheep was also weaker, with market trends cheaper for both ewes and wethers. There was fair demand for the lean light weights.

Forbes’s trade lambs $5-$8 easier

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 14,800 lambs, 3671 fewer than last week, and 8100 sheep, 711 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality continued to be mixed, with a good number of well-finished shorn lambs and some plainer types yarded. Most of the usual buyers competed in a cheaper market.

Trade weight new season lambs sold from $104-$121. Old season light lambs averaged $80. Trade weights were $5-$8 easier at $94-$115. Heavy and extra heavy weights were $5-$8 cheaper. Heavy weight lambs made $118-$135 and extra heavy weights sold from $133-$164. Carcase prices ranged from 476-516c/kg.

Mutton quality was again very mixed in the mainly Merino yarding. Prices were cheaper, with Merino ewes selling from $53-$75. Crossbred ewes ranged from $49-$73 and Dorper ewes sold from $50-$65. Merino wethers made $67-$88.

Bendigo’s best shorn lambs $8-$10 dearer

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 19,195 lambs, 2895 fewer than last week, and 6533 sheep, 5275 less.

The NLRS said quality was best in the shorn lambs, with most longer-woolled young lambs displaying dryness. A full field of buyers competed for heavy trade and the quality of the export lambs over about 24kg cwt was the strongest seen at this centre for some time. The best shorn lambs sold to exporters and domestic processors averaged $8-$10 dearer, with some pens making as much as $20 more than a week ago. Bidding for the general run of domestic slaughter lambs was more selective, but most sales still gained $3-$6. Store lamb competition fluctuated, with some of the bigger lines noticeably dearer but other pens just similar. The market reached a top of $165.60 for a small pen of extra heavy export lambs estimated at over 34kg cwt. Competition for the best presented heavy lambs was animated. A highlight of the sale was 24-27kg cwt shorn lambs selling from $138-$152. On a carcase basis these quality lambs, which had little to no skin value, were estimated to have sold mostly from 530-560c/kg cwt, with a few select pens nudging 600c/kg. The general run of trade lambs, around 20-22kg, mostly sold from $105-$125. Store lamb competition remained strong with orders from Swan Hill, Horsham, Kerang, Wycheproof, Birchip, Shepparton, Echuca and the local Bendigo area.

Demand was much weaker for the sheep amid reports many processors have a backlog of mutton heading into Christmas. Not all the usual export orders operated. Most sheep were $10-$18 lower than a week ago. The market reached a top of $100.20 for young crossbred ewes sold to restockers. However, most slaughter sheep sold for less than $80, with the plainest and lightest down to just $8. On a carcase basis, the best presented trade mutton sold mostly from 260-280c/kg, with the general run of ewes returning an estimated 225-240c/kg.

Hamilton’s trade and heavy lambs $4-$12 dearer

At the Hamilton saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 23,673 lambs, 4246 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said it was mixed quality yarding, as more lambs from southern districts were offered compared to last week. There were more lambs in better condition and suitable for slaughter, and plentiful supplies of 2 and 3 score trade weights. A near-full field of processors was keen to fill orders and there were also restockers from the Goulburn Valley, Wimmera, South Australia and local regions.

The market’s trend was much dearer, especially for the best quality lambs. Heavy lambs sold $5-$12 dearer and medium trade lambs were $4-$8 dearer. Lighter lambs were mostly firm to $3 dearer, and up to $9 higher in isolated sales compared to last Monday. Restockers paid $40-$71 for very light lambs and $60-$97 for 2 and 3 score store lambs, averaging 535c/kg cwt. Very light 1 score lambs sold to processors for $55-$75 and light weight 2 score lambs made $66-$92. Lighter trade weight 2 scores sold from $83-$105 and the 3 scores made $95-$120, or from 460-570c/kg, averaging 530c/kg. The best drafts of trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $ 109-$135 and averaged around 545c/kg. Heavy 3-4 score lambs sold from $132-$148 and the extra heavy export lambs averaged $151, and sold to $174, or 526-562c/kg, averaging an estimated 550c/kg.

Ballarat lambs lift $2-$7 on quality

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 36,193 lambs, 5450 fewer than last week, and 8273 sheep, 7151 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was average to good, with good supplies of light weight, trade weight and heavy lambs. The usual buyers operated keenly in a generally dearer market for trade and heavy weight lambs.

Overall, lambs sold $2-$7 better on quality. The best heavy young lambs reached $167 and the better shorn lambs sold to $153. Feeders and restocker buyers paid mostly $72-$122 for young woolly lambs, $72-$120 for shorn young lambs and $35-$68 for lighter drafts. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $65-$78. Light trade lambs made $75-$113 and averaged near 490c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $110-$128, with the heavier lots making $120-$145. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $135-$167. Heavy shorn young lambs made $130-$153 and the light and heavy trade weights sold from $106-$129.

The sheep yarding included all weights and grades. Several big runs of well-presented crossbred and Merino ewes were offered, with most categories selling to an easier trend. Overall, sheep sold $5-$15 cheaper than last week, with most works reporting higher offerings. The bulk of the crossbred ewes were purchased by local restockers for $50-$73. Merino ewes sold to restockers for $52-$65 and Merino wethers made $53-$89. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $19-$54. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $33-$80 and ranged from 165-290c/kg cwt. Merino mutton averaged 270c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $50-$78. Heavy Merino wethers made $68-$79 and medium weights sold from $50-$75.

Dublin’s trade weight restocker lambs lift $6-$13

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,000 lambs, 4037 more than last week, and 6000 sheep, 3000 more.

The NLRS said the very mixed quality yarding sold to fluctuating competition from a large gallery of trade and processor buyers.

Feeder and restocker buyers were very active and agents from the mid-north and Yorke Peninsula areas dominated and paid up to $108 for crossbreds to feed on. Very light weight crossbreds sold to feeder buyers eased $4 to $46-$60. Very light weight Merino lambs sold from $29-$58 and light weights were bought by restockers and feeders for $62-$91. Light weights sold to feeders lifted $4 to $70-$106 and trade weight crossbreds sold to feed on lifted $6-$13 to $94-$108. Light weight 3 score crossbreds sold to trade buyers lifted $3 to $100-$103, averaging 514c/kg. Lighter trade weight 4 scores were scarce and lifted marginally to $110-$120, averaging 506c/kg. Heavier trade weights lifted $7 to $120-$141, averaging 547c/kg. Heavy weights sold from $125-$166 to average 541c/kg. Trade weight Merinos sold to processors eased $2 to $99-$105, averaging 437c/kg. The few heavy weights yarded sold to $116. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $85-$111 and crossbreds made $99-$112.

The generally good quality sheep yarding sold to solid competition from a larger gallery of processor buyers. The large restocker contingent from the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas and Mid-north provided a solid base, and were intent on purchasing heavy weight ewes and wethers or any sheep with longer wool. Restockers paid $53-$73 for light weight ewes and $72-$92 for heavy weight Merino ewes. Crossbred ewes sold to restockers for up to $65 and wethers made $75-$97. Light weight 2 score ewes sold processors eased $7 to $45-$68, averaging 225c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 scores remained unchanged at $63-$103, averaging 259c/kg Heavy weight wethers followed suit, selling from $80-$109 to average 322c/kg cwt. Heavy weight rams made $30-$60.

Naracoorte lamb prices unchanged

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2022 lambs, 81 fewer than last week, and 2086 sheep, 1207 more.

The NLRS said the lambs yarded were mostly store quality. The usual trade and processor buyers attended and competition from restockers was strong.

Prices were similar to last week for the mostly shorn offering of lambs. Light weight 2 score lambs made $72-$88, with most selling to restockers. The 3 score light weight trade lambs sold from $75-$106, with restockers paying $70-$92 for 2 scores and $100 for a pen of 3 scores. The 3 score medium-heavy weight trade lambs sold from $95-$125 and the small number of 22-24kg cwt lambs made to $130, with a single pen topping at $138. Most of the better quality lambs sold processors at 520-550c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score hoggets made $80-$95.

The sheep were of fair to good quality, with more better quality heavy weights. Prices were $10-$15 lower. Light weight 1 score sheep sold from $26-$48 and the medium weight 2 and 3 scores made $46-$68. The heavy weight 3 and 4 score ewes made $58-$74. Merino wethers sold to $76 and a pen of extra heavy crossbred wethers topped the market at $88. Heavy weight 2 and 3 score rams made mostly $20-$50, with a top sale at $67.

Muchea lamb prices strengthen

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7800 lambs, 2900 more than last week, and 11,000 sheep, 3304 more.

The NLRS most of the lambs were crossbreds, but a large number of light weight Merino lambs was also consigned. Quality was mixed with reasonable supplies of prime lambs All the usual buyers operated.

Prices were very strong across all lamb categories. Light store lambs sold to restockers were $3 dearer at $33-$70. Merino drafts made $33-$55. Light lambs sold to processors and feeders made $60-$92.50, to be $2-$7 dearer. Trade weight lambs sold from $95-$130.50 to be $2-$12 dearer. Carcase weight prices for prime drafts were 490-595c/kg, averaging close to 550c/kg. Heavy lambs made $120-$132, up by close to $11.

There were good numbers of heavier weight ewes carrying reasonable length fleeces. Prices lifted for the better drafts. Supplies of lighter weight lines exceeded demand and prices eased slightly. Light ewes sold from $15-$54 to be $4 easier. The 2 score processor drafts made $35-$68, to be firm. Heavier weight and better conditioned drafts with fleeces lifted $2 to $55-$85 and bare shorn lines made $55-$72. Restockers were strong on lighter conditioned ewes, paying close to $6 more at $25-$56. Better ewes sold to restockers included some well grown long wool ewe hoggets that made $54-$102.50, mostly firm to $13 dearer. Wether prices remained firm, with the export wethers making $85-$98 and feeders paying from $75-$114, depending on frame and wool length. Ram prices were similar, with ram lambs selling to $126.50 and feeder drafts from $40-$70. Old rams sold to processors for $5-$45.

For the 2015-16 season’s last and next sale dates for MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards click here.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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