TRADE and heavy lamb prices fluctuated on quality to finish slightly weaker early this week as processors sought consistent supplies either direct or at saleyards.
With northern lambs new season lamb supplies either waning or becoming affected by the season and seed, processors are increasingly turning to southern centres for quality and quantity, driving prices higher at major centres.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service staff reported processors are finding it difficult to secure supplies of well-finished lambs in New South Wales, while the southern new season lamb turn-off is yet to peak.
MLA last week reported New South Wales as recording a two percent week-on-week drop in lamb slaughter to 104,490 up to 13 November and a 4pc fall to 48,478 in South Australia, while the number of lambs processed lifted in Victoria by 22pc to 188,633 and by 17pc to 5609 in Tasmania. Across the eastern states the number of lambs slaughtered in the week was up 10pc to 347,457, down 1pc on a year ago.
Victoria was the only eastern state to record a lift in sheep slaughter in the week up to 13 November, up 22pc to 37,348, with the fall in mutton processing in other eastern states was led by NSW (down 3pc to 46,492), South Australia (down 10pc to 7747), Queensland (down 82pc to 244) and Tasmania (down 70pc to 212).
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs included: Trade, down 5 cents to 767c/kg; heavy, no change to 758c/kg; restocker, down 28 cents to 923c/kg; Merino, down 2 cents to 747c/kg and light, down 12 cents to 846c/kg.
The mutton indicator fell 3 cents to 661c/kg, 22 cents higher than a month ago, and 72 cents up on a year ago.
Dubbo trade lambs sell $5-$8 dearer
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 6580 lambs, 300 more than last week, and 2100 sheep, 560 fewer.
The NLRS said the good quality yarding had some good runs of trade and heavy weight shorn lambs, and a good number of Merinos.
A very limited number of new season lambs was penned. Not all the regular buyers were present, though this did not have any effect on the market. The few trade weight new season lambs were close to firm, selling from $148-$200, or from 780-830c/kg cwt. The better selection of trade weight old lambs were $5-$8 dearer at $158-$199. Heavy weight lambs were $8 dearer and the old lambs over 24kg made $202-$240.
A single pen of heavy weight new season lambs sold for $217. Merino lambs were $9 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $138-$190 and the heavy weights made $191-$217.
Young lambs sold to restockers at $128-$153 and young Merino lambs going back to the paddock made $115-$124. Very heavy white Dorper hoggets sold to $240.
The mostly good quality yarding of mutton sold firm to $5 dearer. Merino ewes sold from $130-$227 and crossbred ewes made $196-$240. Merino wethers sold from $130-$240. Most of the sheep made 660-700/kg. The restockers paid $119-$125 for Merino ewes and $170 for white Dorper ewes.
Few well-finished trade lambs at Tamworth
On Monday at the Tamworth saleyards, the agents yarded 1050 lambs and 500 sheep.
The NLRS said there were limited supplies of well-finished lambs to suit the local trade and processor orders.
There were several pens of light weight young lambs suitable for restockers. Processors battling to secure requirements of well-finished new season and old lambs created strong competition, which resulted in dearer trends. With the low numbers there were some significant price improvements. The plainer condition and light weight lambs attracted good restocker competition.
Any ewes in the pens also attracted restocker premiums. The limited supply of sheep also met strong processor competition with market trends firm to dearer. Restockers were again active on breeding age ewes regardless of breed.
Best Bendigo trade lambs lift $2-$9
The NLRS said only odd pens of shorn lambs are appearing and lines of woolly young lambs are still dominating yardings.
Quality was again very mixed, with southern areas still providing fresh conditioned young lambs but most stock from northern grazing regions now appearing with dry skins and seed.
The best trade and heavy lambs were $2-$9 dearer and the general run of domestic lambs sold at similar levels to a week ago. Some of the smaller store lambs sold back to the paddock were dearer.
The heaviest export young lambs over 30kg sold from $225-$240. Most of the heavy lambs were in the 26-30kg bracket and sold from $200-$230 to average $216, recording some of the best price gains. Underneath this was the general run of domestic lambs, which sold from $160-$185. Most lambs made an estimated 730-770c/kg.
Small and light lambs sold from $130-$160 to a mix of restocker and MK processor competition. There was some very small Merino and crossbred lambs under 12kg that sold strongly on a size basis. There was new store restocking order from Rainbow in the west of the state.
Demand for mutton continued at high levels, with prices for the main lines of Merinos and crossbreds firm to dearer again. Two export buyers drove prices for heavy sheep, and their bidding clashes created price spikes.
Some processors didn’t operate or only purchased limited numbers due to the strong carcase rates of 620-700c/kg across most sheep. Big crossbred ewes made $185-$269 to average $235; heavy Merino ewes sold from $208-$264 to average $238; heavy Merino wethers made $228-$242 and plainer sheep sold mostly from $120-$160.
Ballarat market firm to softer
In Victoria at the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 37,361 lambs, 6361 more than last week, and 15,245 sheep, 3245 more.
The NLRS said quality was good to excellent, with more weight offered in all categories.
All the usual buyers attended, including extra store buyers, but not all were active. Buyers operated fully in a firm to slightly softer market. Bidding was erratic at times, with the market starting softer, but firming up as the sale progressed, with increased competition for the better quality lambs across the yarding.
Prices for light weight lambs were mostly unchanged. Medium and heavy weight lambs sold firm to $10 softer for the Merinos and eased $8-$10 for the crossbreds. Feeders and restockers were very active on the light weight lambs, with lines under 20kg selling from $50-$164 and the 20kg-plus lambs made $158-$178. Lambs under 18kg suiting MK orders sold from $137-$149.
The 18-22kg trade lambs sold from $147-$173, the 22-24kg lines made $166-$192 and the 24-26kg lambs sold from $183-$201 to average 740-750c/kg.
The export 4 score lambs weighing 26-30kg sold from $200-$225 and lines over 30kg made $229-$265 to average 710-720c/kg. Merino lambs under 20kg sold from $137-$160 and the 20kg and over lines made $161-$204.
Sheep quality was plain to excellent, with plenty of weight offered across the yarding. Crossbred hoggets sold to $230 and Merinos made $185. Heavy Merino wethers over 24kg sold from $148-$252 and the lighter weights made $130-$175, or 660-690c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $155-$254, or 640-650/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes made $150-$258, or 630-640c/kg. Merino rams sold to $180.
Mixed price trends at Forbes
In NSW at the Forbes saleyard on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6350 lambs, 1000 fewer than last week, and 3500 sheep, 550 more.
The NLRS said only 1750 new season lambs were offered, with most now shorn. Trade and heavy lambs made up most of the yarding, with store lambs in very short supply. There were only 950 Merino lambs.
Competition was strong on the smaller offering with all buyers operating and price trends were mixed, with the new season woolly lambs back $1-$3 and the shorn lambs firm.
Shorn new season trade lambs made $152-$175, or 780-800c/kg. Heavy weights sold from $169-$209, or 780c/kg. Extra heavy weights made $203-$245. Merino trade lambs sold from $150-$175 to remain firm.
The few new season trade lambs sold from $160-$177, or 785c/kg. Heavy weights made $170-$205, or 750-770c/kg. Extra heavy lambs sold from $193-$238.
The mutton quality remained good. Ewes were best supplied and prices dearer on the light sheep and firm on heavy crossbreds. Medium weight ewes sold from $140-$162. Heavy crossbred ewes made $228-$252 and Merinos sold from $218-$223
Dublin’s heavy trade lambs lift $10-$15
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5000 lambs, 3000 fewer than last week, and 5500 sheep, 1500 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was only fair for the usual buyers and a small field of restockers.
Competition was good across the lamb sale and strong across the mutton offering. Extremely light young lambs sold firm at $58-$128 and light lambs sold from $130-$142. Light trade weights lifted $5-$10 and sold from $136-$164, medium weights gained $5-$8 to make $156-$190 and the few heavy weights gained $10-$15 to sell from $180-$218.
Light older lambs remained firm at $128-$143, light trade weights made $120-$172 and heavy weights gained $5-$10 to make $160-$190, Extra heavy weight old lambs gained $10 to make $186-$215.
There was strong competition for the extremely good quality offering of sheep. Light hoggets sold firm at $130-$140 and the medium and heavier weights lifted by up to $30 in places to sell from $179-$246. Light ewe mutton sold firm at $120-$134 and the heavier weights gained $10 to sell from $165-$230. Wether mutton of mostly heavier weights sold from $174-$248. A small selection of plainer young Merino ewes made $130-$156. Rams sold from $120-$202.
Naracoorte lamb market firm
In SA at the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 27,719 lambs, 4335 more, with no sheep yarded until next week.
The NLRS said the lambs sold to more trade and processor buyers with a large field of restockers also seeking lambs.
Lamb quality was mixed, with some excellent weights and freshness in the heavier pens, but a large increase in the number of store types with a large number of these dry in the skin. Rates on offer were mainly firm, with some select places being dearer as the market experienced strong competition among all buyers.
Light lambs sold to exporters at $76-$146 and the light weight trade types made $145-$156. Restockers paid $50-$118 for light lambs and those with more condition made $123-$165. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $147-$170 or 740-780c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $168-$208 with the extra heavy pens making $197-$240.The few hoggets on offer made from $135-$190.
Muchea’s new season lambs sell firm
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4000 lambs, 380more than last week, and 5910 sheep, 90 fewer.
The NLRS said it was a similar quality yarding with new seasons lambs remaining firm at 620c/kg cwt.
Old season lambs slipped in quality and eased in price from $5-$10 in comparison to the new season lines. Ram lamb prices gained $20 for an improved selection.
Extreme light weight new season lambs up to 12kg cwt sold to graziers for $55-$61. The 12-16kg lines sold to graziers at $70-$116. The 17-18kg airfreight types sold from $115-$121, or 700c/kg.
All trade types sold at around 620c/kg, with the 19-20kg lines making $120-$128. The 21-22kg lambs sold from $130-$145, with the heaviest types making $150. Ram lambs were $20 dearer in an improved selection and sold from $124-$140.
Hoggets gained $10 on increased demand and sold from $111-$160, or 505c/kg. In the ewe mutton market, light weight boners up to 18kg sold at $75, medium weight boners weighing 19-24kg made $93-$135, with the top of the market holding heavy fleeces and remaining firm. The prime 25-30kg lines sold from $125-$144 or 500c/kg and eased $5. Heavier sheep sold from $142-$160, down $5. The heavy older wethers sold to processors eased $10 in a very light selection.
Tasmanian lambs sell firm to dearer
In Northern Tasmania on Tuesday, agents at the Powranna saleyards yarded 2093 lambs, 81 fewer than last week, and 1198 sheep, 89 more.
The NLRS said the yarding included 1190 new season lambs. The quality of new lambs was very good and the market was similar to a few dollars dearer, with restockers struggling to match the pace of processors and feeders.
The quality of old lambs was also good and these met a firm market. Feeders and restockers bought light lambs from $128-$155, light trades sold from $148-$163 and trade weights made $160-$168. Breeders bought ewe lambs for $190. Processors bought light trades from $155-$166, trade weights 20-24kg sold from $160-$186 and heavy weights made $178-$210.
Heavy old lambs made $188-$198, the trade weights sold from $144-$176 and the lighter weights made $136-$168.
The mutton yarding was mostly ewes and the four exporters operating lifted prices by $5-$15. Extra heavy sheep over 30kg made $184-$202, heavy weights sold from $164-$182 and medium sheep made $138-$184.