Prime & Store Sheep Reports

Trade and heavy lamb prices climb as supplies wane

Sheep Central, February 17, 2021

Sheep and lambs at the Muchea saleyards in WA. Picture – WAMIA.

TRADE lamb prices pushed well over 900c/kg in eastern states’ saleyards early this week as numbers dropped in most centres and buyers competed for weight and quality.

The dearer trend started on Monday in Bendigo – where most better finished trade weight lambs made $200-$235 and some pens pushed above 900c/kg cwt – and in Dubbo,  where tradeweight lambs were $7-$12 dearer and shorn lines made $165-$216, or 840-875c/kg, and heavy lamb prices rose $11.

This trend continued at Forbes on Tuesday, where slaughter lambs sold $10-$15 dearer, with medium and heavy trade lambs making $177-$210, or 910-940c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $198-$247, or 890c-910c/kg.

At Ballarat on Tuesday, most lambs sold $5-$14 dearer, with 18-22kg tradeweights making $168-$205 and 22-24kg lines selling from $190-$230, or 800-958c/kg, to average 860-900c/kg. Extra heavy lambs sold to $314.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s National livestock Reporting Service said after Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator was up 9 cents to 862c/kg, 17 cents higher than a week ago. The heavy lamb indicator was 7 cents higher at 860c/kg. Reflecting ongoing strong restocker interest in lambs, the restocker lamb indicator rose 1`0 cents to 979c/kg. Only the light lamb indicator lost ground, to go down 15 cents to 882c/kg.

The mutton indicator rose 8 cents to close at 664c/kg.

Dubbo trade lambs lift $7-$12

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards, the agents yarded 8290 lambs, 12130 fewer than last week, and 2425 sheep, 1055 less.

The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding with another top display of heavy weight lambs, a fair selection of trade weights, but fewer Merino lambs. A full field of buyers attended and operated in a solid market.

Trade lambs were $7-$12 dearer, with the few new season lambs selling from $154-$210. Trade weight shorn lambs sold from $165-$216, or 840-875c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $11 dearer, with the 24-30kg old lambs selling from $215-$256 and lambs over 30kg making $255-$270, or 810-830c/kg. The few Merino lambs were around firm and trade weight Merinos made $160-$175. \

Following good weekend rains, restocker lambs were dearer, with young unshorn new season lambs selling from $130-$164. Hoggets were dearer, with crossbreds selling to $230 and Merino to $202.

There was some very good sheep along with plainer types in a mixed yarding of mutton where most grades sold $18-$22 dearer. Merino ewes sold from $102-$248 and crossbred ewes made $136-$243. Merino wethers sold from $155-$212 and crossbred wethers made to $252. Most of the better sheep ranged from 620-685c/kg. Restockers paid $153-$187 for Merino ewes and from $175-$199 for White Dorpers.

Bendigo trade lambs push over 900c/kg

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards, the agents yarded 12,000 lambs, 4000 fewer than last week, and 5000 sheep, 500 less.

The NLRS said heavy lambs dominated and most were better presented slaughter lambs estimated above 27kg.

Competition from processors improved, particularly for the nicer-sized domestic lambs in short supply. The market was quoted as firm to dearer by selling agents and buyers.

The heaviest export lambs sold to $280, with most of the 30kg-plus lambs making $240-$270. This category was rated as firm to just a few dollars dearer than last week.

Demand intensified for the better finished trade weight lambs, which made $200-$235 for the lead runs, at an estimated 840-880c/kg for most, although some pens pushed above 900c/kg. Lighter and plainer lambs sold mostly from $150-$175.

Sheep prices fluctuated, as one export company went in and out of the auction, sometimes clashing with another buyer. This created a big price spread for mutton, with estimated rates stretching from 550-750c/kg-plus, depending on what company could purchase. Heavy Merino ewes in wool sold to $281 and big crossbreds reached $260. The general run of sheep mostly made from $140-$220.  Due-current COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria this report was compiled remotely.

Tamworth lambs firm to dearer despite quality

In NSW at the Tamworth saleyards, the agents yarded 2300 lambs, 900 fewer than last week, and 1000 sheep, 200 less.

The NLRS said the quality of the lamb yarding was mixed, ranging from light weight young lambs carrying plenty of seed through to some very well-finished heavy and extra heavy weights. The usual buyers attended.

Quality was a factor in cheaper prices for the light weight young lambs-restockers. The heavier weights attracted processor and restocker competition and remained firm. Medium weight trade lambs sold to a cheaper trend. Processor demand increased for heavy weights and the market trend was positive. Those trends carried through to the old lambs, where the heavy and extra heavy weights posted some strong weight related price improvement.

Restockers were again active on young ewes. Demand was also high from all sectors in the sheep market. The quality was mostly good with well-finished medium and heavy weights well represented. There was also a good selection of extra heavy weight crossbred ewes.

Market trends were dearer throughout with some strong gains on the plainer lines.

Forbes slaughter lambs $10-$15 dearer

In NSW at the Forbes sale yards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 14,050 lambs, 4150 fewer than last week, and 3250 sheep, 2250 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was good, although there was a sprinkling of dry trade weights with longer wool. Trade lambs were in short supply and most lambs weighed 24-27kg cwt.

Extra heavy lambs were well-supplied and there were some very good heavy Merinos. The market was $10-$15 dearer on average across most of the processing lambs.

Medium and heavy trade lambs sold from $177-$210, averaging 910-940c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $198-$247, or 890c-910c/kg and the extra heavy lambs made $233-$299.20. Lambs over 30kg averaged 780c-790c/kg.

Heavy Merino lambs sold to $250 and Merino hoggets made $194-$234. Restocking lambs sold from $110-$180.

Sheep quality was good and prices were $15 dearer and up to $20 higher on some pens. Medium weight ewes sold from $127-$174. Heavy crossbred ewes made $225-$250 and Merinos reached $257. Carcase prices ranged from 660-740c/kg.

Ballarat lamb prices lift $5-$14

In Victoria at the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 25,623 lambs, 2904 fewer than last week, and 9634 sheep, 1715 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mostly excellent and all the usual buyers attended the a very competitive market, where there was strong demand on trade weight lambs.

Prices increased $5-$14 across most categories, as processors were bidding on more weight to fill orders. Light trade lambs sold $5-$10 dearer, Medium and heavy trade were $6-$11 better and heavy and extra heavy sold $8-$14 stronger up to $314.

Light weight lambs under 20kg sold back to the paddock for $126-$167, with 20kg and over lines making $158-$211. Lambs suiting MK orders under 18kg sold from $141-$178. The 18-22kg lambs sold to the trade made $168-$205 and 22-24kg lines sold from $190-$230, or from 800-958c/kg, to average 860-900c/kg.

The 24-26kg lambs sold from $200-$229. Export score 4 26-30kg lambs made $232-$266 to average 865c/kg and those over 30kg sold from $255-$314 to average 815c/kg. The limited supply of heavy woolly lambs sold to $217.

Sheep quality was plain to very good. Most processors were active. The market started softer and gained momentum. With one exporter dropping in and out of the market throughout the sale, prices were varied.

Light mutton prices lifted and was slightly stronger, with heavy mutton softer in places. Merino mutton sold to a top of $250 and crossbred made to $240. Crossbred hoggets sold to $208 and Merino’s made to $160. Heavy Merino wethers over 24kg sold from $155-$250, and lighter weights made $120-$170, or 640-660c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $170-$250, or from 630-660c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes made $151-$240, or from 605-635c/kg.

Dublin’s heavy trade lambs ease $8-$10

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange in Dublin, the agents yarded 13,000 lambs, 1500 more than last week, and 4000 sheep, 1500 less.

The NLRS said the usual buyers were all active. Restocker competition was limited as few suitable lambs were offered in a yarding that was among the best seen here for some time.

Competition was good with light and medium weight young and old lambs generally maintaining the previous week’s rates; however, heavy trade lambs eased by $8-$10, with the few extreme heavy weights easing by a similar amount. Light young lambs sold from $102-$152, medium trade weights made $130-$169 and heavy weights sold from $162-$188. Extreme heavy weights sold from $188-$236. Light older lambs made $135-$145, light trade weights sold from $134-$167 and medium weights made $160-$188.

Heavy weight lambs made $175-$213 and extreme heavy weights sold from $190-$268.

Hoggets of mostly heavier weights sold from $142-$235. Young Merino ewes made $150-$222. Light ewe mutton sold from $105-$142 and medium weights made $140-$192. The heavier weight types sold from $165-$216 and a small selection of wethers made $155-$222. Rams sold from $150-$222.

Mixed Naracoorte quality keeps prices stable

In South Australia at the Naracoorte saleyards, the agents yarded 7037 lambs, 870 more than last week, and 2485 sheep, 854 more.

The NLRS said these sold to the usual trade and processor buyers and a number of restocker orders. Quality continued to be mixed as the rates paid for lambs stayed in similar ranges of the previous weeks’ sale.

Light lambs sold to the trade for $145-$163 and restockers sourced lighter types at $90-$115. Those with more conditioning made $140-$181. Medium weighted lambs sold to the trade for $188-$218, or 820c-860c/kg, and the heavy pens made $210-$278, or 780-810c/kg. Heavy sheep sold from $195-$240. The medium weights sold from $165-$195 and the lighter pens made $98-$125 or mainly 560-600c/kg. Due-current COVID-19 border restrictions, this report was generated remotely with no physical MLA attendance at the saleyard.

Muchea lambs firm

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7000 lambs, 2954 more than last week, and 5000 sheep, 2000 more.

The NLRS said most lambs were in store condition and suited the strong grazier and feedlot demand. Trade and heavy lambs remained firm on the previous solid sale to sell to $189, or 730c/kg.

The very light weight lambs up to 12kg sold to graziers at $40-$81. The 13-17kg air freight types sold from $70-$138 to remain firm, pushed by lot feeders. The 18-21kg light trade lambs sold from $130-$148 to be firm. The prime 22kg lambs sold from $160-$167 to average 730c/kg. Heavier 23kg plus lambs made $165-$189. Hoggets were firm on a light selection at $132-$186 to average 570c/kg. Hoggets peaked at $186 and ram lambs made to $171.

Prices remained firm mutton. Wethers topped at $207 and heavy ewes made to $191 to average 600c/kg. Prices remained firm for light weight boners at $65-$70. Medium weight boners 19-24kg sold from $100-$148. The prime 25-30kg types made $145-$180 and the tops in a full fleece averaged 600c/kg. Heavier pens sold from $165-$191. The best heavy older wethers sold firm to processors at $150-$207.

Northern Tasmania’s heavy lambs lift $20

In northern Tasmania at the Powranna saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2400 lambs, 460 fewer than last week, and 2527 sheep, 407 less.

The NLRS said though there was not as much weight as last week, the market improved across all grades with heavy lambs up as much as $20.

Restockers bought light lambs for $134-$162 and light trade lines sold from $157-$176. Light trade lambs sold to processors for $155-$174 and medium weights made $174-$196. The heavy pens up to 30kg sold from $198-$218.

Mutton demand was erratic with fewer buyers and most sheep prices eased $5-$10. Extra heavy ewes made $150-$174 and heavy lines sold from $145-$176. Medium weights made $119-$155 and lights sold from $96-$116. Restockers bought light sheep for $100-$125.

Source: MLA.


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  1. Frank Egan, February 17, 2021

    As producers, the only way we will maintain a decent return is if we keep the national flock at or below 70 million head.

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