TRADE and heavy lamb prices averaged lower mid-week as more saleyard supplies and weaker export demand meant buyers were more selective, bringing overall rates back.
Premiums are still being paid in all slaughter lamb categories for quality, but the number of plainer secondary lambs is bringing average rates down.
Wagga agents yarded 32,000 better quality lambs on Thursday, 11,000 more than last week, and the National Livestock Reporting Service said competition was sporadic before gaining momentum due to the increased number and some lambs showing dryness.
However, restocker demand meant prices for suitable light and trade lambs continued to peak above 600c/kg at saleyards in New South Wales, southern Victoria and South Australia, keeping pressure on exporters and domestic trade buyers.
Despite weaker export demand, heavy and extra heavy lamb carcase weight prices continued to range from 470-585c/kg.
Processing quality light and trade lambs are still generally making 440-580c/kg at most saleyards, with secondary lambs not preferred by processors or professional feeders selling below 400c/kg.
NLRS slaughter lamb indicators firm to lower
After Thursday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for trade and heavy lambs closed lower, while the ESDI for light lambs was unchanged. The lamb ESDIs are: restocker 546c/kg, no change; Merino 497c/kg, up 1 cent; trade 531c/kg, down 3c; heavy 531c/kg, down 3c. The national trade and heavy lamb indicators finished down 2 cents on 532c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton closed on 316c/kg, up 4 cents, and the national indicator improved 3 cents to 315c/kg.
Carcoar’s heavy lambs lift $5
In New South Wales at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar on Wednesday, the agents yarded 8400 lambs, 2750 more than last week, and 4200 sheep, 1600 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding, with a notable selection of heavy weight lambs and a good number of trade weights. There was also a strong selection of lighter lambs to suit the restockers.
Light weight lambs sold to processors were $4 dearer, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores making $80-$102. Trade lambs were firm for the better quality lambs and $4 cheaper for the plainer types. The 18-23kg 3 scores sold from $97-129, to average 542c/kg. Heavy weight lambs were $5 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $124-$158. Lambs sold to restockers were $6 dearer at $84-$117. Hoggets sold to $111.
Some top lines of cross bred ewes were yarded, along with a reasonable selection of Merinos. Most grades sold $4-$7 dearer, with 2 score ewes making $30-$69. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos sold from $56-$98 and crossbred made to $109. Heavy weight Merino wethers sold from $87-$102.
Wagga’s trade lambs $4-$7 cheaper
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 32,000 lambs, 11,000 more than last week, and 7000 sheep.
The NLRS said quality improved across all trade lamb categories, with increased supplies of grain-fed and lucerne-finished lambs. Quality was good in the reasonable offering of heavy lambs. Light lambs suitable to restock and feed were keenly sought by northern and local buyers.
Due to the increased numbers and some lambs showing dryness, competition was sporadic before gaining momentum. Well-finished trade lambs still commanded premium prices, while dryer types were discounted a few dollars.
Generally, trade lambs were $4-$7 cheaper and averaged 526c/kg cwt. Lighter weight lambs suitable to restock or feed-on sold to stronger competition. Recently shorn lambs with frame ignited bidding, selling to $115. There were plenty of store lambs lacking condition, but this didn’t deter buyers, who paid from $51-$81.20. Plainer light weight lambs suitable for slaughter sold up $3 dearer, with the better cover types making $90-$101.
Heavy and extra heavy lamb numbers were steady, with reasonable supplies over 30kg cwt. Heavy lamb prices were mostly unchanged, while extra heavy lambs firmed as the market progressed. Extra heavy lambs sold from $147-$192, or mainly 496-519c/kg.
The very mixed quality offering of sheep included all weights and grades. Demand was solid over all weights and grades. Medium and heavy mutton sold unchanged to $5 higher. Heavy ewes made from $86-$124.20, or mostly 306-322c/kg. Trade sheep sold to spirited bidding at $70-$95.20. Plain light weight ewes were keenly sought, making $46-$68.
Hamilton’s heavy lambs drop $3-$5
At the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 9073 lambs, 362 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed. Prime trade weights were well-supplied, but there were fewer 4 score heavy lambs and some plainer store crossbred lines. Processor competition from the usual buyers was slightly weaker, with not all operating fully and being more selective in the heavy and medium trade weights. There was a significant lift in the demand of light trade weight grades.
The market fluctuated and seemed to be a little easier at the latter stages of the sale once buyers had obtained numbers. Local restockers, along with Shepparton and Swan Hill, were competitive at times trying to fill orders.
Showing limited urgency, light lambs ranged from $19-$62 and $65-$80 for better quality stores, averaging around 500c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were mostly $3-$5 easier, and medium trade weights were also slightly back $1-$3.
Light trade lambs met more demand to be $6-$10 dearer. Light 2 score lambs sold from $66-$92 and light trade lambs made $94-$111, averaging 560c/kg. Medium trade weight 3 score lambs – about a fifth of the offering — sold from $109-$126, or 491-548c/kg, averaging close to 521c/kg. Heavy trade 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $122-$138, or close to 530c/kg. The few pens of heavy 24-26kg lambs made $135-$142, averaging 515c/kg. Hogget selection was limited and the better quality sales made $90-$105.
Horsham’s trade and heavy lambs $2-$5 cheaper
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5268 lambs, 354 more than last week, and 1981 sheep, 876 more.
The NLRS said it was an average quality yarding, with lambs not presenting as well as previous weeks. As a result, the usual buyers operated in a cheaper market, with trade weight and heavy lambs selling $2-$5 easier.
Lighter lambs sold mostly unchanged. Restockers were active and paid from $70-$115, with one pen selling to $135 and the lighter lots making $45-$70. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $65-$84. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $96-$114 and averaged around 540c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $117-$127 and heavier drafts made $121-$139, or 520-560c/kg to average around 540c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $135-$150 and extra heavy lambs made to $158.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades and sold to keen competition to be similar to last week. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $50-$81. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $48-$100, or 230-385c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 325c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $67-$113. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $105 and the medium weights made $75-$100. Restockers also paid from $70-$81 for Merino wethers.
About 1500 mixed age August shorn composite ewes joined to Poll Dorset and White Suffolk rams sold from $130-$206 to buyers from Ballarat, Nhill, Kaniva, Birchip, Stawell and local areas.
Ouyen trade lambs firm to $5 dearer
At the Ouyen Livestock Exchange on Thursday, the agents yarded 6480 lambs and 1647 sheep.
Export lamb prices were quoted as firm on last sale and trade lambs sold firm-$5 dearer. Mutton rates lifted by up-$5.
Export weight crossbred lambs sold from $130-$180, or 490-540c/kg, and trade weights made $100-$140, or 500-540c/kg. Light Merino lambs sold from $50-$96, or 450-480c/kg, and heavy lines made $115-$127, or 480-500c/kg.
Light sheep sold from $38-$84, or 250-340c/kg, and heavy lines made $75-$116.60, or 250-300c/kg.
Hamilton’s heavy sheep fall $5
At the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 5716 sheep.
The NLRS said the quality of the yarding was plain to good and consisted of well-covered lines of Merino wethers and ewes in all weights and grades. The usual buyers attended, but not all operating fully.
Prices remained relatively unchanged for medium weight sheep and were firm for light mutton. Heavy crossbred sheep prices came back by up to $5. More demand for Merino wethers lifted prices $9-$13. Restockers paid from $65-$94 for crossbred ewes.
Light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $42-$67 and light 1 scores made $32-$36. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $58-$80, or 234-318c/kg, averaging an estimated 300c/kg. Heavy weight mutton, 3-4 score, sold for $77-$91. Very good Merino wethers sold from $90-$105 and the medium 2 and 3 scores made $82-$100 to average around 345c/kg. Good quality 3 score hoggets sold from $88-$104 and the better 2 and 3 score rams made $60-$85.
Mt Gambier lamb prices ease $4
In South Australia at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 666 lambs, 1678 fewer than last week, and 136 sheep, 94 more.
The NLRS said a small field of trade and processor buyers attended, but not all were active. Some restocker orders sought supplies. With the lack of numbers prices eased overall.
All lamb prices eased $4 on last week. Lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold to $96 and the 3 scores made $101-$118, averaging 500c/kg. Restockers paid $50-$109. The few heavy 4 score lambs made $115-$130 and extra heavy types sold to $136. Hoggets sold to $85, heavy ewes to $84 and wethers to $80.
Katanning lambs dearer
In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5200 lambs, 200 more than last week, and 8957 sheep, 2067 more.
The NLRS said lamb prices were dearer overall. Well-presented lines sold to strong competition, with graziers bidding strongly on the store lines.
Light weight lambs sold from $54-$76 and trade weights made $85-$109. Heavy weights made from $111-$113. Lambs suitable for airfreight sold for $50-$100. Light weight store and young crossbred lambs sold to restockers and feeders made from $11 up to $96 for the better quality lines. Light plain Merino store lambs sold from $20 up to $79 for better quality lines.
Sheep sold dearer overall. Restockers paid from $26- $60 for young Merino ewes. Light young wethers sold for $48 and up to $103 for better quality lines. Trade weight hoggets sold for $65.
Mutton quality was mixed, with boner and prime ewes up $6-$9 and wethers up $10. Light ewes sold from $20-$57. Boner ewes with a fleece made $42-$70 and the better 3 score mutton sold from $50-$95. Light plain wethers sold to restockers and feeders for $48 and quality lines made up to $103. Wethers sold to live exporters for $75-$105. Rams suitable for live export made $45-$75. Young rams sold for $55 to restockers.
Warwick lambs sell to $139
In Queensland at the Warwick saleyards on Wednesday the agents yarded 1665 lambs and hoggets, and 720 sheep.
Trade lambs sold cheaper for trade and the export, light trade and store drafts were firm in a smaller yarding of lambs. The top-priced lambs at the sale weighed 58.2kg lwt and made $139 for Stone Family Farming of Dirranbandi.
Crossbred lambs 46-55kg lwt sold from $120-$131, the 42-45kg lambs made $114-$125, 36-42kg lambs sold for $101-$109 and the 35-40kg drafts ranged from $88-$99.
Mutton prices were fully firm for the larger, better yarding of sheep. Shorn crossbred hoggets 51.8kg lwt sold to $75. Trade wethers with $25 skins made to $111, or 315c/kg cwt, and light wethers with $6 skins sold to $51, or 290c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes with $4 skins made to $91, or 300c/kg, and light ewes with $5 skins sold to $49, or 240c/kg.
Sources: MLA, NLRS.