PRICES for quality trade and heavy lamb firmed in saleyards mid-week as the overall national offering dropped sharply.
Despite trade lamb quality declining in some saleyards, buyers were forced to pay $3-$5 more for supplies or push into heavier lines for finish and quality.
However, light lambs under 18kg cwt suffered a slump in price at most markets, attracting less exporter and restocker competition, often because of quality.
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted all Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb as improved, except for light lambs. After Thursday’s saleyards sales, the lamb ESDIs were: restocker 553c/kg, up 2 cents; Merino 495c/kg, up 3c; light 519c/kg, down 4c; trade 528c/kg, up 1c; heavy 524c/kg, up 2c. The national trade lamb indicator closed on 528c/kg, up 1 cent, and the heavy indice finished on 524c/kg, up 3c.
The ESDI and national mutton indicators both closed down 1 cent to 301c/kg.
Carcoar trade lambs lift $3
In New South Wales at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5650 lambs, 2150 fewer than last week, and 5800 sheep, 1300 more.
The NLRS said it was a very mixed yarding with a few lines of well-finished shorn lambs and new season lambs, and a fair percentage of lighter weights. Lightweight lambs sold to the processors were $6 dearer, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $55-$104. Trade lambs were $3 dearer, with 18-23kg new season lines selling from $102-$128. The trade weight old lambs sold from $99-$129 to average 545c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were firm to $2 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores making from $122-$150, to average 525c/kg. Restocker lambs were up to $7 dearer at $69-$116. Hoggets sold to $115.
There were some top lines of crossbred ewes yarded along with some reasonable pens of Merinos. There was also a fair percentage of lighter sheep. Lightweight ewes were firm while the better heavier weight ewes and wethers were $4-$6 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $40-$66, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $60-$92 for crossbreds and $88 for Merinos. Merino wethers sold to $92.
Wagga trade lambs $2-$5 dearer
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 21,000 lambs, 5000 fewer than last week, and 7000 sheep, 3000 less.
The NLKRS said quality slipped across all trade lamb categories. Heavy lambs were in reasonable numbers and quality was quite good. Light lambs suitable for restocking and lot feeding were keenly sought by a northern feedlot and restocking order, resulting in a dearer trend for secondary types. Due to the tightening supplies and deteriorating quality, trade lambs were $2-$5 dearer, to average 547c/kg cwt. Lighter weight lambs suitable to restock or feed on sold to solid competition from the north, with shorn pens making $87-$110. Plainer light weight lambs suitable for slaughter sold up $3 dearer, with the better-covered types making $84-$94.
Heavy and extra heavy lamb numbers dipped, with only limited supplies over 30kg cwt. Heavy lambs were mostly unchanged, while extra heavy lambs sold $7-$9 dearer. Extra heavy lambs sold from $152-$188, or mostly 489c-516c/kg.
The very mixed quality offering of mutton included all weights and grades. Demand strengthened over most categories, as buyers struggled to secure supplies. Most sheep grades sold $5-$12 higher. Heavy ewes made from $81-$109 to sell mainly from 300-334c/kg. Trade sheep sold to spirited bidding at $72-$90. Plain light weight ewes made $45-$65.
Hamilton’s better trade lambs lift $5
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 8711 lambs, 417 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said overall lamb quality was mixed, with quite good trade and heavy weight shorn lambs ideally covered for domestic markets, and many pens of plainer and light lambs caused by the dry season. Most of the usual buyers operated keenly. There was less restocker interest compared to previous weeks, but it included South Australian agents, Horsham and the usual local buyers.
Prices varied as processors paid up to $5 more for better trade weight lambs, while heavy lambs were up $3 cheaper. Light trade weight lambs fluctuated, but were mostly $2-$5 weaker. The plainer lighter grades were $5-$10 cheaper. Restockers paid $12-$72 for very light store lambs and $66-$98 for the 2-3 scores, which were generally $5-$10 cheaper, but up to $15 lower at a cwt average around 520c/kg. Light trade weight 2 score unshorn lambs sold to the processors at $79-$96, with trade weight 2 and 3 scores making $102-$122. The better covered 3 scores sold for $124-$139, or around 520c/kg. Shorn light weight 2 score lambs sold from $66-$90 and light trade lambs made $94-$116. The 3 score trade weight lambs sold from $117-$138, or 509-570c/kg, to average an estimated 548c/kg. Heavy lambs, 24-26kg, sold from $135-$138, averaging 530c/kg. Extra heavy lambs made $142-$148, averaging around 513c/kg. Medium to heavy hoggets made $98-$120.
Horsham’s best kill lambs lift $2-$5
In the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 4914 lambs, 2227 fewer than last week, and 1105 sheep, 172 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was good considering the dry season, with the usual buyers operating in a dearer market.
The better slaughter lambs generally sold $2-$5 dearer and more in places. Extra heavy lambs reached a top of $170. Restockers paid to $92 for lambs.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $84-$85. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $92-$122.50 and averaged around 550c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs made $117-$126, with the heavier drafts selling from $127-$142 to range from 520-590c/kg and average around 550c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $130-$168, with extra heavy lambs making $167-$170. Heavy hoggets sold to $100.50 and Merino lambs sold to $98.
Sheep also sold to a dearer trend, with heavy crossbred ewes reaching $117 and heavy near full wool Merino wethers making $118. Restockers paid $82.50 for shorn Merino wethers. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold to $65. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $57-$91 and ranged from 250-320c/kg cwt. Merino mutton averaged around 300c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $70-$117. Heavy Merino ewes near full wool sold from $95-$105. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $94-$118, with the medium weights making $70-$79. Heavy Merino rams reached $94.
Heavy Hamilton sheep fall $6-$8
At Hamilton on Thursday, the agents yarded 9208 sheep. The NLRS said quality dropped and there were fewer heavier lines. The usual buyers followed the mixed selection of mutton, but all operated. This was noticeable on the heavy weight sheep creating an easier market of $6-$8. Medium and light weight sheep remained unchanged to $1-$2 cheaper.
Restockers paid $34-$56 for light young Merino wethers and up to $80 for crossbred ewes. Very light 1 score sheep made $39-$58 and the light 2 score sheep sold from $54-$66. Medium weight 2 and 3 scores made $59-$80, with better drafts of 3 scores making $72-$97, or 238-315c/kg to average an estimated 300c/kg. The 4 score heavy weight sheep, mostly crossbred ewes, sold from $76-$104, or an average around 270c/kg. Heavy Merino wethers made $83-$109 and medium wethers made $71-$84, averaging close to 315c/kg. Rams of all breeds from 1-3 scores sold from $30-$64 and the best of the few hoggets made $93-$105.
Mt Gambier lamb prices fall $5-$7
In South Australia at the Mt Gambier saleyards, the agents yarded 2344 lambs, 861 more than last week, and 42 sheep, 265 fewer than last week.
A small field of trade and processors were active on the mixed quality penning. Restockers were active as prices dipped.
Lightweight lambs sold from $71-$98 and lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $101-$108. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $106-$121 at an average of 520c/kg as all lamb prices fell by $5-$7. Restockers were active in all of the above categories from $54-$112. Heavy 4 score lambs made $121-$130. Some excellent quality came forward in the extra heavy export weight lambs and they made $140-$160. The few hoggets sold to $98 and heavy ewes to $84.
Strong store demand at Katanning
In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5000 lambs, unchanged on last week, and 6890 sheep, 279 more.
The NLRS said well-presented lines sold to strong competition in a mixed yarding of lambs and sheep. All the usual buyers attended and graziers bid strongly on store lines.
Light weight lambs sold from $40-$61 and trade weights made $70-$112. Heavy weights made from $117-$121. Lambs suitable for airfreight sold for $40-$86. Store crossbred lambs sold restockers and feeders made from $20 for the lightweight and immature lines up to $85 for the better quality lambs. Light plain Merino store lambs sold from $20 and better quality lines made to $62.
Restockers paid to $56 for young Merino ewes. Young light wethers sold from $36-$89. Trade weight hoggets sold from $65-$85.
Mutton quality was mixed with light ewes up $5 to $20-$57. Slaughter ewes with a fleece made $40-$64 with a fleece, while the better 3 score lines with a 5cm skin made $50-$84. Restockers paid $46-$54 for Merino ewes. Light plain older wethers sold to restockers and feeders for $40 and quality lines made up to $89. Wethers sold to live export for $80-$95. Rams suitable for live export sold from $40-$80. Young rams sold for $81 to restockers and the old rams made $5-$10 with processors.
Warwick lamb market easier
In Queensland at the Warwick saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2444 lambs and hoggets, and 316 sheep.
With more store lambs available, the market was easier for butcher and trade lambs, while the restocker market showed an upward trend. The top-priced 56.6kg lwt lambs sold for $134 for the Shelley Family Trust of Warwick.
Crossbred lambs 46-55kg lwt sold from $120-$132, 42-45kg lambs made $114-$125, 36-42kg lines ranged from $102-$110 and 35-40kg lambs made $98-$102.
Shorn crossbred hoggets 58.3kg lwt sold to $94. Heavy crossbred ewes with $10 skins sold to $95 or 295c/kg cwt, and light ewes with $5 skins made $50 or 240c/kg.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.