QUALITY trade and heavy lamb prices rebounded in saleyards mid-week despite mostly lower grid rates earlier in the week.
Good trade lambs are becoming increasingly scarce, with domestic buyers this week forced to follow export buyers into heavier lambs to acquire weight with finish.
Some producers this week reacted against the lower grid rates by either putting lambs into saleyards or holding them on feed, but other drafts have been forced into the markets due to water and seasonal issues in southern NSW and Victoria.
Prices for all slaughter lambs lifted in most eastern states markets mid-week, starting with Carcoar, Hamilton and Horsham on Wednesday and continuing at Wagga on Thursday. Only in a mostly store quality yarding at Mt Gambier on Wednesday did prices slump, by up to $10 for trade weights and by $3 for heavy lambs.
Despite the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for light and trade lambs registering slight falls, light lamb rates jumped up to $12 at Carcoar and $3-$6 elsewhere.
The NLRS said trade lamb prices generally lifted $5-$10 across the eastern centres and heavy lamb rates rose $7-$12.
Elders Wagga auctioneer Joe Wilks said he wondered if producers reacted against the lower hook prices early in the week, instead sending lambs into saleyards or feeding them on.
“Our yarding had a lot to do with it yesterday, every agent had a lot of good lambs, and heavy weight lambs were up to $10 better and the trades were about the same.”
Processors were “filling up at the marketplace quite heavily” in the lead-up to the Australia Day weekend, he said.
Mr Wilks said there were still heavy lambs on feed and crops yet to come in.
NLRS indicators show movement in heavy lamb rates
After Thursday’s saleyard sales, the ESDIs for lamb this week were: restockers, 515c/kg, down 17c/kg; Merino 457c/kg, down 1c; light 479c/kg, down 3c; trade 525c/kg, down 1c; heavy 540c/kg, down 1c. The national trade lamb indicator closed the week at 526c/kg and the heavy indice is at 535c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton finished the week on 267c/kg, down 8 cents, and the national mutton indicator closed at 276c/kg.
Carcoar’s light slaughter lambs lift $12
In New South Wales, at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar on Wednesday, the agents yarded 8350 lambs, 350 fewer than last week, and 6100 sheep, 100 more.
The NLRS said it was a mostly plain quality lamb yarding, with only a fair selection of trade and heavy weight lambs. Light weight lambs suitable for the air freight market and restockers made up a large percentage of the yarding. Light weight lambs sold to processors were $12 dearer, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $42-$94. Trade lambs were $5-$7 dearer, with the trade weight new season lambs selling from $90-$135, or 515-535c/kg. Heavy weight lambs were $7-$9 dearer, with the over 22kg old lambs selling from $127-$152. Heavy weight new season lambs sold to $142. Young lambs sold to restockers were $3 dearer at $60-$110. Hoggets sold to $95.
Most weights and grades were represented in the mixed yarding of mutton. The market was considerably weaker, with most grades falling $15-$20. The 2 score ewes sold to processors made $10-$48. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds sold from $40-$90 and Merinos made to $78. Heavy weight Merino wethers sold to $92.
Wagga lambs sell to $199
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 30,000 lambs, 1800 more than last week, and 10,000 sheep, 5150 fewer.
The NLRS said the yarding comprised mostly good quality lambs with plenty of weight. The usual export and domestic buyers operated fully. Light lambs were in reasonable numbers and increased processors activity helped cement a floor in prices. Most of the store orders were local with some competition from lot feeders on the better finished lambs.
New season trade lambs were in short supply and sold to stronger prices trends over all categories. Well-finished medium and heavy trade lambs were $5-$8 dearer. The better finished lambs made from $92-$142 to average 531c/kg cwt. Shorn heavy trade lambs sold to stronger competition, with prices lifting $10 -$12. Heavy shorn trade lambs averaged $142 or 550-560c/kg. Light trade lambs sold at $93-$126. Well-bred second cross lambs made from $59-$92. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were well-supplied and all buyers were eager to capture a market share. Heavy lambs lifted $12 selling from $144- $160. There was more weight in the extra heavy offering this week, with numerous pens exceeding 30kg cwt. Prices continued to build as the market progressed, hitting a top price of $199. Extra heavy lamb regularly made from $170 -$190.
The mutton market sold to stronger demand for heavy Merino ewes, with prices generally $13 dearer. The dearer trend was caused by limited numbers of heavy sheep. Trade sheep sold from $54-82 to -average 285c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes made from $90-$108, or 290-307c/kg. Sheep returning to the paddock sold from $30-$89.
Hamilton’s heavy lambs lift $5-$10
In Victoria, at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 19,960 lambs, 3698 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said a strong field of both restockers and processor buyers operated keenly throughout the market. Quality was mixed, from good to average, with 60 percent of the yarding now shorn lambs. Many of the medium to heavy trade 3-4 scores started to arrive off summer crops and feeder systems earlier due to the dry conditions.
Prices were higher, with light and light trade lambs up $3-$6 and the medium trade and heavier weights lifting $5-$10. Processors were determined to fill their orders, along with South Australian and local store buyers. Some pens of very light plain unshorn lambs lacked demand and were up-$10 and lower in isolated sales. Light 1 score lambs-the store buyers sold from $50-$78, and the better 2 and 3 scores made $63-$106, averaging 550c/kg cwt. Light weight 2 score unshorn lambs sold from $66-$90, with the light trade 2 and 3 scores making $90-$103 and averaging close to 540c/kg. Trade weight 3 score unshorn lambs sold from $102-$121, with heavier trade draft 3 and 4 scores making $127-$137. The heavy unshorn lambs sold from $140-$160, ranging from 516-553c/kg and averaging close to 535c/kg. Shorn light trade lambs 2 and 3 scores sold from $66-$101, averaging close to 545c/kg. Medium trade shorn lambs made $102-$130 and the heavy trade 3 and 4 scores, $139-$145, or 526-578c/kg and averaging an estimated 560c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $144-$148. The best of the hoggets made $74-$100.
Horsham’s trade and heavy lamb prices rise $5-$6
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5756 lambs, 1083 fewer than last week, and 2039 sheep, 1746 less.
The NLRS said quality was again good with shorn trade weight and heavy lambs in reasonable numbers. The usual buyers plus some extra competition operated keenly in a firm to dearer market.
Better trade and heavy lambs sold $5-$6 up on last week. Extra heavy export lambs reached a top of $180. Restocker competition was limited to a few pens of lambs selling from $80.50-$104 and the lighter lots from $38-$60.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $80-$85. Lighter trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$116 and averaged around 530c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $106-$123, with the heavier drafts selling from $126-$137, and they ranged from 490-580c/kg to average around 545c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $141-$155, with extra heavy export lambs selling from $163-$180. Merino lambs sold to $127.50.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades with sheep selling to an easier trend to be from unchanged to $10 down on last week and more in places. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $100.50.Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $35-$59. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $40-$75, and ranged from 200-300c/kg, with Merino mutton averaging around 280c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $55-$73, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $69-$100.50. Rams made to $56.
Hamilton sheep up to $15 cheaper
At the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 8233 sheep, 12,031 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said the sheep offering consisted of a mix of all weights and grades, with more lighter sheep. Most of the regular buyers attended the overall softer market, but not all operating fully.
Prices generally trended $8-$10 cheaper and up to $15 in the medium to heavier sheep. The light trade mutton and lighter sheep sold $8-$6 cheaper. Restocker activity was minimal, with a local buyer purchasing young ewes for $74 and Merino wethers for $85-$89.
Very light 1 score sheep sold from $15-$35 and the light 1 and 2 scores $21-$45. Medium trade weight mutton 2 scores made $44-$68 and 3 scores from $60-$84, with carcase weight costs ranging from 211-307c/kg and averaging an estimated 265c/kg. The heavy 3-5 score sheep made $70-$91 and averaged around 240c/kg. Medium weight 2 and 3 score Merino wethers sold from $53-$75 and the heavier 3 and 4 score drafts made $86-$98 at close to an average of 300c/kg. The rams sold from $20-$40.
Mt Gambier’s trade lamb prices slump $10
In South Australia, at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2217 lambs, 1114 fewer than last week, and 804 sheep, 676 more.
The NLRS said a much smaller array of trade and processor buyers attended, but not all were active. Quality was lower, with a large number of store lambs and a big increase in sheep numbers. Restocker were active as prices generally eased.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade for up to $64 and to restockers for $63-$100. A number of light weight Merino lambs sold to restockers for $40-$60. Lighter trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs ranged from $83-$95. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $102-$116 at an average of 500c/kg, a fall of up to $10 on last week. Heavy 4 score lambs were scarce and ranged from $120-$128, down $3. Only small numbers of extra heavy export weight lambs came forward and made $135-$175. Light weight ewes ranged from $23-$33. Medium weight ewes made $36-$45 and heavy weight ewes sold from $56-$76. All ewes were up to $20 lower week-on-week. Hoggets ranged from $50-$82, wethers sold to $54 and rams made $49.
Katanning rates firm
In Western Australia, at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5000 lambs, 5000 fewer than last week, and 4281 sheep, 5868 fewer.
The NLRS said prices remained firm on all categories. All the usual buyers attended and graziers picked up store lines.
Light weight lambs sold from $68-$75 and trade weights made from $69-$97. Heavy weights made $93-$110. Light weight and immature store crossbred lambs sold to restockers and feeders from $15, up to $70 for the better quality lambs. Merino store lambs sold from $5 for very light lines to $58 for better quality lambs.
Restockers paid $2-$57 for plain light store young Merino ewes and $62-$76 for the better quality ewes. Light weight young wethers sold from $32, up to $89 for the better quality. Mutton quality was mixed with the lighter ewes selling from $15-$57. Light ewes-processors made $30-$57 with a fleece while the better 3 score mutton sold from $58-$76. Restockers paid $22-$56 for Merino ewes depending on quality. Older wethers sold to processors for $48-$70, while restockers and feeders paid $18-$98, depending on weight and quality. Young rams sold to $96 and averaged $52 to graziers, while the older rams only made $10-$18 with processors.
Sources: NLRS, MLA.