Trade and heavy lamb prices continued to stabilise in saleyards early this week with quality drafts consistently making 580-630c/kg, underpinned by stronger domestic competition.
Domestic competition also kept a floor in export weight lamb rates as supermarkets continued efforts to buy quality.
Charles Stewart and Co auctioneer at Ballarat, Jamie McConachy, said lamb rates had stabilised over the last three weeks. He said 600c/kg cwt was becoming very common in saleyards and over the hooks.
“I think it is simply supply and demand; we are running out of numbers week by week and consequently the job is getting dearer and dearer.
“That will probably remain the trend for the next month I would imagine, before new season lambs hit the northern markets.”
Mr McConachy said the strength in the market was in the trade lamb sector, although prices of $200 a head were becoming more common.
“That is certainly a good result.”
NLRS indicators rising again
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted its Eastern States Daily Indicators as improving across the lamb and mutton categories, especially for restocker, Merino and light slaughter lambs.
The ESDIs for lambs are: restocker 563c/kg, up 10 cents; Merino 545c/kg, up 8c; light 555c/kg, up 10c; trade 583c/kg, up 2c; heavy 591c/kg, up 2c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted one cent to 583c/kg and the heavy lamb indice is up to cents to 592c/kg.
With the national sheep offering declining rapidly, the ESDI for mutton rose dramatically by 17 cents to 394c/kg and the national indice was up 18 cents to 395c/kg.
Over-the-hook lamb rates rising
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates moved higher this week, however the majority of processors kept their rates firm. Mutton rates were unchanged across all weight ranges.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lamb are: 18-20kg, 510-620c/kg, up 6 cents; 20-24kg, 550-620c/kg, up 6-7c; 24-26kg+, 550-580c/kg, up 8c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450-530c/kg, no change. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 320-340c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 350-360c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 340-370c/kg, nc.
In Victoria, the NLRS said lamb over-the-hook rates continue to edge higher this week, with trade weight lambs averaging 595c/kg cwt. Mutton rates remained firm week-on-week.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 590c/kg; 18-24kg, 580-620c/kg; 24-26kg, 580-590c/kg; 26kg+, 580c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 310-370c/kg; 18-24kg, 350-380c/kg; 24kg+, 330-350c/kg.
In SA, the NLRS said lamb over-the-hook rates lifted this week, with trade weight carcases averaging 585c/kg cwt. Contributors left mutton rates unchanged.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 550c/kg; 18-24kg, 550-620c/kg; 24-26kg, 550-580c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 520c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-320c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 330-370c/kg, nc.
This week’s updated over-the-hook rates for Tasmania and Western Australia were not available when this report was published.
Dubbo’s heavy lambs $5-$9 dearer
At the Dubbo saleyards on Monday the agents yarded 11,940 lambs, 3320 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said the plain quality yarding had a large percentage of light weight lambs lacking finish and limited numbers of well-finished trade and heavy weights. Light weight lambs were $4-$7 dearer, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $60-$106. Lambs to the restockers were also dearer, selling from $60-$116. Trade lambs were $3 dearer, with the 18-22kg 3 scores selling from $104-$139 to average 582c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $5-$9 dearer, with the over 22kg cwt 4 scores making $136-$194. Merino lambs were $6 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $96-$129.
Most grades were represented in a mixed quality mutton yarding. The market was solid, with most grades selling $4-$7 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $55-$88, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $83-$137 for crossbreds and $115 for Merinos. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $88-$128.
Tamworth lambs lift $7-$10
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2000 lambs, 470 fewer than last week, and 1000 sheep, 100 fewer.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to good, with quite a few lightweight Merino lambs penned. There were fair supplies of well-finished crossbred lambs suitable to the trade and export orders. The usual buyers attended.
Demand for the limited supply of good trade weight lambs increased and lifted prices $5-$7. There was limited restocker competition on crossbred lambs. However the market trend was firm to $10 dearer. Export weight lambs sold to a dearer trend with competition from trade buyers. The market improved by $7-$10. There were dearer trends through all classes of sheep with the limited numbers creating increased competition.
Forbes lambs lift $3-$5
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 24,250 lambs, 1466 more than last week, and 4600 sheep, 568 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was also similar to that of previous sales. There were good numbers of well-finished lambs along with the plainer pens. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were well supplied. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market. Light lambs sold from $103-$108. Trade weights lifted $3-$5, with odd sales more. Prices ranged from $114-$148. Heavy lambs lifted $5 to sell from $143-$165. Extra heavy weights were firm to $3 dearer and sold from $155-$204. Carcase prices averaged from 582-636c/kg. Trade weight Merino lambs sold from $96-$138.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was mixed. Some handy lines of heavy sheep were offered. Prices lifted, with Merino ewes selling from $78-$126. Crossbred ewes ranged from $88-$130 and Dorper ewes made $76-$99. Merino wethers sold from $82-$129.
Bendigo lambs $4-$10 dearer
In Victoria, at Bendigo on Monday, the agents yarded 15,233 lambs, 2100 more, and 4605 sheep, 972 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained mixed, with a lot of lambs lacking finish and fat cover due to the dry season. All the usual buyers operated and competition was stronger, most noticeably from domestic and supermarket buyers who again pushed into heavier weights of up to about 27kg cwt to access better quality. Competition from exporter buyers on heavy lambs over about 28kg cwt was still limited.
The market was dearer by about $4-$10 across most grades of slaughter lambs. Prices reached a top of $204 for a stand-out pen of extra heavy lambs, estimated to be 34-36kg cwt with a $9 skin. The better lines of light weight lambs sold for slaughter from $90-$120. Restocker interest was selective on some of the very poor conditioned 1 score lambs which sold from $17.60-$53.
Demand for lambs suiting domestic orders was strong, with most of the better quality pens making $135-$165. On a carcase basis averages were nearing 600c/kg cwt across runs. Domestic buyers paid to $172 for lambs estimated at 27kg cwt. Heavy lambs suiting domestic orders made more on a carcase weight basis than those that sold to export companies. Most heavy lambs which sold to exporters made from $160-$188, with one pen at $204.
The mutton sale also showed a dearer trend, with Merino wethers topping at $132 and heavy crossbred ewes to $130. A line of young first-cross ewes, which had been joined to start lambing in July, sold to restockers at $118-$124.20.
Ballarat lambs firm to $5 dearer
In the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 21,525 lambs, 1065 more than last week, and 6120 sheep, 494 more.
The NLRS said quality over the trade weight and heavy lambs was again good. Competition was keen, with most lambs selling from firm to $5 up on last week for the better quality trade and heavy weight lambs. Domestic orders are still pushing into the higher weight categories. Extra heavy export lambs reached a market top of $205.
Restockers and feeders were very active competing with local processors for their replacements and paying mostly from $100-$119. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $76-$105. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $102-$128. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $120-$138, with the heavier drafts selling from $131-$155, ranging from 550-630c/kg cwt to average around 590c/kg.
Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $148-$188 and averaged around 590c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $188-$205. Merino lambs sold from $125-$135, with the lighter drafts selling from $99-$105.
The sheep offering included all weight and grades. Sheep also sold to strong competition to be $2-$5 up on last week and more in places. Restockers paid from $75-$129 for some big runs of Merino wethers and also paid to $113 for joined crossbred ewes. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $45-$86. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $65-$115 and ranged from 330-420c/kg cwt, with the Merino sheep averaging around 395c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $87-$130, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $100-$136, and the medium weights selling from $92-$127, and averaging 420-430c/kg. Rams sold from $42-$89.
Dublin Merino lambs lift $12-$16
At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8925 lambs, 2242 more than last week, and 1293 sheep, 315 more.
A generally good quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to erratic competition by the usual local and interstate, trade and processor buyers. Merino lambs were sought after by processors and prices lifted across most categories, while feeders were occasional bidders on crossbred lambs.
Feeders paid $80-$120 for crossbred lambs. Light weight 3 score crossbreds to trade buyers lifted $4, selling from $104-$118 and averaging 560c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $4, to sell from $120-$138 and average 561c/kg. The heavy trade weight 4 scores eased up to $10, selling from $125-$145 and averaging 543c/kg. Heavy weight 4 scores eased $5, to $138-$187, or 557-585c/kg, and extra heavy weights sold from $180-$198.
Processors were keen to secure Merino lambs and prices for the light trade weights lifted up to $13, to $104-$126 and averaging 536c/kg. Trade weight lifted $12, to $105-$122 to average 505c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted $16, making from $110-$145 to average 509c/kg. Heavy weights sold from $129-$148.
The very mixed quality sheep sold to easing demand from the usual buyers. Restockers purchased some pens of ewes for $77-$80. Light weight 2 score Merino ewes sold from $60-$85, averaging 297c/kg. The heavy weight 3 scores eased $2, making from $85-$95 to average 318c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers were scarce and sold from $90-$138 to average 370c/kg. Heavy weight rams made from $80-$112.
Naracoorte lambs $5-$7 dearer
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2786 lambs, 951 more than last week, and 467 sheep, 1018 fewer.
The NLRS said a smaller field of trade and processor buyers operated fully and a small number of restockers also competed, helping prices generally improve.
Light weight lambs to the trade ranged from $58-$100. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs ranged from $108-$115 to be up to $7 dearer. Restockers paid from $69-$110, up to $5 more than last week. Light weight Merino lambs sold from $30-$74, light trade weights ranged from $92-$98 and trade weight Merinos made $110-$132. Two pens of first cross ewe lambs averaged $163.50 to restockers. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $105-$136 at an average of 540c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $125-$162, improving $6-$8, while three pens of extra heavy lambs made $164-$189.
Lightweight 1 and 2 score ewes ranged from $84-$100, medium weight ewes sold from $100-$122 and the heavier selection made $120-$137, up $6-$8 for all ewes. Rams mainly ranged from $75-$100.
Muchea lambs prices strong
In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,639 lambs, 4189 more than last week, and 3300 sheep, 1284 fewer.
The NLRS said the yarding had good numbers of heavy and trade lambs and good supplies of lighter weight and store lambs. Quality overall was reasonably good, with solid supplies of prime lamb drafts and good numbers of secondary lambs. All buyers were present but one major mutton processor was not operating.
Prices remained very strong, with all categories firm and lighter lambs suitable for live export, feeders and air freight processors dearer. Light store lambs to restockers made $40-$71 and were dearer. Light lambs sold close to firm to processors, live export and feeders at $75-$114. Trade lambs sold from $80-$133 to be firm to $4 dearer and average 583c/kg for the prime drafts. Heavy lambs sold to a top of $151 for lambs more than 26kg cwt with a good skin.
Mutton supplies were mixed with only moderate supplies of better conditioned ewes available. Ewe prices eased slightly with light drafts from $35-$58. The 2 score processor mutton made $62-$81 to be $5 lower and heavy ewes also sold easier at $78-$90.
Wether prices were solid, driven by live export orders. Wether lambs sold well and store wethers to feeders at mostly $60-$100. Export weight wethers made $80-$120 and remained close to firm. Ram prices continued at similar levels, with ram lambs making $74-$140 and young drafts to export and feeders $60-$114. Old rams to processors sold from $40-$58.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.