TRADE and heavy slaughter lamb prices dropped lower early this week as the numbers of well-finished lambs continued to decline.
Prices for well-finished trade lambs were firm to dearer, especially for quality drafts in southern markets such as Ballarat and Bendigo.
But new season light and light trade lamb prices of generally 410-650c/kg in New South Wales continue to outpace Victorian rates of 320-560c/kg.
Light and restocker lamb prices were firm to dearer, depending on quality and the level of competition between restocker and export buyers in saleyards. Continued dry seasonal conditions is dampening restocker demand in some areas.
The National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for the main slaughter lamb categories continued to decline, especially trade lambs which fell 9 cents over Monday and Tuesday. The heavy lamb ESDI lost 8 cents over the two days.
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the lamb ESDIs were: restocker 558c/kg, down 4 cents; Merinos 490c/kg, up 8c; light 527c/kg, down 1c; trade 525c/kg, down 2c; heavy 521c/kg, down 4c. The National trade lamb indicator lost 2 cents to 525c/kg and the heavy indice was down 4 cents to 521c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton finished 4 cents down at 304c/kg on Tuesday and the national indicator closed on 305c/kg, down 4 cents.
NLRS over-the-hook indicators falling in NSW
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates eased slightly this week. However, most contributors took a wait-and-see approach as saleyard prices eased late last week. Mutton rates were unchanged.
The NSW OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 480-550c/kg, down 3c; 20-24kg, 510-550c/kg, down 3c; 24-26kg, 510-540c/kg, no change; Merinos 16-22kg, 410-490c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 200-290c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 250-310c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 270-310c/kg, nc.
In Victoria, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates moved slightly higher, although most contributors left their rates steady this week. Mutton rates were unchanged across all weight ranges.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540c/kg, up 3c; 18-22kg, 540-550c/kg, up 3c; 22-24kg, 520-550c/kg, no change; 24-26+, 510-520c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 240-280c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 270-300c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 210-280c/kg, nc.
In South Australia, the NLRS said over-the-hook rates remained firm for lambs and sheep. The top price for trade and heavy weight lambs is 520c/kg cwt, while mutton ranges from 280-300c/kg cwt.
SA’s 2-4 score OTH lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 520c/kg; 18-24kg, 520-550c/kg; 24-26kg+, 510-520c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 490c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 190-300c/kg; 18-24kg, 210-280c/kg; 24kg+, 170-280c/kg.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted OTH rates for sheep and lambs as unchanged. Tasmania’s OTH 2-4 score lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 480-500c/kg; 16-18kg, 490-500c/kg; 18-26kg, 500-520c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg; 14-24kg, 270-280c/kg; 24kg+, 260-270c/kg.
Western Australia’s updated over-the-hook rates for lambs and sheep were not available when this article was published.
Dubbo trade lambs drop $11
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 19,100 lambs, 2670 more than last week, and 12,100 sheep, 4880 more.
The NLRS said there were some good runs of top heavy weight lambs and a fair selection of trade weights. Dorper lambs were also well-supplied, along with some lambs suited to store buyers.
Light weight lambs sold firm to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $77-$103. Trade lambs were $11 cheaper, with the 18-23kg 3 scores selling from $93-$133 to average 510c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs finished $5-$9 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $118-$177. Merino lambs were also around $10 cheaper, with the trade weights making $86-$115. Heavier Merinos sold to $136. The restockers and feeders paid from $87-$117. Hoggets sold to $105.
Most weights and grades were represented in the mixed yarding of mutton. Light weight ewes sold firm, while the heavier weights were $7-$9 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $28-$70. The better 3 and 4 score Merino ewes sold from $52-$111 and the crossbreds made to $100. Merino wethers in prime condition sold from $98-$110.
Tamworth lambs $5-$7 cheaper
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yards 3300 lambs and 2160 sheep, unchanged on last week.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to good, comprising mainly trade and light weights. There was a fair selection of very good heavy weights. The usual buyers attended, but demand for all classes was weaker.
Restocker activity was subdued in the face of very hot dry weather forecasts for the immediate future. Restocker and trade weight young lambs sold $5-$7 cheaper and more in places when taking breed and quality into account. Heavy weight young lambs were up to $5 cheaper. The heavy and extra heavy weight old lambs also sold $3-$4 cheaper, with some increase in weight. Trade weight old lambs followed a similar trend to the young lambs.
There was increased domestic competition in the sheep market, with trends generally cheaper and bringing pricing levels back to where domestic operators can participate.
Forbes’ trade lambs slip $2-$3
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 23,350 lambs, 4686 fewer than last week, and 8200 sheep, 1927 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to previous sales, with good numbers of finished lambs and some plainer types. A large percentage of the yarding was heavy and extra heavy lambs. The usual buyers competed in a firm to cheaper market.
Light lambs held steady at $96-$104. Trade weights were $2-$3 easier, with prices ranging from $107-$129. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were well-supplied, but slipped $5-$6. Heavy lambs sold from $127-$143 and extra heavy weights made $140-$184. Carcase prices mostly ranged from 486-532c/kg.
Most of the sheep were Merinos. Prices were strong, with Merino ewes making $72-$120. Crossbreds sold from $68-$103. Merino wethers made $74-$111.
Bendigo’s best trade lambs dearer
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 11.400 lambs, 6671 fewer than last week, and 3097 sheep, 2209 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was plainer, with most lacking fat cover and showing signs of having deteriorated due to the tough season. The market fluctuated. A push late in the sale by some buyers to fill orders also added variation.
Lamb quality and weight played a role in price outcomes. Heavy slaughter lambs were firm to $4 easier. The best trade weight lambs were often dearer, but overall price results for domestic kill lambs were weakened by the dominance of secondary types. Light lambs sold to restockers were dearer.
The market reached a top of $175 for heavy export lambs estimated at around 32-33kg cwt. Most of the heavy lambs yarded were first cross types and some lacked finish despite plenty of carcase weight. There were just two sales over $170, with most of the heavy shorn lambs making $150-$169, or mostly 505-510c/kg.
The lead pens of trade lambs sold from $128-$142, with the best making an estimated 530-540c/kg. However, plainer domestic lambs mostly made from $110-$125 and once these results were included most trade carcase prices were from 490-520c/kg. Merino lamb quality declined and they trended easier, with the best selling to $115.60.
Demand for light weight lambs was strong from restockers and processors. Light lambs sold to restockers averaged $3-$4 dearer at mostly $77-$108.
The sheep included various weights and grades, with only limited lines of Merinos. Heavy mutton was dearer. The extra heavy crossbred ewes sold to $109.20 and Merino wethers to $104. The better quality slaughter sheep were estimated at 275-320c/kg.
Ballarat’s trade lambs firm
At The Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 16,482 lambs, 3385 fewer than last week, and 8151 sheep, 5633 less.
The NLRS said it was an average to good quality yarding. The usual buyers operated in a generally firm market.
The best of the extra heavy lambs sold to $176 and heavy lambs sold $2-$4 easier. The better presented lambs suiting domestic orders sold similar to last week at $128-$141, to be mostly unchanged at around 540c/kg cwt.
Restockers were active and paid mostly $85-$128, competing with processors for replacements making most restocker lambs a little dearer. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $67-$76. Light weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $85-$118 and averaged around 530c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $114-$130 and heavier drafts made $125-$141, or 520-565c/kg to average around 540c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $133-$158 and the extra heavy export lambs made $175-$176.
The sheep included all weights and grades with most sheep selling a few dollars up on last week. Restockers also paid from $66-$92 for Merino wethers and Merino hoggets, in near full wool sold-the trade at $104. A pen of heavy Merino wethers sold at $118. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $35-$69. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $50-$89.50, and ranged from 250c-340c with Merino mutton averaging around 305c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $70-$105, with heavy crossbred wethers selling to $110. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $75-$118 with the medium weights made $65-$100 to average around 310c/kg.
Dublin’s trade and heavy lambs lift $5
In South Australia at the SA Livestock Exchange, Dublin, the agents yarded 9259 lambs, 741 fewer than last week, and 3290 sheep, 290 more.
The NLRS said the very mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to fluctuating bidding from the usual trade and processor buyers.
Light weight Merino lambs were in abundance, and feeders, restockers and processors bid surprisingly strongly. Feeder competition for light weight crossbreds was evident, although ultra-light weights were virtually ignored.
Light weight crossbred lambs sold to feeders eased a marginal $1 to $70-$104. Light weight 3 score lambs sold to processors lifted $3 to $97-$108, averaging 480c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 score lambs were scarce, easing $2 to $110-$115 and averaging 483c/kg. Heavy trade weight lambs eased $3 to $112-$139, averaging 495c/kg. Heavy weights eased $3 to $128-$155, or 480-515c/kg. Light weight 2 score Merinos sold to restockers and feeders for $42-$86. Light weight lambs sold to processors eased $3 to $74-$90. Trade weight lambs were pursued by processors, lifting $5 to $105-$123 and averaging 449c/kg. Heavy weight lambs lifted $5 to $105-$139 to average 456c/kg.
The generally good quality sheep sold to easing competition from the usual processors. Restockers were cautiously active and bought light weight ewes from $30-$40, heavy weights from $73 and wethers for $74. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $3 to $55-$72, averaging 238c/kg. Heavy weight 3 scores eased $3 to $78-$91, averaging 268c/kg. The few heavy weight wethers yarded lifted $6 to $86-$106, averaging 306c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from 56-$92.
Naracoorte’s light lambs lift $2
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1833, lambs, 1467 fewer than last week, and 1475 sheep, 115 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed. They sold to the usual trade and processor buyers. Some restockers were also active. Prices were similar to last week’s rates.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade ranged from $82-$104. Light weight trade 2 and 3 scores made $103-$110, lifting $2-$4. Merino lambs in these weight ranges sold from $70-$110. Restockers paid from $67-$98. Trade weight 3 score lambs were back $3 at $111-$125, averaging 540c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs also fell slightly to $125-$140. The few extra heavy weight lambs made to $142.
Medium weight crossbred ewes sold from $75-$78. Similar Merinos sold firm at $60-$75, averaging 300c/kg. Heavy ewes sold from $78-$103. Rams made 54-$64.
Muchea lambs lift $4-$5
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5490 lambs, 1990 more than last week, and 4233 sheep, 264 fewer.
The NLRS said more prime lambs and light lambs suitable for air freight markets were offered. Lamb quality improved, with the prime lambs generally carrying more weight and condition. Buyers were more competitive on lambs which were mostly $4-$5 dearer.
Light store lambs sold from $15-$65, up $2, with the Merino portion making $15-$50. Light lambs suitable for air freight processors and feed were also up $3, making $52-$96. Trade lambs sold from $80-$120, up $3-$5, with the prime drafts averaging close to 520c/kg. Plainer drafts averaged around 485c/kg. Heavy lambs made to a top of $129.50.
Mutton and store sales remained strong. Lighter ewes sold close to firm and heavier ewes were up to $3 dearer. Light ewes made $5-$53 and the medium weight 2 score ewes sold from $47-$62.50 to be firm. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes were $3 dearer with weight and wool length the main contributors. Heavy ewes made $63-$75, to average 240c/kg, equal to last week. Restockers were less active this week, purchasing some better mature ewes for $43 and $78. Very light and plain ewes made $15-$42.
Wether competition increased with two export orders active. Heavy bare shorn export wethers made $95-$104 and some long wool drafts made $135.50. Lighter export wethers sold from $80-$95. Restocker and feeder drafts made $47-$110 and were marginally dearer. Ram demand was firm with better ram lambs selling to $110 and live exporters paying $30-$76 for suitable drafts. Old rams sold to processors for $15-$30.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.
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