Trade lamb prices surge and Ballarat sets $354 Victorian record

Terry Sim, July 12, 2019

Nathan Sheahan and Sam Hunter of Agstock take bids the record lamb sale at the South Eastern Livestock Exchange, Yass, on Wednesday. Image – SELX.

LAMB prices continued to surge in saleyards this week, despite lower numbers being offered for fewer active buyers at some centres.

Despite both major supermarkets – Coles and Woolworths – not bidding at Ballarat’s Central Victorian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the centre set a new state and centre record price of $354 twice.

And at the South Eastern Livestock Exchange at Yass on Wednesday, the Agstock agency sold crossbred lambs for district producers J.&J. Jamieson for a centre record of $342 to the Australian Lamb Company. The lambs were estimated to have a carcase weight of 38kg.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service said light lambs sold from $140-$165 at Yass. Trade weights were $3 to $6 dearer at $162-$231. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were $6-$10 dearer. Heavy lambs to 26kg made $228-$259 and extra heavy weight lambs sold from $275-$342. Carcase prices averaged 915-978c/kg.

The national lamb price record of $354.20 was set by Landmark at the Wagga Wagga saleyards late last month, but since then carcase weight prices have increased as the number of extra heavy weight old lambs on offer declined.

Just over a week after Coles released Australia first $10 a kilogram contract price for 18-26kg new season lambs delivered in August to Colac in Victoria, intense saleyard competition has consistently pushed quality trade lambs prices over 1000c/kg.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for processing lambs this week again reached new historic highs. After Thursday saleyard sales, the ESTLI for trade lambs was up 12 cents to 945c/kg cwt and the heavy lamb indicator closed up 8 cents to 972c/kg. The trade lamb indicator held firm after today’s saleyards sales and the heavy indicator rose another two cents to 974c/kg.

Ballarat market good without two supermarkets

TB White and Sons livestock manager Xavier Bourke said David and Matthew Baird of Blowhard sold 54 Poll Dorset cross lambs estimated at 44kg cwt with a $6 skin to the Australian Lamb Company for the new state record price. A line of 69 Poll Dorset lambs from KP Maher and Sons of Springbank of a similar carcase weight and skin value also sold for $354 to JBS Australia.

Mr Bourke said the market is being driven by demand and supply.

“The marketplace price is better than the hooks rate at the moment.

“The market was still very good without two big players in it.”

He said few extra heavy lambs were left to come into saleyards, although some clients still had good old lambs to sell out of feedlots.

The NLRS said agents yarded 3051 lambs at Ballarat, 8433 fewer than last week, and 13,239 sheep, 8006 more. Lambs sold $5-$15 stronger and more in places at Ballarat on Tuesday, with lines times in most weight categories selling above 1000c/kg. Several pens of extra heavy lambs sold to $354, a centre and state record, and there were eight pens that sold above $340. Export lambs weighing 26-30kg sold from $260-$320 and extra heavy export lambs 30kg-plus made $295-$354.

Feeders and restockers paid from $146-$212, with the lighter lines making $40-$130. Light weight 2 score 12-18kg lambs sold from $115-$206. Light trade 2 and 3 score 18-22kg lambs made $146-$228 to average around 975c/kg. Medium trade weight 3 and 4 score 22-24kg lambs sold from $193-$245, varying from 830-1030c to average 960c/kg. Heavy 3 to 4 score trade weight lambs weighing 24-26kg sold from $250-$266 to average close to 980c/kg. Crossbred hoggets sold from $166-$248 and Merinos made to $120.

Major NSW saleyard centres also strong

On Tuesday at the Forbes saleyards in New South Wales, the agents yarded 18,050 lambs, 3050 fewer, and 6200 sheep, 100 less. The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to that of the previous sale, with good numbers of supplementary fed finished lambs on offer. The usual buyers competed in a firm to dearer market, paying $203-$240 for some useful lines of new season lambs.

Light lambs made from $141-$166. Trade weight lambs were $3-$5 dearer at $164-$235. Heavy lambs to 26kg sold from $225-$266 and extra heavy weights made $266-$344. Carcase prices ranged from 940-990c/kg.

On Thursday at the Wagga Wagga saleyards, the NLRS said agents yarded 34,000 lambs, 1900 fewer than last week, and 5300 sheep, 3130 less.

The NLRS said the lamb market continued its impressive run helped along by the excellent quality yarding. Trade and heavy lamb categories were either grain-assisted or finished off crops.

There were reduced supplies of lighter weight lambs, with most at Wagga selling to processors, the NLRS said. Restocker activity was minimal with buyers preferring to wait for the new season lambs.

Competition for trade lambs ramped up, with a major domestic processor dominating for 21-24kg cwt lines. Processors paid premium prices for shorter-skinned lambs, which helped boost prices $4-$8. Heavy trade 22kg to 24kg made up the bulk of the offering and made $224-$258 to average 1015c/kg cwt. Merino trade lambs sold to a larger group of buyers and all categories sold to strong demand at $168-$249. Light lambs suitable for export made from $109-$168.

The NLRS said regardless of a reduced field of export buyers, prices continued to strengthen. Generally heavy lambs 24-26kg were $3 dearer at $250-$272. Despite fewer buyers competing for the extra heavy lambs, the market was still able to post dearer trends of $8-$14 to average 970-1010c/kg.


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