TRADE and heavy lamb indicators reached their highest levels in five years mid-week, as saleyard prices surged after good rainfall across the eastern states limited yardings.
After Thursday’s saleyard sales, Meat and Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service reported 13-cent jumps in the Eastern States Daily Indicator for trade lambs to 627c/kg, and for heavy lamb to 636c/kg – levels not reached since early 2011.
In several instances at Wagga and Carcoar in NSW, and at Hamilton and Horsham in Victoria, drafts of light, trade and heavy slaughter lambs with skins valued at 0-$12 sold for more than 700c/kg cwt and restockers paid up to 800c/kg.
At the Wagga Wagga saleyards in New South Wales extra heavy lambs sold from $180-$234.20. Riverina Livestock Agents clients Jamie and Kerrie Cross sold 62 September-drop Poll Dorset cross lambs with $12 skins for their all-time top price of $234.20 to Southern Meats at Goulburn. Their second line of 73 made $220.
Mr Cross said the homebred lambs averaged 74kg lwt before trucking and were finished on grain for 4-5 weeks.
“It’s real good – I don’t whether it is sustainable or not, but we’ll take it while we can.”
RLA director Tim Drum estimated the top Cross lambs would dress at about 38kg. Although he said processors would start to wind down operations as supplies tightened he believed the lack of good lambs available would sustain prices into August. He said supermarkets paid $188 for 24kg-plus cwt lambs for $11 skins at Wagga.
Eastern states lamb yardings reduced by rain
Meat and Livestock Australia said eastern states lamb yardings reduced this week after the weekend rain, down 3 percent week-on-week to 140,608. Average weekly eastern states lamb slaughter for the year-to-date has remained in line with 2015 levels, at 355,982 head, although this is 10pc above the five-year average of 324,604.
After Thursday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs were: restocker 627c/kg, down 2 cents; Merino 568c/kg, up 9c; light 599c/kg, no change; trade 627c/kg, up 13c and heavy 626c/kg, up 13c. The national trade lamb indicator rose 14 cents to 624c/kg and the heavy indice was on 637c/kg, also up 14 cents.
Week-on-week the ESDI for Merino lambs was up 10 cents and up 12 cents for light lambs. The NLRS said the wet weather has helped the restocker lamb indicator to increase 33 cents week-on-week. Typically in winter, restocker purchases ease, hovering below 10,000 head per week at NLRS-reported markets, MLA said.
MLA said mutton supply usually contracts at this time of year, with processor maintenance shutdowns, wintry conditions and lambing taking place. Average weekly eastern states mutton slaughter for the year-to-date at 98,501 is down 4pc from year-ago levels and 12pc lower than the five-year average of 112,381.
The tighter supply helped the mutton indicator rise 17 cents week-on-week, including an 11-cent lift on Thursday to 414c/kg, the highest it has been since August 2011. The record lies at 481¢/kg, set in March 2011. The national mutton indicator is on 413c/kg, also up 11 cent son Thursday.
Seasonal processor set to escalate
Major sheep and lamb processors are expected to increasingly match their slaughter operations with supply and seasonal maintenance in July and August, after the widespread winter rains and in the lead-up to the main new season spring lamb turn-off. Normal seasonal maintenance closures are also expected to be brought forward and possibly extended depending on the supply situation in July and August.
Carcoar’s slaughter lambs lift $5-$10
In New South Wales at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7409 lambs, 6191 fewer than last week, and 1567 sheep, 2233 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said it was a much smaller yarding due to widespread rainfall in the supply area. Quality was mixed, there were several good lines of well-finished supplementary-fed trade and heavy lambs along with leaner lighter lambs. All the usual buyers operated in the dearer market.
Restocking lambs sold from $50-$122. Light processing lambs were $10 dearer at $73-$116. Medium and heavy trade lambs were strongly contested at $117-$160, lifting an average of $5, although some sales rose more.
Heavy lambs gained $5-$10 to $155-$186, with a limited number of exports weights. Trade lambs and heavy weights averaged 640-670c/kg cwt. The few extra heavy lambs sold to $200.
Sheep quality was plain. Prices were dearer on lighter sheep and firm on heavy weights. Light sheep sold from $55-$74. Medium weights made to $80-$105 and crossbred ewes to $122. Most of the mutton made 420-440c/kg.
Wagga lambs rise $10-plus
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 32,850 lambs, 5150 fewer than last week, and 6050 sheep, 3950 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair with a good number of well-finished lambs. There was a handy offering of heavy and extra heavy lambs, a good number of trade weights. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market.
Light lambs sold from $112-$124. Trade weights sold $10 dearer and more in places at $125-$165. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were well-supplied and also lifted $10 and more in places. Heavy lambs sold from $154-$186 and extra heavy weights made $170-$234. Carcase prices averaged 637-672c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $128-$184.
Sheep quality improved. Prices were strong for the better run of heavy sheep. Merino ewes sold from $82-$186, crossbreds from $84-$165 and Merino wethers made $106-$160.
Hamilton’s trade lambs average over 650c/kg
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards, the agents yarded 5910 lambs, 1267 fewer than last week, and 5604 sheep, 2188 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was more mixed with a good supply of trade weight and light lambs and fewer heavier lambs. The full winter field of buyers, less an export processor, operated in the stronger market.
The better conditioned medium and light lambs were generally $5-$10 dearer and heavy lambs sold unchanged. Restockers from South Australia paid $86-$107 for 2 score store lambs and local agents paid $20-$40 for very light 1 scores. Light weight 2 score lambs generally sold from $78-$110, with a one pen sold to a restocker making $122 at close to 800c/kg cwt.
Light trade lambs made $105-$135, averaging 650c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 scores sold from $129-$156, or 559-741c/kg, averaging 665c/kg. Heavier 3 and 4 scores made $148-$166 and extra heavy lambs sold from $168-$178, to average 609c/kg.
The mixed sheep offering consisted of all weights and grades, and mostly sold firm. Light 1 and 2 score mutton sold from $66-$82 with very light weight 1 scores making $12-$53. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $77-$100. A pen of longer wool Merino ewes made $117 and Merino mutton averaged 420c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep, 3 and 4 score, made $94-$130, averaging 370c/kg. Merino wethers, 2 and 3 score, sold from $96-$115, to average close to 435c/kg. A pen of crossbred wethers made $129. Rams sold from $67-$118 and hoggets with cover sold from $94-$132.
Horsham trade lambs $5 dearer
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 4639 lambs, 570 fewer than last week, and 1299 sheep, 869 less.
The NLRS said the quality of the lamb yarding was average to good. It included 900 Merino lambs. The usual buyers operated strongly in a mostly dearer market.
Heavy lambs made to $200, with better covered heavy trade weights selling from $146-$170 and averaging around 650c/kg. Lambs sold up to $5 better, with select pens of trade weight lambs showing the most improvement. Restocking activity was limited, with lambs selling to $105. Merino lambs mostly sold from $110-$158 at around 560-570c/kg.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $96-$104. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $114-$141 and averaged around 650c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $131-$159 and heavier drafts made $146-$170, or 615-690c/kg, to average 660c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $163-$200. Heavier Merino lambs made $126-$158 and medium weights sold for $98-$131.
The sheep yarding included all weights and sold to steady demand. A pen of shorn heavy Merino wethers sold dearer at $140. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $59-$84. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $75-$119, or 360-460c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 445c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $95-$130, heavy Merino ewes made $104-$135 and heavy Merino wethers sold for $128-$140 at around 420c/kg.
Lambs dominate Katanning yarding
In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6358 lambs, 979 more than last week, and 4000 sheep.
The NLRS said lambs dominated the mainly good quality yarding, with heavy crossbreds selling to $134.
Light weight crossbred lambs sold from $60-$90. Trade weight lambs made $93-$116. Light crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $50 and better quality lines made up to $112. Light Merino store lambs sold from $38 and heavier better framed types made to $100. Lambs suitable for air freight sold from $68-$100.
Sheep supply was again limited. Young Merino red tag ewes sold to processors for $75-$88 depending on weight and for $95-$100 to restockers. Light ewes with a full fleece sold from $50-$80 and light lines sold to slaughter made $70-$75. Prime 3 score heavy mutton sold from $78-$99. Young wethers sold for $74-$120 to processors, depending on weight, and made $53-$114 to feeder buyers, depending on frame and quality. Live export wethers sold from $85-$120. Ram lambs made $80-$110 for live export and processors paid $80. Older rams sold for $2-$75 to processors, feeders and restockers.
Warwick lambs sell to $182
In Queensland at the Warwick saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1354 lambs and hoggets, and 381 sheep.
Agents quoted the market dearer for all descriptions in the smaller yarding of sheep and lambs. The top 58.3kg lwt lambs made $182 for Carsam Pty Ltd of Nobby.
Crossbred lambs 51-55kg lwt sold from $140-$154, 46-50kg lambs made $144-$164, the 41-45kg lines sold for $136-$157 and 35-40kg lambs made $115-$128.
Shorn crossbred hoggets 50.5kg lwt sold to $112. Trade wethers with $15 skins sold to $125, or 330c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes with $12 skins sold to $138, or 325c/kg, and light ewes with $6 skins made to $60, or 295c/kg.
Tasmanian lamb market lifts $3-$7
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Killafaddy and Powranna on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1500 lambs, 200 more than last week, and 800 sheep, 200 more.
The NLRS said it was another good quality yarding, with many excellent drafts of heavy and extra heavy lambs. The market improved a further $3-$7 to reach the highest levels for the year. Restockers paid $59-$64 for very light lambs and $77-$108 for light lambs. Exporters paid $85-$100 for light lambs. Light trade lambs made $99-$109, medium trades $124-$128, heavy lines $130-$158 and extra heavies $140-$167.
The much smaller number of sheep sold to strong competition. One regular exporter didn’t operate, but mutton prices were held firm, with light sheep making $45-$63, medium weights $75-$88 and heavies $98-$116.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.