Lambs have kicked off the New Year as a hot ticket item for processors, with stronger buying competition and tight supplies contributing to prices up to $37 above last year.
Hot weather, too, is creating a premium for shorn lambs at northern markets as processors search for quality. A large percentage of woolly lambs are showing dryness and are sometimes being overlooked by major domestic processors, compared to shorn lines. Grain fed lambs are holding up well.
Dearer trends were evident at Wagga with buyers paying up to $193 for shorn heavy lambs and processors looking to fill orders. The bulk of the heavy lambs averaged from 524-580¢/kg cwt.
All this was in setting of dearer prices across the board for trade and lighter weight lambs. Domestic processors competition was intense, which pushed rates $10-$12 higher. The general run of trade lambs 21-24kg made impressive money, selling at $131-$152 to average 568¢/kg cwt. Light weight lambs to slaughter averaged 598¢/kg cwt.
In the mutton market quality was only average, but this didn’t deter buyers. Most grades jumped $10-$12 according to the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS). Medium weights ranged from $81-$106, while heavy crossbred ewes made from $100-$130 to average 410-450¢/kg cwt.
On Monday, the lamb market felt the impact of ongoing heat. Northern saleyards that recorded the biggest lift in rates. This was obvious at Dubbo, when trade lambs sold $14 dearer, while heavy lamb rates jumped $17-$25. The better trade lambs averaged 587¢ and heavy lambs topped at $192 to average 553-583¢/kg cwt. Light and medium mutton lifted $5 fetching from $35-$85. Longer wool Merino wethers made up to $90, averaging 306¢/kg cwt.
The seasonal shortage of top quality domestic lambs at Bendigo gave the market an edge, with prices for trade lambs hitting 600¢/kg cwt for the lead pens. Heavy lambs were limited, with only 10 pens selling above $160 to average 555¢/kg cwt. Sheep sold to keen demand, heavy crossbred ewes made from $103-$130 while a big run Merino weathers made out to $128; most sheep averaged 355-418¢/kg cwt.
At Ballarat on Tuesday, extra heavy shorn lambs prices surged $24-$37. NLRS said the top price recorded was $199. Heavy lambs 26-30kg generally made from $158-$183. Trade lamb rates jumped $10-$17, selling from $119-$148 to average 581¢/kg. Restockers and feeders were back in the game after the holiday break, paying from $90-$130.
The mutton market gathered pace, heavy crossbred ewes reached a top price of $133, while Merino wethers made out to $130 most sheep averaged 350-480¢/kg cwt.