Some exceptional prices have been recorded for store lambs in the past week.
Secondary lamb demand and competition between processors and restockers have pushed prices higher, suggesting it could be a challenging spring for buyers. The price hike has been driven by a shortage of lambs in the south, with the selling season yet to reach peak levels. At Wagga, agents yarded 33,000 lambs of which over a third was store lambs. It was the second major run of store lambs in the past three weeks. Prices were exceptionally strong for lambs returning to the paddock, with the top pens suitable for domestic slaughter topping at $148.20.
Prices for store lambs jumped $8-$10, with similar rise in rates recorded for the slaughter portion. There were very few lambs selling below $100, other than inferior nondescript types.
Light lambs destined for the Middle East regularly sold from $100-$128. Rain lifted trade rates by $5, with prices averaging 627¢/kg, while the heavy export lambs jumped $8 due in part to the lack of weight above 26kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold from $162-$202.20 to average 625¢/kg cwt. Mutton also increased on the back of rain, gaining $10-$17 to average 330-415¢/kg cwt.
Lamb markets opened up dearer in NSW and Victoria, defying spring trends.
Tight supplies helped boost demand for trade lambs at Dubbo, Bendigo and Corowa. Prices didn’t waver at Bendigo this week as trade lambs jumped $7 on the back of limited supplies of quality lambs in NSW. The best gains were reportedly for medium and heavy weights, which sold from $136-$167 to average 623c/kg cwt. National Livestock Reporting Service noted export competition stepped up, with a major southern processor wanting lambs home for Monday.
Ballarat restockers were back this week, securing well-bred trade weight lambs. They paid from $140-$150; other sales of lambs returning to the paddock sold from $87-$138.
Corowa’s offering of 13,744 lambs included good drafts of trade lambs which made from $139-$170, with lighter trade weights selling from $115-$148. NLRS said trade lambs averaged 630-650¢/kg with some pens returning more than 676¢/kg cwt. Mutton prices also surged ahead, with trade sheep making from $80-$116, while heavy sheep bounced $9-$19 averaging 386-425¢/kg cwt.
The lamb market at Ballarat gained more ground. The best lambs suitable for the super market trade sold up to $166 to average 625¢/kg. Light and medium weight lambs lifted $2-$5, making from $121-$148. Heavy lambs sold $3 dearer, selling at $160-$199. Restockers also had to step up for the limited supply of lighter lambs.