The outlook for lamb remains strong as southern Victorian producers begin the annual turn-off in lambs in earnest.
Many Hamilton producers are just a few weeks from selling lambs in big numbers because of warmer conditions across much of central and western Victoria. The market looks set to remain strong into the critical selling time, as there has been a rapid decline in the quality of northern lambs.
Last Wednesday at Hamilton, numbers ramped up to just more than 19,000 lambs and 3906 sheep. National Livestock Reporting Service said there was some outstanding drafts of new season lambs, with prices $3-$7 dearer for better quality medium and heavy weight types. Heavy trade weights sold from $145-$165 to average 619¢/kg cwt.
In contrast, northern trade lamb prices hit 650¢/kg cwt, rewarding producers able to hold numbers due to dry conditions. The eastern states heavy lamb indicator closed on Friday at 623¢/kg carcass weight, while trade lamb indicator was not far off at 627¢/kg.
These are some of the higher rates for the month, and sales late last week saw lifts of up to $9. Prices are rising despite more lambs being sold in the south. One agent said weather and reduced numbers of finished lambs in the north had helped the rise in rates, with recent rain spurring prices and producers confidence.
A pre-summer surge in lamb prices at Wagga lifted rates by as much as $10 in isolated sales of fresh shorn trade lambs. Gains continued over all weights and grades despite the yarding comprising of 60 per cent store conditioned lambs. Shorn new season trade lambs regularly sold from 644-666¢/kg cwt, while longer wool trade lambs averaged 652¢/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs were limited and a northern processor dominated this end. Lambs 25-28kg sold from $168-$198 to average 641¢/kg cwt. Most sales of store lambs exceeded $100. Light weight inferior lambs jumped $30, with local restockers paying $90-$111.
The market continued to hover around the 620¢/kg mark in opening trade on Monday, despite rising numbers of plainer trade lambs.
Prices at Bendigo showed little price change for trade lambs, while heavy lambs lifted $6 as buyers scramble for weight. NLRS quoted the main run of supermarket type lambs ranged from $136-$170, averaging 620¢/kg cwt. There was a sale of $190 for heavy lambs and only a dozen pens selling over $170.
Numbers soared at Ballarat to just under 50,000 lambs and 9313 sheep. Quality was mixed with a lot of lambs needing more finish. Trade lambs eased $1-$4 averaging 622¢/kg. Heavy export lambs made from $164-$202, averaging 614¢/kg.