Lamb prices softened late last week as the market reacted to the Australia Day public holiday.
National Livestock Reporting Service quoted Thursday’s Wagga Wagga market down $3-$7. Buyers said they had plenty of over the hooks lambs booked in prior to the holiday. The market wasn’t helped by the plainer yarding of 19,000 lambs, as producers opted to turn off mediocre old longer-wool lambs and shorn lambs affected by the hot weather and requiring more finish. The other main factor weighing the market down was less competition from major domestic and export processors.
At Wagga, the majority of trade lambs 22-24kg carcass weight were sold for 600-624¢/kg cwt, with the better grain fed pens averaging 630¢/kg cwt. The only lambs to stay above 630¢/kg were lighter store lambs, where fresh shorn lambs commanded premium rates.
The rise in the market of lighter weight lambs at northern markets has created opportunities for restockers, with buyers paying up to $6 less for plainer conditioned lambs as local buyers back away from competition due to the hot dry summer.
The better bred secondary lambs were $5 cheaper than recent markets, topping at $128. Demand for mutton at northern markets remained soft and not all processors have operated.
Heavy sheep eased $3 making from $112-$157.20. Younger ewes returning to the paddock sold at $177-$189. Trade sheep sold from $70-$124 to average 400-425¢/kg cwt. Despite the pressure of tightening supplies, the lamb markets opened up cheaper in Victoria and NSW this week.
Bendigo agents reported a smaller mixed yarding of 12,238 lambs and 2500 sheep on Monday. Demand from domestic processors was more selective as summer pressure mounts. Well finished trade lambs were unchanged to $4 cheaper, making from $124-$163. Heavy lamb competition from exporters was softer, following the weaker trend. Prices fluctuated depending on the level of competition from domestic processors and major exporters. Most extra heavy lambs sold at $160-$214 to average 609¢/kg cwt. Store lambs sold to mixed price trends, due in part to the large selection of plainer types. Mutton supplies were depleted and numbers were mostly made up of smaller pen lots of crossbred ewes and Merinos.
Ballarat’s sale on Tuesday was a bright spot with all buyers operating keenly. Lambs were mostly dearer as the market responded to lower numbers. Trade lambs were a highlight, gaining $7 amid reports supplies at northern meatworks have tightened. NLRS data showed a reasonable percentage of the yarding with good weight, which helped lift rates $4.