Spring lamb prices are charging ahead on the back of a shortage of well-finished lambs in the north and south.
Heavy trade lambs are returning more than $170 for the better types.
The price rises come after the average-sized yardings of well-finished lambs almost halved at some major northern selling centres. The total number yarded of well-finished trade and heavy lambs has fallen on traditional spring yarding supplies, helping the lamb market push higher.
More than 35,000 lambs were yarded at Wagga on Thursday, with an influx of plainer lambs under 20kg carcass weight. The rise agents said has been minimal rain across the supply area, with dry land pastures and lucerne stands struggling to grow.
Agents at Wagga agreed it was the dearest spring market in memory and prices were unprecedented over all classes of lamb. The lowest plain bag lambs rarely dropped under $100, with interstate restockers cementing a floor in rates.
Heavy lamb rates soared, driven by a shortage of heavy lambs in the north. Fletchers International at Dubbo dominated the market, buying the bulk of the heavy weights. A large number of heavy weights sold from $180-$208 to average 630¢/kg cwt.
Trade lambs bounced $8-$13, with all processors bidding enthusiastically. Lambs 22-24kg regularly made from $148-$178, with the top pens pushing over 650¢/kg cwt.
Rain last week became a game changer in NSW, giving producers confidence to hold lambs rather than continue to offload at a lighter weight. Most indications point to a bumpy ride ahead for processors as they go in search of well-finished lambs. Feedlot and restocker demand has also supported prices this week, with both sectors operating strongly.
In opening sales in NSW and Victoria, prices didn’t falter with selling centres recording dearer trends. All eastern states lamb indicators were up week-on-week after trading Monday, with the trade lamb indicator sitting at 627¢/kg cwt.
At Corowa, numbers lifted to 16,826 – just more than 3000 more. Recent rain across key lamb producing areas saw robust demand for the limited supplies of extra heavy lambs with prices kicking up by $10, topping at $200 to average 650¢/kg cwt.
Trade weight lambs were $3-$6 higher, with well finished domestic types making from $150-$174 to average 654¢/kg cwt. Restockers were out in force, paying form $90-$146.
In the mutton run, rates continued their impressive run with further rises recorded. Good lines of Merino ewes jumped $10, making from $105-$141, while the weather portion sold to a top of $145.
The heaviest cross bred ewes gained $13 averaging 422¢/kg cwt.
At Bendigo, numbers declined. The National Livestock Reporting Service said quality dropped away, with lambs plainer than the previous week.
Despite this, prices were buoyed by strong competition from domestic processors. Trade lambs sold at $130-$170, with the bulk averaging 609-620¢/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were limited, selling from $162-$190 and averaging 606¢/kg cwt. Fletchers International drove the mutton market higher due to limited supplies in the north. Excellent lines of ewes some off shears sold $11-$16 higher to average 360-341¢/kg cwt.
In a bigger yarding at Ballarat, lambs were mostly unchanged with limited supplies at the top end. Trade lambs averaged 617¢/kg, while the heavy portion sold from $160-$197.