Lamb markets remain unpredictable, with prices fluctuating depending on quality and supply.
The one positive trend by the end of last week was strong competition and higher prices for trade and heavy export lambs.
At Wagga and Griffith, prices were anywhere from firm to $8 dearer, with drafts of dry, longer-wool lambs harder to sell.
Pens of heavy grain finished shorn lambs offering weight and yield commanded premium prices, making from $170-$228 to average 625¢/kg carcase weight.
Top quality drafts of young fresh trade lambs in good clean skins pushed over 660¢/kg cwt.
But such prices were isolated with most sales $8 dearer. Lighter weight lambs sold to varying rates.
In the sheep market, the price gap between heavy and light mutton widened considerably, with lighter weight rates falling away as more numbers came forward. Light grades slipped $2-$5 to average 286-300¢/kg cwt. Medium and heavy mutton rates took off in the opposite direction lifting $5-$14 to record a top price of $155, averaging 358-419¢/kg cwt.
At Corowa, lamb numbers dropped by 1652, with 5669 lambs penned with 2895 sheep. The reduced supplies gave the market a boost and rates improved by $2-$3. The trade lamb market was quoted by the National Livestock Reporting Service at $2-$5 dearer, with most trade lambs tracking above 620¢/kg cwt. Heavy lambs generally sold for more than 629¢/kg cwt making from $157-$215.
The mutton market contained some good lines of sheep and prices were generally dearer, with the offering averaging 404c-426¢/kg cwt.
At Bendigo, the lamb market opened dearer.
Trade market prices lifted $3-8 despite an absent buyer and other processors not operating to capacity.
Rates for trade lambs varied depending on competition; the better quality drafts fetched from $133-$165 to average 629¢/kg cwt.
Diminishing supplies of heavy lambs helped kick prices along $3-$9, averaging 590¢/kg cwt.
The market for lambs at Ballarat showed a step up in demand, with most processors providing stronger competition. The better finished neat, well shaped trade pens topped at $168, gaining $1-$2 to average 635¢/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs were $3 dearer and made from $166-$229 to average 613¢/kg cwt.
There was a good selection of store lambs offered, and overall the market was $2-$9 dearer to top at $134.
There was plenty of weight in the mutton yarding and the best heavy sheep lifted $10-$16, averaging 393¢/kg cwt.
Medium weight drafts sold $5-$13 higher to average 350-380¢/kg cwt. Light sheep sold at $24-$63.