The bet on wet weather up north drove the mutton market higher last week at Wagga, as processors scrambled to secure loads.
Bidding was dominated by Fletcher International at Dubbo, NSW, who shifted gears on the prospect of tightening supplies, leaving other export companies peering through the dust.
The yarding of 7200 sheep, comprised mostly of medium and heavy mutton, and saw heavy crossbred ewes reaching a top of $159.
The National Livestock (NLRS) data showed prices jumped $4-$18 for medium heavy weights.
Merino wethers sold to $155 to average 429c/kg, while other sales averaged 385-423c/kg cwt.
Trade weight and light sheep gained $8-$18 averaging 427c/kg cwt.
A shortage of good quality trade lambs has forced up rates with reports that producers are finding it hard to finish lambs and processors are struggling to fill loads from physical markets.
It saw rates rise at Wagga on Thursday despite the bigger offering of 26,600 lambs.
Rates climbed $3-$5 higher for well finished lambs to average 638c/kg cwt.
Stronger prices for well-bred lambs returning to the paddock were achieved by under-stocked local and interstate restockers who reacted to the forthcoming rain paying up to $6 more.
Holding their value were Merino trade lambs.
The main run of trade weight Merino lambs fetched $148-$166 to average 613c/kg cwt.
Prices strengthened in early trade this week as the market built on tighter supplies of quality stock, giving rise to stronger competition from domestic and export buyers.
Lamb supplies remained tight at Bendigo on Monday with less numbers of well finished trade and heavy export lambs.
The National Livestock reporting service said domestic processors paid premium rates for shorn 21-22kg lambs with rates hitting 660c/kg cwt, however, these sales were isolated.
Lead pens of trade lambs sold from $140-$164 to average 610c/kg cwt.
The best of the results were achieved for some pens of first cross extra heavy lambs which were up to $8 dearer while other heavy lambs generally lifted $2-$3 averaging 595ckg cwt.
An example of the stronger demand due to the general rain further north was for heavy sheep when processors drove crossbred ewes $17 higher to average 385-399c/kg cwt.
The recent lift in wool rates inspired restockers who put a floor in the market, with ewes returning to the paddock fetching $40-$120.
The lamb market at Ballarat lived up to expectations on Tuesday notwithstanding the bigger yarding of 23,140 which equated to almost 5,000 more.
The bigger numbers had no effect on rates with the market gaining $4 for heavy lambs recording a top price of $230.