Dry spring hits lamb quality

Dry spring hits lamb quality


Markets
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After dry spring conditions the National Livestock Reporting Service reports suggest quality is deteriorating.

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Andrew Bell, from Landmark Albury, with Mark Rhodes, Daysdale, who sold 165 shorn lambs for $174.

Andrew Bell, from Landmark Albury, with Mark Rhodes, Daysdale, who sold 165 shorn lambs for $174.

Spring was a disappointment across NSW and many regions in Victoria and any useful rainfall in the three-month period came too late for many producers. Combined with hot weather early in November, the dry conditions contributed to pasture quality and quantity deteriorating, resulting in a very poor finish to the season

Southern Victoria is traditionally an area where producers can hold numbers to gain increased weight leading into the Christmas period. But while the season holds some opportunities plainer conditioned and lighter trade weight lambs will continue to make their way to market earlier rather than later.

Victoria has continued to ramp up its selling season. Hamilton over two selling days, offloaded more than 74,000 lambs last week and Ballarat agents sold 44,500.  Most southern and some northern processors are now reliant on these two markets for a share of the better finished new-season lambs. Bendigo, Wagga, Forbes and Dubbo are all struggling to present well finished lambs in any great numbers. The general theme running through the National Livestock Reporting Service reports suggest quality is deteriorating, with more store lambs in some cases than prime finished lambs.

The earlier than usual spring turnoff of young lambs at northern markets has caused an unexpected decline in quality.

This was obvious at Wagga Wagga, NSW, when lambs numbers declined to 19,800 and of that total, only one-third of the offering were suitable for trade and export processors. Each agent’s run lacked weight, while extra heavy lambs were scarce as hen’s teeth.  The best heavy young woolly lambs topped at $207 while shorn lambs reached $245. Export buyers were forced to compete alongside domestic processors for adequate numbers. The 22-24kg benefited from the stronger competition and prices gained $3 to average 701c/kg cwt.

It would appear markets opened to mixed price trends Monday with the likes of Bendigo continuing to struggle under the pressure of the season. Heavy young lambs were $15-$20 cheaper according to the NLRS.  The general run of trade lambs sold firm to $9 cheaper averaging 660c/kg cwt.

All the major export and domestic buyers made it to Hamilton’s split sale on Monday. Processors were not disappointed with plenty of weight and quality in the yardings of 23,515 lambs.

 The market was buoyant across the heavy categories topping at $238 to average 685c/kg cwt. Prices for good quality supermarket lambs were firm to $4 dearer benefiting most from the strong competition was the 22-24kg weight range.

There was plenty of competition from restockers with inquiry from Ballarat, Horsham, and the local area. Store buyer showed a preference for lambs with weight and frame paying from $89-$130.

It was a rough ride at Ballarat in a bigger yarding of 47,886 lambs and 12,500 sheep as numbers increase in the south. Price falls of $5-$13 were recorded for woolly trade lambs, while the shorn portion were mostly unchanged to average 661c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold $8- $20 cheaper topping at $239 to average 262c/kg cwt. Restockers were active paying from $90-$150.

Mutton gained $1-$7 averaging 390-450c. 

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