The lamb prime market might have developed the wobbles over the past week, but store prices remain solid with crossbred ewes scanned in lamb selling up to $280 at Barellan, NSW, while unjoined ewes made to $300.
Processors and agents thought there was a price correction looming, with the backlog of direct to work lambs still waiting for kill space.
In spite of reduced numbers at some centres, Bendigo and Ballarat last week led the price falls of $10-$20 and more with most classes affected.
At Wagga Wagga lamb sale prices were hammered over all weights and grades.
The market for heavy export lambs was unpredictable with prices bouncing around for most of the sale. The best results were achieved for lambs weighing 38kg cwt topping at $212, while there was a greater price variation for lambs 26-30kg.
Heavy lambs dipped to a low $158 before recovering for the heavier pens to reach a top of $198.
Despite the quality offering of grain fed heavy lambs, values were $21 lower to average 584c/kg cwt.
Trade lambs took a hit falling $12, with several companies not operating. Feedlot buyers however, took over the reins, purchasing the bulk of the trade lambs for forward contracts in April, paying from $127-$158.
Lamb numbers decreased across early sales this week. At Bendigo on Monday numbers dropped by more than 3700 to 14,280, as last week’s cheaper trends discouraged some from selling.
At Dubbo on Monday numbers dropped by 3000 to 17,015. The NLRS said the yarding was plainer while at Bendigo the yarding was mixed, with plenty of lighter weight lambs.
Despite the mixed quality, prices were firm to a few dollars dearer at Bendigo for the top drafts of trade lambs. Strong competition from Swan Hill, Lake Carjellico and Wycheproof store buyers helped create a floor in lighter trade lamb rates.
Prices ranged from $126-$164 to average 630c-650c/kg cwt. Store buyers wanting lambs with weight and frame paid $119-$137, averaging 597c/kg cwt.
Heavy export lambs gained $6-$12, while extra heavy lambs fetched $150-$200 to average 642c/kg cwt.
In Corowa numbers declined, with quality export and trade lambs unchanged to $3 better on the back of last week’s cheaper trend. All sheep were $5-$7 cheaper. Heavy Merino ewes $103-$140, trade sheep $66-105, light grades $25-$55.
Ballarat reported a slump in numbers on Tuesday, with 9000 fewer lambs. Medium and heavy trade lambs sold to stronger demand, lifting $10, while heavy lambs gained $25 topping at $237 to average 637c/kg cwt.