The seasonal shortage of top quality lambs gave markets a big boost last week, with prices improving $10-$20 for the better pens.
The extremes in seasonal conditions across Victoria and NSW have caused fewer well conditioned lambs to be sold and even off-types (dry, longer wool) have been rewarded.
Agents and processors both agree a supply shortage of finished lambs as we move towards winter will prove challenging until the next new season lambs start to roll into selling centres.
This was apparent at Wagga Wagga, when only 23,000 lambs were penned.
The tighter supplies of light trade lambs meant processors contended with strong competition from lot feeders, which resulted in sales lifting $10 for the shorter skinned pens. The best trade lambs hit 640c-670c/kg cwt and at the top end of the domestic lamb market, buyers paid from $144-$170 where exceptional pens met the strongest demand. The better rates however, were only for select domestic orders. Heavy lamb rates bounced around, but strengthened mid-sale, with pens of lambs weighing above 30kg cw reaching a top price of $243. Overall, heavy lamb values jumped $25 making from $173 to $242. There was limited selection of store lambs, with a bright spot being for pens of shorn young lambs, which sold for $93-$122. Heavier lamb suitable to feed-on made $120-$153.
Lamb prices surged, fuelled by reduced supply, lower Australian dollar and better competition from domestic and export processors heading towards autumn.
Impressive results were recorded at major markets on Monday, with isolated sales of heavy lamb making $230-$240. It follows price lifts of $10-$20 in some categories as meat buyers, feedlots and restockers compete.
There was 13,000 lamb and 3800 sheep at Bendigo on Monday - 3800 fewer than the previous sale. Bidding had some urgency fuelling another $10 price gain for domestic lambs across most categories, to average 693c/kg. However, there were sales hitting above 700c/kg cwt. The heavy export market was exceptionally strong with heavy lambs recording a top price of $240 to average 669c/kg cwt.
The mutton market opened on a stronger note, with prices jumping across the board $12-$30. Full wool heavy merino ewes made $115-$125, while heavy crossbred ewes topped at $165. Light and medium grades made $53-$114 to average 429c/kg cwt.
The mixed quality offering of trade lambs and stronger demand drove much of the price increase at Ballarat on Tuesday. Trade lambs gained $8-$18 to average 765c/kg cwt. Heavy export lambs were firm to $9 dearer averaging 630-686c/kg cwt.