With summer done and dusted, lamb prices continue to fluctuate as buyer demand varies from sale to sale.
Rates may be tested in March and April with Victoria Labour day Monday and the Easter holiday break looming.
Traditionally these public holidays put pressure on prices, with more lambs than slaughter space available.
The softer market signals out of NSW last week suggest price variations could impact the Victorian markets this week.
Price trends at Wagga Wagga and Griffith saleyards varied, with a number of influences at play.
Firstly, the mixed quality of lambs and skins has been blamed for some of the erratic trends. Secondly, participation from both domestic and export buyers was patchy at times.
The slaughter quality of trade lambs was variable, as the dry season continues to impact on their finish. Well shaped pens of 22-24kg trade lambs with little or no skin value hovered around 662c/kg with odd spikes to 708c/kg cwt. Well finished drafts with good skin length averaged 640c/kg cwt. Major domestic processor competition has dimmed in the past week, due to more attractive over hook prices.
Heavy lambs prices regained last week’s losses making from $175-$236. A single pen at Wagga weighing 38kg reached a top price of $240 with most sales averaging 630-654c/kg cwt.
Demand at Bendigo was weaker on Monday due to a mixed offering and a lacklustre performance from both domestic and export buyers. National Livestock Reporting service (NLRS) said export competition was weaker, which contributed to a dip in prices of $14-$19 to average 574-617c/kg cwt.
Rates for trade lambs were back $10-$20, with most of the lead runs of trade lambs making $140-$162 averaging 642c/kg. There was steady competition for lightweight MKL lambs due to the limited supplies. The better bred drafts made to a top of $135, but a large number continued to sell at $73-$125.
Meanwhile, sheep prices lost significant ground after the market reacted to the oversupply of sheep selling direct to processors. Heavy ewes dipped $20 to 345c/kg cwt. Trade mutton sold from $67-$104.
Ballarat lamb numbers declined by more than 10,000 with just over 12,000 lambs and 13,496 sheep penned. Prices fell $9-$10 for heavy and extra heavy lambs. Heavy lambs made from $158-$190 to average 625c/kg.
A mixed selection of lightweight lambs suitable to turnout meant rates were variable. Well bred store lambs fetched $93-$123. The NLRS quoted ewe trade mutton sales $5 easier averaging 350c-414c/kg. Heavy wethers sold from $84-$110 to average 271c-303c/kg cwt.