The interruption to markets due to the Easter holiday break and Anzac day public holiday has made this trading week very short, which has impacted on lamb supplies in both Victoria and NSW.
Forbes in NSW had a greater representation of numbers due to the extremely dry conditions, with agents penning 16,500 lambs and 3650 sheep. Despite the tight supplies for both domestic and export lambs, processors backed off and prices at Forbes across trade categories weakened, with some of the better finished pens showing a $5-$12 price drop, while heavy lambs slipped $4 to average 643c/kg cwt.
In reality, however, lamb prices remain at high price levels with the best heavy lambs commanding more than $200.
A shortfall in numbers at Ballarat on Tuesday helped keep prices firm to slightly dearer. The National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) noted the lead drafts of trade lambs in each agents run remained very good. The better conditioned and fresh trade lambs commanded premium prices to reach a top price of $186. The bulk of the trade made $140-$186 with plenty of quality pens hitting the 750c/kg cwt mark.
Lamb prices remain at high price levels with the best heavy lambs commanding more than $200.
Another positive trend was Merino lambs (18-20kg) which jumped significantly selling at $132-$146, averaging 720c/kg cwt. The greatest competition was for light lambs selling to a mix of processors and producers at $91-$146. Store lambs to feed-on (16-18kg) averaged $139. Heavy export lamb prices improved due to a combination of tighter supplies.
While this week's Easter holiday distorted the market by disrupting regular Monday supplies there is speculation the market could remain in a holding pattern if the season improves.
Heavy lambs 26-30kg spiked $5 making $194-$202, while lamb weighing over 30kg cwt sold at $198-$206 to average 638c/kg cwt.
The greatest lift in rates was for heavy weight Merino ewes, where prices jumped $13-$16 selling for $141-$156 to average 542c/kg cwt. Supporting the heavy end of the market is lack of supply, with only a small percentage of the yardings presenting above 30kg cw due to the dry season. Heavy crossbred ewes sold $4 cheaper selling at $115-$163. Merino trade sheep averaged 551c/kg cwt.