The annual disruption caused by the Christmas and New Year holidays has impacted sheep and lamb markets this week.
The holiday program break as well as producers having difficulty accessing stock water in large areas of NSW, saw yardings peak at some centres.
Many major selling centres will have just one more sale before the end of the year.
Demand for mutton in the south was aided by at least one northern processor looking for numbers from the yards as well as seeking direct sales to shore up numbers for January kill.
At Bendigo on Monday, the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) reported keener competition from processors with the mutton market $5 to $10 a head dearer to regain the corrections of a week prior.
Extra heavy crossbred ewes made from $180 to $210 and heavy Merinos from $160 to $210 for both wethers and ewes.
Lambs were mixed due to the season and the level of bidding reflected the condition and quality.
The NLRS reported that on a carcase basis, the better processor lambs held a base of 700 to 720 cents a kilogram, peaking at 750c/kg at times.
Store lamb competition remained strong with lambs showing better frames making from $134 to $153 and smaller types selling from $90 to $130.
Interstate last week, there was a record number of sheep yarded at the prime sale at Yass, NSW, with 38,000 yarded, 1500 more than the previous sale.
At Ballarat on Tuesday, a big yarding of 60,028, including 38,300 lambs and 21,700 sheep, came forward as producers looked to quit stock rather than hang on until the New Year.
A number of processors were active but the large numbers of mutton saw prices slightly easier, while lambs were dearer with some categories gaining as much as $15-$20.
Again, store buyers were active on suitable lambs in the yarding.
At the Hamilton lamb sale on Tuesday, there were 27,421 yarded, up 8000 on the week before.
The NLRS reported the yarding consisted mainly of trade weight lambs again with few heavy weights on offer.
The quality overall was very good and all the regular processors were in attendance and competed solidly, with store buyers and feeders on a market that was firm to slightly dearer.
Restockers from Horsham, Swan Hill, Ballarat, Shepparton and locals paid up to $146.
At Wagga Wagga, NSW, last Thursday, agents penned some 3000 fewer sheep and lambs.
Light lambs dominated due to the dry season and lack of water in parts of the supply area, the NLRS reported.
Store lamb orders were plentiful for the large supply of suitable light lambs.
Light and medium trade weight lambs, 18-22kg, gained $8, selling between $140 and $170, with the heavy trade 22-24kg lambs making between $168 and $180, averaging 725c/kg.
It was a mixed quality yarding of mutton.
Mutton generally eased $5 to $10 across all weights and grades.