The wet weather across NSW and parts of Victoria has brought with it a sense of optimism, when last week secondary lambs finished on a positive note, helped by revived restocker demand.
At the conclusion of Thursday markets, the eastern states' restocker lamb indicator averaged 815 cents a kilogram carcase weight for the month of January, tracking 49c/kg higher week-on-week.
The number of lambs returning to the paddock in NSW for January has been lower year-on-year, bearing in mind the drawn-out turn-off which occurred last year due to dry conditions.
Victoria has been rather diverse, recording a rise in restocking rates.
Second-tier and opportunity feeders have entered the market, having assessed the season and current market conditions.
Interestingly, restockers in both NSW and Victoria have lifted their weight specifications for lambs according to MLA data, with more purchases falling into the 18-26kg weight range.
The rain last week had an immediate effect on Wagga Wagga, NSW, lamb and sheep markets.
The reduced supply of lighter weight categories fuelled strong competition, especially across the lighter trade weight category, with demand coming from feedlot operators.
Restockers and feedlot buyers paid $115-$158 for lambs carrying more weight and frame, while light trade lambs to slaughter made $127-$154, to average 861c/kg cwt.
With processing plants and saleyards in Victoria, NSW and Queensland all closed for the Australia Day public holiday on Monday, competition was noticeably stronger for medium and heavy trade lambs.
Medium and heavy trade lambs sold $22 dearer.
The better finished neat trade lambs made $171-$212, to average 830c/kg cwt.
Values for heavy and extra heavy lambs were $18 dearer, with northern processors lifting prices.
Heavy lambs fetched $190-$224, while extra heavy lambs sold for $218-$260, to average 777c/kg cwt.
Demand for mutton again shifted into a higher gear, with carcase weight prices for heavy grades averaging 560-606c/kg.
Crossbred ewes in full wool reached a top price of $280.
Lamb prices at Ballarat on Tuesday went back-to-back on the dearer rates, gaining another $5-$10 across the board.
Lightweight lambs were keenly sought by restockers to average $117.
The reduced offering of trade types impacted on demand, lifting prices $6, to average 801c/kg cwt.
The excellent quality offering of heavy lambs pushed processors into bidding, resulting in gains of $9-$22.
The better end of the heavy lambs made $205-$280, averaging 800c/kg cwt.
A good run of mutton in various weights and grades sold $5-$30 cheaper.