Mutton prices surged to new price levels boosted by a shortage of supply and recent rain, which propelled rates into uncharted waters.
The eastern states' mutton indicator last week closed at 672 cents a kilogram carcase weight nationally; a massive 255c/kg above year-ago levels.
The steep jump in mutton rates is most certainly a reflection of the tightening supplies across the country, and good rain in northern NSW and western areas compounding the shortage of supply.
At the Wagga Wagga, NSW, prime sheep and lamb sale on Thursday, sheep numbers lifted to just over 10,000.
Heavy crossbred ewes recorded the top price of $298 a head.
Trade mutton was also a feature of the market, gaining $20.
The better trade sheep regularly sold above $190, spurred on by northern processors to average 730 cents a kilogram carcase weight.
Heavy Merino ewes sold from $170-278.
Wagga agents said it was the dearest market they had witnessed.
One bystander lamented, "it's not surprising these higher rates, given we only had 10,000 sheep, when you consider slaughter numbers for two of the biggest processors, it's not even a day's kill".
In the interim, lamb prices were cheaper as buyers became more selective.
Trade lambs topped at $235 to average 924c/kg.
Heavy lambs were unchanged, making $240-$330.
Secondary well-bred lambs were limited and there wasn't the intensity of the previous sale, slipping $10-$15.
The bulk of the store lambs made from $96-$177.
Lamb numbers at Bendigo lifted, drawn out by the dearer trends last week.
The quality was very good, with most agents selling drafts of well finished supplementary fed lambs.
Trade lamb prices benefited from solid restocker and feedlot competition, as confidence grows on the back of strong winter price predictions.
All major lamb categories recorded dearer trends of $5-$20, with the most obvious being increased demand for heavy export lambs.
Heavy lambs topped at $360, to average 943c/kg cwt.
Trade lambs sold at $184-$236, to average 946c/kg cwt.
Sheep prices rallied by $35 for Merino wethers.
Merino wethers 24-26kg sold at $173-$275, averaging an incredible 805c/kg cwt.
The bulk of the heavy mutton sold at $162-$275.
At Ballarat on Tuesday, lamb numbers dipped by 21,544 to total 30,611.
Lambs to feed-on were keenly sought after, topping at $211.
Trade lambs sold to stronger demand, making from $173-$239 and averaging 958c/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs were on fire, jumping $29 to set a new national lamb record of $380, to average 967c/kg cwt.
Mutton showed a dearer trend of $3-$9, averaging 685-740c/kg cwt.