For the first time in years, producers who've invested to grain finish lambs at heavier weights aren't being rewarded on a cents per kilogram basis.
The trend has clearly emerged now the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) is back in full swing after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Data shows, per kilogram, trade lambs are tracking comparatively better than the same time last year, yet heavy lambs for the export market are not fairing as well.
Export markets have been struggling since the industry suffered repercussions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the NLRS, last week trade lambs were priced 111 cents per kilogram better than the same time last June, landing at 938c/kg carcase weight.
Heavy lambs however, were just 22c/kg better than the market a year ago, averaging 907/kg cwt.
Nutrien Ag Solutions Wagga Wagga livestock manager James Croker said from a cents per kilo perspective, genuine trade weights lambs - 20 to 24kg are making up to $9.20/kg or more.
"Export lambs are more in the $8 to $8.50/kg bracket and then the heavier you go, 85- 90kg, they are making under $8/kg," Mr Croker said.
"It sounds great in dollars per head, they are pushing that $300 mark, but when you work it out on the rate per kilo, they are only $7.50 to $7.60/kg."
He said because of the better season, there probably aren't as many lambs on a full grain ration as there would have been this time last year.
"A lot of them are probably grain assisted, but on crop as well," Mr Croker said.
"Plus grain is cheaper so input costs aren't as high. But there are always going to be producers that like those big dollars per head and they think it's not costing them as much to produce it so they are happy to still get the weight on them."
Nutrien Ag Solutions Bendigo livestock manager, Nick Byrne, said producers who are feeding lambs to hit 27kg nearly need to get to 35kg to justify it dollars per head.
"But nobody knew when they started feeding lambs that the industry was going to end up in the position it is in," Mr Byrne said.
"The COVID-19 situation has really hurt the export market, but not so much the domestic market.
"Feeding lambs is not the sort of thing you can chop and change over night. If you set a goal and feed towards that, then you have to pretty well continue down that track."
In the midst of a better season, Mr Byrne said producers will have difficult decisions come spring as they assess whether to take lambs through to export weights.