Lamb prices have started to gather pace with tight supplies in Victoria and fewer stock locked into forward contracts and direct deals.
Good quality domestic lambs were dearer at all major saleyards on Monday, with heavy export lambs reaching a top of $220.
The mutton market is at times plateauing with some buyers not prepared to chase prices to the extreme levels seen last week, despite fewer sheep being available.
At the close of trade on Monday, the trade lamb indicator had improved 8 cents to 682c/kg carcase weight. Heavy lambs weighing 24kg plus were making 650c/kg up 8c to rest at 650c/kg cwt
The mutton indicator moved slightly higher to 525c/kg cwt - down considerably from the peak recorded early in the year.
On the supply front the fantastic season is giving producers plenty of options ahead of summer.
Northern agents said some are going to seize the moment and put more weight into lambs.
The supply of slaughter new season lambs in genuine prime condition is giving buyers a greater selection at all prime markets from the south in Ballarat to Dubbo in NSW.
There were just over 15,000 new season lambs at Bendigo on Monday marking the same numbers as the previous sale. Sheep numbers fell by 1,500 to total 7500.
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted modest gains of $3 for quality trade lambs 21-24kg.
The bulk of light to heavy trade sold from $136-$176 to average 697c/kg cwt.
The category to show the biggest improvement was heavy export lambs with all processors back and operating to normal buying capacity.
Rates jumped $9-$12 with the bulk selling from $165-$215.
Corowa in NSW yarded 9,449 lambs Monday. Quality on a weekly basis has been outstanding with plenty of weight and yield over trade and heavy classes.
A number of buyers were absent again this week, however despite this rates for trade lambs kicked $5-$7 heavy trade 22-24kg sold from $146-$166 averaging 714c/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs continued to surge ahead as higher slaughter rates offset by increased global demand.
Heavy lambs 26-30kg made from $173-$198 to average 637c/kg cwt.
Young lambs weighing over 30kg cwt gained $29 making from $206-$229
Mutton rates showed some improvement with rates up $2-$6, with the bulk of the offering averaging 550-589c/kg cwt.
There was a big change in rates on at Ballarat on Tuesday with exporters giving a lot of support to lambs weighing more than 24kg carcass weight.
Theses sold to $198 and there were a lot more sales above $190 to average 754c/kg cwt.
Trade lambs picked up $10, making $154-$197 to average 765c/kg cwt.
- Leann Dax is an NLRS market reporter.