Sucker lambs edging up

Sucker lambs edging up

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EARNERS: Nutrien Livestock agent, Doug Couper, Cohuna, in a pen of lambs sold account Colin & Jeff Gitsham at Bendigo Monday which topped at $215, average $195.

EARNERS: Nutrien Livestock agent, Doug Couper, Cohuna, in a pen of lambs sold account Colin & Jeff Gitsham at Bendigo Monday which topped at $215, average $195.

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While processing restrictions cause nervousness, sucker prices have been edging higher.

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Brothers Colin and Jeff Gitsham, Kerang, struck the right day to start selling their runs of prime lambs when their first drafts averaged $195 a head at Bendigo Monday.

The consignment of 134 sold in four lines to a top of $215.

The result brought relief for the brothers as coronavirus restrictions threatened to slice dollars off the value of suckers as meatworks struggled with processing limits.

"We were lucky, although it has been on a rise since three weeks ago," Colin Gitsham said.

He said the consignment was the first draft of suckers from their first-cross ewe flock.

"We normally start early to mid September and in the past few years it has been a good time to sell.

"We've been fortunate with rain this year and 10mm on the weekend would help."

The farm includes dryland and irrigated cropping and pastures.

Mr Gitsham said the sheep flock comprised around 550 first cross ewes and about 60 Poll Dorset ewes they use to breed rams.

He said they "tended to make our lambs bigger than domestic lambs".

"We prefer to run a few less sheep and try and do a good job of them," he said.

He said sheep had been on pastures of Shaftal clover, ryegrass and sub clovers and a paddock of dry-sown Wedgetail wheat.

He said they had looked at the mid-April-drop lambs a few weeks earlier and decided they could do with a bit more weight.

They will wait another couple of weeks for a pick and then another two picks before shearing the remainder to run on stubbles.

Depending on the market and feed availability, the vast bulk would be gone by early October, he said.

Hopefully the lambs will be gone before the southern lambs hit their peak, he said.

The strong market at Bendigo for heavy new-season lambs came as concerns about processing capacity eased slightly.

The Meat & Livestock Australia Market Reporting Service quoted the market as dearer, led higher by stronger export competition with all the major companies back operating at reasonable levels again.

However Australian Meat Industry Council executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said there were currently no proposed changes to restrictions.

He said they were working with Agriculture Victoria to call for changes to workforce restrictions that were commensurate with changes in community restrictions.

He said they hoped that would have an impact on the risk rating of processing facilities in the regions and consequently removal or reduction of restrictions.

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