Supply pressure caused unsteady price patterns last week for both lamb and mutton as the market succumbs to bigger numbers in the south and at northern selling centres.
Numbers at Wagga Wagga, NSW, last week jumped up to more than 37,000 lambs.
Prices were quoted $5-$12 cheaper by Meat & Livestock Australia's National Livestock Reporting Service, which noted bidding was erratic as the auction progressed.
The lambs to come under the most pressure were for extra heavy types weighing 26-30 kilograms carcase weight.
Prices dropped to a low of $200 to recover late in the sale recording a top of $255.
Lambs weighing more than 30kg cwt also bore the brunt of a $9-$10 price correction with some companies not prepared to chase the market.
Prices ranged from $230-$285 to average 730c/kg cwt.
The trade market eased downwards from recent weeks with lambs weighing 22-24kg dipping $5.
The better-shaped and shorter-skinned trade lambs sold from $190-$206 to average 813c/kg cwt.
Feedlots benefited from weaker domestic competition with lambs weighing 21-22kg snapped up at rates $9 cheaper compared to the previous sale to average $180.
Price adjustments across the mutton sale were linked to difficulties in finding slaughtermen.
Most processors are struggling to fill vacancies which is impacting on production.
Lamb prices in opening markets continue to soften in NSW with the industry appearing to be undergoing some form of a price correction.
Rates were rolled back a further $5-$6 at Dubbo, NSW, and Corowa, NSW, with carcase weight prices for trade lambs slipping below 800c/kg at times to average 812c/kg.
Heavy lambs sold $4-$6 cheaper averaging 766c/kg cwt.
At Bendigo buyer competition was described as erratic, with processors selective and bidding strongly only for the lead runs of trade and heavy export lambs.
Trade lamb prices drifted between $154-$200 with smaller lambs making from $110-$147.
In the export market a pen of extra heavy big lambs, estimated to weigh 40kg, topped the sale at $285.
That price was well ahead of the general run at $235-$260
Lambs weighing 26-30kg sold to mixed price trends selling from $199-$237 to average 771c/kg cwt.
At the Ballarat lamb market on Tuesday, prices softened $3-$5.
Trade lambs averaged 791c/kg cwt, while extra heavy lambs topped at $298 averaging 751c/kg cwt.
The sheep sale struggled to find its legs resulting in prices easing $6-$10, with quality and buying interest affecting the market.
Heavy ewes averaged 637c/kg cwt.
- Leann Dax is an NLRS market reporter.