The lamb market is clinging on close to the 910 cents a kilogram carcase weight mark this week, despite rising numbers as pasture matures and grass seeds start to appear in the north and southern areas.
Prices at Bendigo and Corowa, NSW, on Monday showed some downward trends, but it was fairly mild compared with some price corrections that can hit the market mid-spring when numbers build.
Just over 24,000 lambs sold at Bendigo, a significant increase of about 13,000 on a week ago.
About 22,000 were new-season sucker lambs.
Meat & Livestock Australia's National Livestock Reporting Service quoted prices for better-shaped trade and export lambs as $5-$10 a head cheaper in a fluctuating market where buyers bid to quality.
The top price recorded was $320 which was made for a pen of extra-heavy export sucker lambs estimated to weigh over 30kg cwt with a $12 skin.
On a carcase weight basis, most heavy lambs were estimated to range from $256-$302.
The best domestic trade weight lambs in the 21-24kg weight range sold between $198-$236, to average 911c/kg cwt.
Ballarat restockers contributed to keeping a floor in trade prices, paying from $220-$234.
Genuine light store lambs weighing 16-18kg, returning to the paddock, made from $153-$168.
The mutton market stumbled badly, with heavy mutton slipping $30-$60.
Heavy ewe mutton made from $140-$210 to average 513c/kg cwt.
At Corowa on Monday, lamb numbers were similar at 10,300.
Prices also weakened by $13-$21, with some buyers missing out on the action.
Trade lambs made money up to $21 cheaper, making from $179-$231 to average 911c/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs were few and far between, selling from $208-$278 and averaging 930-943c/kg cwt.
Sheep were off the boil and not all companies fired a shot.
Rates retreated $10-$30 to average 500-577c/kg cwt.
Trade sheep dipped $16, selling at $128-$145 to average 598c/kg cwt.
The trend was similar further north at Dubbo, NSW, where big lambs over 30kg sold to $303, but again was easier on a carcase price.
The main runs of medium 21-22kg trade weight lambs eased $7 to average 913c/kg.
Heavier trade took a hit, averaging $20 cheaper with a carcase weight value of 894c/kg.
At Ballarat on Tuesday numbers doubled to 15,490 lambs and 9218 sheep.
The market was generally softer and quoted $6-$15 cheaper.
Trade lambs averaged 927c/kg while extra heavy lambs recorded an average price of 967c/kg cwt.
Mutton fell out of bed, selling $10-$30 cheaper and averaging 572c/kg cwt.
- Leann Dax is an NLRS reporter