Lamb and sheep prices are strengthening as the market undergoes a battle between supply and demand.
Rain continued to push mutton prices higher as the wet weather continued to disrupt the normal spring flush of stock.
Fewer sheep were available late last week to all major selling centres across eastern Victoria, mostly due to the high rainfall.
A forecast warning of heavy rain and flooding up north impacted markets late last week with buyers scrambling for supplies.
Ewe mutton continued to climb higher on the back of heated demand from several export processors at Wagga Wagga, NSW.
A key northern processor spent big on the prediction of a flooding rain from Forbes, NSW, to Tamworth, NSW.
Big, crossbred ewes jumped $25 a head and sold from $170 to $242 to average 601 cents a kilogram carcase weight.
Bidding intensified for Merino wethers with southern processors stepping up for a market share.
Rates ranged from $170 to $225 to average 659c/kg.
Lamb prices continued to push higher in opening markets on Monday, with supply a key driver as the industry heads closer to summer.
There were just on 18,000 lambs yarded at Bendigo this week with Corowa in southern NSW also yarding a smaller offering of 11,000.
Further north numbers lifted at Dubbo, NSW, after successive weeks of wet conditions hampered the mustering of stock.
Heavy export lambs sold to a top of $302 at Bendigo this week, the highest dollar a head price at the centre for quite some time.
At Wagga Wagga there was a run of new season lambs which sold from $295 to $315.
However, sales above $300 only accounted for a small percentage of the lambs sold.
Most of the good trade and heavy lambs from 24kg to 30kg carcase weight are making between $200 to $290 consistently, tracking above 850c/kg to average 867c/kg at the saleyards in the past week.
On Monday, the national price indicator for heavy lambs 22kg plus was at 861c/kg cwt, a lift of 25c/kg in the past week and a massive improvement of 104c/kg on the rates of the same time last year.
The higher prices have started to draw out sucker lambs which require more finish.
These young lambs have been quickly snapped up by restockers.
Prices have mostly remained unchanged or slightly dearer.
Lambs with some frame and weight made from $158 to $181.
Ballarat's lamb market dipped by more than 6300 to 23,903 lambs and 9,267 sheep.
Heavy suckers topped at $304 to average 965c/kg cwt.
Trade lambs 22kg to 24 kg made from $210-$240.
Meanwhile, mutton at Ballarat jumped $22 to average 601c/kg cwt.
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