Lamb prices continue to be a mixed bag as summer pushes out higher numbers of plainer-trade types, while labour availability remains an issue at all abattoirs.
There were some varied prices given at saleyards for heavy trade lambs weighing 22-24 kilograms carcase weight in the past week.
Bigger offerings of more than 20,000 at some selling centres contributed to dragging rates back.
Adding to the mixed outcomes was some unexpected price spikes for grain-assisted lambs weighing more than 30kg cwt, with heavy lambs 30kg cwt selling up to $290 a head.
The eastern states heavy lamb indicator dipped 10 cents a kilogram to sit at 837c/kg, while trade lambs tracked 12c/kg lower to 837c/kg cwt.
The one gauge which has held its nerve is the restocking indicator which sits at 925c/kg cwt.
After good summer rainfall, restockers have capitalised on available feed and have increased stocking rates, particularly those opportunistic feedlot farmers who can now background lambs on lucerne stands before moving them into a feedlot situation.
The lamb market is yet to settle from the drop off in processor demand at selling centres.
Prices continued to be varied, with data collected by Meat & Livestock Australia's National Livestock Reporting Service showing price increases in NSW, while Victorian rates eased across all weight categories.
Farmers have reacted to the cheaper trends by reducing numbers in the auction system, with supplies dropping by almost a third at Bendigo and Corowa, NSW, on Monday.
However, it has not been enough to stabilise the markets with prices still erratic and generally weaker where numbers are higher.
At Bendigo on Monday, another small offering of 8000 lambs and 2900 sheep were sold as producers implemented a cautious approach on the COVID-slanted markets of the past few weeks.
Competition for heavy lambs was weak with buyers not fussed unless prices fell under 800c/kg cwt.
Lambs 26-30kg dipped $15 to average 810c/kg.
Super big lambs over 30kg cwt averaged 777c/kg.
Price fluctuations were common over the general run of trade lambs depending on buyer activity.
Prices dipped up to $16, with the better-finished lambs averaging 827c/kg cwt.
Mutton lacked buyer competition causing prices to fall $13-$43, with crossbred ewes taking the biggest knock.
Heavy ewes more than 30kg cwt sold from $143-$179 to average 466c/kg cwt.
Meanwhile, the Ballarat lamb market on Tuesday hit a slight headwind.
Trade lambs were up to $9 cheaper to average 830c/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs were in short supply selling at $215-$270, to average 860c/kg cwt.
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