There were mixed signals from the lamb market in early trading this week, with supermarkets and key export companies not as active at saleyards.
Prices begun the week just holding on for the best slaughter lambs in short skins, while most of the plainer-bred and conditioned types showed a significant easing in trends.
These trends followed similar patterns at the Wagga Wagga, NSW, lamb market last Thursday.
At this stage there has been a moderate correction evident in the national indicators, with trade lambs listed at 805 cents a kilogram, to be 18c/kg easier than late last week.
Heavy lambs, 22kg plus, closed at 797c/kg to be down 2c/kg carcase weight.
Within those figures are price variations based on location, with northern markets outpacing southern regions this February/March.
The latest data is also showing a shift to heavier carcase weights in lambs.
When prices are broken down by area, NSW is easily the dearest state, according to figures collated by the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS).
Heavy lambs are currently listed at 803c/kg cwt in NSW compared with 783c/kg in Victoria, while in South Australia they are tracking at just under 753c/kg cwt.
Comments suggest there are fewer quality trade lambs coming out of NSW at present.
Trade lambs in NSW are at 813c/kg, against 798c/kg cwt in Victoria.
What also shows up in the data is a significant shift to heavier kill weights, with agents reporting producers are taking lambs to notably bigger weights to help create a bigger return margin from high-priced store lambs purchased.
The good season and early autumn break are also helping aid weight gain.
Price results at Bendigo showed a downward trend and came under pressure from fewer processors and plainer quality.
The NLRS said the tone of the market was flat, and both export and domestic processors were selective.
Trade lambs dipped $13 a head, with the 22-24kg weight range selling from a varied price margin of $164-$185 to average out at 756c/kg cwt.
Store buyers helped keep a floor in trade rates and stepped in buying the plainer types on offer to average $173.
Heavy lambs were quoted $5 cheaper, averaging 726c/kg cwt.
Showing the unstable pattern in prices further south was Ballarat.
The market lacked the buyer competition of the past week, across trade and heavy classes.
The best of the super big, heavy lambs recorded a top price of $290 to be $10 cheaper.
Trade lambs sold $5-$7 weaker, averaging 755c/kg cwt.
Mutton was unchanged to slightly cheaper averaging 566-596c/kg cwt.
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