The mutton market has recorded a swift response to a drop in supply.
Late last week the market rallied $10-$20 a head for trade and heavy sheep.
The prediction of rain last week across much of NSW had an immediate effect on rates at Wagga Wagga, NSW, on Thursday, in a smaller larger yarding of 24,000 lambs and 6000 sheep.
Fletchers International and Goulburn Meats went head to head across heavy mutton categories, keeping prices buoyant.
Heavy Merino ewes sold to a top price of $239, while the crossbred girls sold at $170-$230 to average 530-595 cents a kilogram carcase weight.
It suggests as further evidence of a likely shortage in the weeks to come, especially now that mutton yarding figures are at some markets showing a decline.
The National Livestock Reporting Service indicated most lamb prices tracked at higher levels, with well-finished heavy lambs and store types under 18kg cwt showing the greater price increases.
There were several highlights in the sale.
The most noteworthy was Merino lambs which jumped $23 and reached a high of $206.
Heavy lambs improved $5 and competition gained momentum as the sale progressed.
The upswing in rates meant big super-sized heavy lambs constantly sold from $235-$285 to average 729c/kg cwt.
There was little evidence that domestic processors were prepared to push the market higher, despite diminishing supplies of quality trade lambs.
Shorn trade lambs received premium rates and consistently made from $190-$205.
Store lambs back to the paddock were keenly sought by locals and South Australian restockers who lifted rates $11, making from $130-$175.
There were some price spikes for lambs in opening markets at Dubbo, NSW, Corowa, NSW, and Bendigo on Monday and overall the lamb markets continue to track at higher price levels.
Lamb numbers were considerably reduced at Bendigo due to recent rain and an erratic market the week prior.
Agents said the reduction in supply was mostly across the lighter weight categories as plainer stock were held back with producers confident of finishing lambs.
There were some excellent heavy drafts of grainfed lambs throughout the offering.
Extra heavy lambs sold to a high of $256, however, most sales ranged from $240-$250 to average 770c/kg cwt.
Competition ramped up for trade lambs with gains of $11 to average 785-815c/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs sold to $279 at Ballarat on Tuesday, while the bulk averaged 725-770c/kg cwt.
Bidding intensified for trade lambs lifting rates $10-$20 to average 800-830c/kg cwt.
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