The lamb market is showing mixed trends and is struggling to hold its form heading into winter.
Late last week at Wagga Wagga, NSW, the trade lamb market took a cautious step forward to chase the limited supplies of properly-finished trade stock at 21-24 kilograms carcase weight.
A major domestic buyer dominated the better-finished stock, pushing the better-presented types $5 a head higher, while plainer lambs lacking carcase finish were overlooked by most buyers and found homes with feedlots and restockers.
The stand-out performer was light lambs returning to the paddock with some sales $10 dearer.
Strong northern and local competition helped support the lighter types.
Well-bred secondary lambs with frame sold from $140-$178.
The heavy lamb market treaded a fine line between supply and demand with increased numbers of big supersized lambs.
Export processors took the foot off the accelerator and bidding became erratic, with the market opening softer, before improving, then dropping back to finish $7-$10 cheaper.
A single pen estimated to weigh 38kg cwt recorded a top price of $305, while other sales averaged between 720-760 cents a kilogram carcase weight.
Some rainfall last week had little impact on lamb markets as bigger numbers continue to be pushed out, particularly from NSW.
In opening markets on Monday prices rose in Victoria while in NSW rates moved in a cheaper direction.
At Dubbo, NSW, lambs were presented in dry condition as the less than ideal wet weather continues.
There were plenty of heavy lambs offered however trade lambs remained in short supply.
Despite a shortage of trade lambs, prices were reported $16-$22 cheaper compared to the previous market.
Trade lamb carcase weights averaged between 715-755c/kg.
Heavy lambs up to 30kg were affected by limited buying competition, dipping $13, selling from $170-$233.
Lambs over 30kg cwt found support selling from $240-$270.
The mutton sale held its head high with all grades $7-$10 dearer.
Heavy mutton recorded a top of $254 to average 635c/kg.
Trade sheep sold from $110-$172.
At Ballarat on Tuesday the market struggled to gain price traction despite a decrease in numbers.
Agents mustered 34,100 lamb and 6535 sheep, with the quality ranging from one spectrum to the other.
The level of demand at the sale is at the heart of the issue with buyer competition losing its intensity.
Light and medium trade lambs slipped $5-$10, while heavy trade 22-24kg eased $3 making from $170-$200.
Big heavy lambs were unchanged recording a top price of $308.
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