December 10, 2012
Falling price trends through most of November for young lambs suddenly took a noticeable reverse across much of Australia over recent weeks, especially for lambs with weight. Extra processors were active and, with rain in a few key areas plus the annual flush of fresh, sappy young lambs at Western District selling centres, quality and price trends lifted. Now what gives? Before, prices virtually staying down or fairly stable; now suddenly they’re better – this time nothing to do with supply. For weeks it has been reported processors are nearly booked out right up until Christmas closures: can it be that the extra processor competition in the marketplace suggests otherwise? Common sense must tell you if there are plenty of forward consignments available, why push saleyard prices up? Increased supplies of young lambs last week and this week are in line with trends over recent years, where a November low was followed by a lift in prices in the lead-up to Christmas. The price rise was certainly welcomed by producers but there is still no certainty or confidence they will be sustained. However, one major SA exporter’s forward contract (which was filled quickly) of 360c/kg cwt sounded reasonably promising. Looking at the markets and in particular Friday’s Shepparton lamb supply was indeed low as not even 2000 head could be mustered by agents. Although many may consider price trends to blame, very hot weather, particularly the day before, might have been the major reason. In a mixed quality offering, demand averaged fairly close to equal. Heavy young lambs sold for $85-$92 a head, the heaviest only about 25kg, with trade lambs mainly $65-$86, ranging from 290-320c/kg cwt across both. Just short of 1000 head of sheep saw prices rapidly improve by $5-$8/head, with processor averages from 130-180c/kg cwt. On to Bendigo’s Monday sale, where smaller lamb numbers were the order of the day. Nearly 14,500 head included more good to very good heavier shorn young lambs, 3 and 4 scores, at $74-$95/head, av equal to $5/head dearer. Over all weights and grades of the woolly or unshorn young lambs, prices av $2-$5/head higher with some lightweights bought to turn out showing up to $8/head dearer. The heavy 4 scores were mostly $82-$100 and best quality trade making $70-$91.20, with processor averages across the two weight grades from 290-350c/kg cwt, including the shorn young lambs. The following sheep sale produced another good-sized penning of nearly 7600 head. Demand remained strong from processors in a good to very good mutton selection, which also included a few more drafts of wethers. Tuesday’s Ballarat market had about 38,000 head of lambs with quality described as good to very good. The bulk were unshorn young lambs, many drafts still off their mothers from the later seasonal areas. Prices were quoted from $2-$8 dearer in line with similar recent sales. Heavy and extra-heavy 4 scores sold from $84-$115 and trade from $66-$85, or 310-360c/kg cwt.