Breather in wild ride for lamb prices
AFTER a couple of weeks of turbulence in interstate lamb saleyards, where we saw prices climb $30 to 40 a head only to then drop by the same amount or more in the following 10 days, prices have tended to stabilise this week.
Numbers were lower in NSW while quality slipped at Bendigo as northern Victorian markets see the effect of the dry season. Late last week and early this week lamb prices improved by $2 to $5 per head but by the time buyers got to Hamilton in Victoria on Wednesday the market started to ease.
It happens every year and this week we saw lamb numbers at Hamilton increase by 22,000 to reach 33,945 head and as of next week there will be lamb sales on Monday and Wednesday and a mutton sale on Thursday. This trend will go through to about Christmas.
Heavy lambs made $175 to $195 each while extra heavy pens made $184 to top at $240 to average around 700c/kg carcass weight. Heavy trade made $160 to $191 and trade $134 to $170 with averages around 690c/kg.
Reports indicated subdued restocker interest with lighter pens making $48 to $69 while most made $65 to $133 head.
Most lamb prices earlier in the week sat between 680c/kg and 710c/kg. It is interesting that when the forward contracts of 780c/kg to 800c/kg came out a few weeks ago many said it wasn’t enough but are rethinking their strategy.
Although I think most in the industry are expecting there will be increases in lamb prices once the big numbers of southern lambs are finished, it should be noted that there have been many big lamb sales at yards like Wagga in NSW where over half have either gone back to the paddock or gone to a feedlot. Many have been very small and will not come back to the market until at least late summer and more likely into the autumn.
Interesting to note that the eastern states lamb-slaughter numbers for the week ending November 9 fell 4 per cent on the previous week to 340,000 head – 12 per cent lower than the same week last year. That is a big drop.
Mutton prices have also steadied over the past 10 days and at Horsham in Victoria on Wednesday heavy crossbred ewes made $95 to $130 to average 360c/kg while medium Merino ewes made $79 to $110 or 350c/kg to 480c/kg to average of 435c/kg carcass weight.
Locally, we are still a couple of weeks away from any big numbers of new lambs. No doubt our prices will mirror those in other eastern states.