Breather in wild ride for lamb prices

Tasmanian Country - - THE STOCK REPORT -

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.

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