news, features, articles and disease information for the sheep industry

All the latest news forSheep | Goats | Llamas | Alpaca


Weekly Australian Sheep Summary

11 December 2014
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - The following report is a collection of market summaries from the previous week across Australia's territories from analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Western Australia

Processors keen to secure supplies

Numbers offered this week increased by close to 3,000 head for a total of 34,750 head, with harvest activities interrupted by cool conditions and showers. Muchea’s throughput remained firm week-on-week, while Katanning’s numbers lifted 20%. Lambs remained largely light weight and store conditioned however there was a reasonable supply of trade weight lambs available. Ewe mutton quality improved, with better conditioned drafts available in greater numbers, but limited longer wool drafts penned. Prices for trade lambs remained strong, with both markets recording prices close to 500¢/kg cwt. Ewe mutton prices remained similar at both sales but buyers had difficulty in securing adequate supplies, with prices rising in later sales. Processor and live export competition on heavy weight wether drafts remained similar and store wether drafts firmed with improved export feeder interest. Direct to works deliveries of lambs are running short, with increased activity on store lambs to feed from processors.

Lambs trend firm to dearer

Trade lamb supply remained close to equal week-on-week. Prices remained strong, with most drafts to processors averaging close to 495¢/kg cwt to be close to firm. Lighter lambs suitable for the processor, air freight markets, feeders and live exporters remained firm, with most sales between $60 and $100/head. Store lambs, both Merino and crossbred, were available in reduced numbers. Better framed crossbred drafts sold between $50 and $90, to be firm to $1/head dearer. Lighter crossbred and most Merino drafts lifted again, making between $35 and $70/head to restockers.

Restockers active on light ewes

Mutton prices to processors remained firm to marginally dearer, with heavier 3 and 4 score ewes making $63 to $87 head, or close to 295¢/kg cwt. Ewes in 2 score condition sold between $50 and $81/head and averaged close to 300¢/kg cwt. Restockers remained active on light weight drafts, with prices firm. Wethers maintained prices, with heavy weight drafts making $80 to $110/head. Lighter conditioned wethers, including store wether lambs, were firm to $2 dearer, as most sales were between $55 and $89/head. Ram lamb and young ram sales remained firm with solid live export activity.


South Australia

All markets offer larger yardings

SA lamb supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, increased 14% week-on-week, to total 24,665 head. All markets reported a lift in numbers, with both Mount Gambier and Naracoorte up 5% to pen 14,065 head and 3,600 head, respectively. The SA Livestock Exchange offered 7,000 lambs, up nearly 50% on the previous sale.

Overall mutton supply increased 55%, to 9,099 head, with consignments at Naracoorte almost doubling to 4,395 head. Mount Gambier was up 54%, to 704 head, while the SA Livestock Exchange yarded 27% more sheep, for 4,000 head in total.

Lightweights well supplied

The increase in numbers at Naracoorte mainly consisted of good conditioned ewes, with extra restocking and processor orders resulting in increased competition. Quality was very mixed at the SA Livestock Exchange; however feeders and restockers from the Mid-North and Yorke Peninsula were keen to secure supplies and consequently prices for the shorn, light weight crossbred lambs lifted. Large numbers of light lambs were also offered at Mount Gambier, with some showing signs of the dry conditions, however, despite this, prices strengthened.

Lamb rates continue to strengthen

Light weight (12-16kg) 3 score lambs returning to the paddock averaged 576¢, while those to processors averaged 563¢, up 66¢/kg cwt week-on-week. The heavier end of the light weights (16-18kg) generally improved in price, with the 3 score crossbreds to slaughter 37¢ higher to return 532¢/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 scores (18-22kg) lifted by as much as 32¢ and generally sold around 518¢ to processors, while the heavy 3 and 4 scores were up to 29¢ higher, with average prices from 514¢ to 523¢/kg cwt.

Medium weight 3 score crossbred ewes to slaughter were 18¢ cheaper this week, on 328¢, while heavy 3 score Merino lines jumped 34¢ to average 293¢/kg cwt.



Mutton supplies rise

Victorian lamb supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, was relatively steady week-on-week, totalling 128,959 head. Supply at Horsham lifted 43%, albeit off a low base, to 3,896 head. While minor falls in yardings were recorded at Ballarat and Bendigo, Hamilton yarded 4% more lambs, to total 69,855 head over the two days.

Total mutton supply was 20% higher week-on-week, at 54,763 head. Throughput at Ballarat and Horsham was firm, while supply lifted at Bendigo and Hamilton yarded 23,485 head, the highest for the year.

Quality varies

Lamb quality overall at Hamilton’s Monday sale was lower due to the lack of weight yarded, however Wednesday’s sale saw an excellent line-up. Buyers showed a preference for shorn young lambs at Bendigo, while there were more heavy lambs yarded at Ballarat.

Competition for mutton was strong at Bendigo, assisted by an additional NSW buyer. There was also some extra competition present at Ballarat, although they did not operate fully. Hamilton’s larger yarding saw quality mixed as producers took the opportunity to offload after selling lambs.

Prices mostly higher

Light weight 2 score young lambs to restockers were 10¢ higher on 491¢, while those 3 score lines to slaughter jumped 7¢ to average 490¢/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 score young lambs to slaughter gained 3¢ to 511¢, while heavy weight 4 score lines eased 9¢ to settle on 516¢/kg cwt.

Medium weight 2 score Merino and first cross ewes lifted 3¢ to 18¢, to average from 255¢ to 347¢/kg cwt. The 3 score Merino ewes were 4¢ dearer on 305¢, while heavy weight 4 score first cross ewes increased 18¢ to average 301¢/kg cwt.


New South Wales 

Lamb numbers increase

Lamb numbers, as reported by the MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, lifted 4% week-on-week, to 86,122 head. Dubbo increased numbers by 25%, to total 16,470 lambs, while Tamworth gained 3%, with 2,860 lambs. Forbes penned similar numbers, at 16,600 head, as CTLX eased by 3% and yarded 17,700 head. Goulburn slipped 10%, to 2,600 lambs, and Wagga penned 6% fewer than last week, with 28,000 head. Inverell continued its fortnightly market and sold 1,892 lambs.

Sheep sales increased 25% week-on-week for an offering of 48,084 head. Dubbo penned 12,000 head and Forbes offered 9,380 sheep. CTLX yarded 5,850 head and Wagga lifted 25% to 16,000 sheep.

Quality overall fair to good

At Dubbo, there was a good selection of trade and heavy weights, along with a fair supply of Merino and light weight crossbred lambs. Quality at Tamworth ranged from plain light weight Merino lambs, through to runs of high quality well-finished crossbreds. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs made up the bulk of the penning at Forbes. CTLX continued to offer good quality trade and heavy weight lambs, with secondary lambs in reduced numbers compared to last week. Quality was mixed at Wagga, with increased supplies of trade weight lambs showing dryness and lacking finish, as well as an increased supply of young shorn supplementary fed lambs in the penning.

Lamb prices trend higher

New season trade weights trended $4/head dearer and prices averaged around 537¢/kg cwt. The heavier weights sold to strong competition, with the best topping at $168/head. The older lambs trended $4 to $5/head dearer, with trade weights averaging from 533¢ to 565c/kg ¢wt. The heavier weights to the exporters topped at $177/head and averaged in the 510¢ to 545¢/kg cwt range.

Sheep improved $3 to $6/head across the major categories. The medium and heavy weight 2 to 4 scores to the processors ranged from $50 to $112 and restockers paid up to $122/head to secure their selections.


TheSheepSite News Desk

Our Sponsors


Seasonal Picks

The Intuitive Farmer: Inspiring Management Success