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Australian Weekly Sheep Summary

19 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 

Numbers tighten

Numbers decreased this week by close to 3,000 head, totalling 31,750 head, for the final sales week in WA. Weather conditions have remained relatively mild for this time of year and harvest conditions in southern regions remain restrictive. Muchea numbers lifted, while Katanning’s numbers were back 33%. Quality across the two sales was more mixed and generally plainer.

Lambs remained largely light weight and store conditioned, however there was a reasonable supply of trade weight lambs available. Ewe mutton quality slipped, with more light weight and low conditioned drafts presented. Prices for trade lambs remained strong, as both markets recorded prices close to 500¢/kg cwt, with Muchea higher than Katanning due to more competition. Ewe mutton prices eased at both sales with buyers securing adequate supplies for current programmes until the New Year. Processor and live export competition on heavy weight wether drafts remained similar and store wether drafts were slightly easier due to limited quality.

With a major mutton processor reverting to a single shift operation recently, some pressure on mutton availability has eased, however lamb supply appears tight into the New Year.

Prices remain strong

Trade lamb supply decreased week-on-week and prices remained strong. Trade drafts to processors averaged close to 495¢/kg cwt, to be close to firm. Lighter lambs suitable for the processor, air freight markets, feeders and live exporters eased $3 with most sales between $60 and $90/head. Store lambs, both Merino and crossbred were available in reduced numbers with lighter weights and most Merino drafts between $35 and $70, to be $4/head cheaper.

Mutton prices ease

Mutton prices to processors eased with heavier 3 and 4 score ewes making $62 to $90/head, or close to 280¢/kg cwt. Ewes in 2 score condition sold between $40 and $75/head and averaged close to 280¢/kg cwt. Restockers remained active on light weight drafts with prices easing $4/head, largely due to quality. Wether prices remained firm due to live export activity, with heavy weight drafts making $75 to $115/head. Lighter conditioned wethers including store wether lambs were firm with most sales between $45 and $85/head. Ram lambs and young ram sales remained firm with solid live export activity.

New South Wales 

Lamb numbers decrease

Lamb supply, as reported by MLA’s NLRS, during the last week of markets for 2014 slipped 20% to 68,265 head. Dubbo reduced numbers by 24% to 12,500 lambs, while Tamworth was back 4% to 2,745 head. Forbes defied the lower trends and lifted its numbers by 13%, penning 19,120 lambs, while CTLX slipped by 36%, yarding 11,200 head. Goulburn penned close to equal consignments, at 2,500 head, while Wagga lost 32% and penned 19,000 lambs. Inverell offered a small total of 1,200 head.

Sheep sales decreased 18%, compared to the previous week, for an offering of 39,264 head. Dubbo penned 9,500 head, while Forbes offered 11,050 sheep. CTLX yarded 4,250 head, while Wagga decreased 35% to 10,400 sheep.

Quality overall was mixed

At Dubbo, there was a good selection of heavy weights, with limited consignments of trade weights. Quality at Tamworth was good, with some very good quality trade and heavy weights in the penning. At Forbes, quality was fair and heavy and extra heavy weight lambs made up the bulk in the offering. CTLX offered good runs of trade and heavy weight new season lambs, along with good percentages of light weights. Trade lambs at Wagga were in reasonable supply and good numbers of young shorn supplementary fed lambs were also offered.

Lamb prices trend higher

Dearer trends were evident throughout most lamb categories this week, as the new seasons gained $2 for the trade weights and up to $10/head for the heavy weights. The older lambs trended $3 to $6 dearer and the trade weights sold from $92 to $138/head, or an average of 549¢ to 562¢/kg cwt. The heavier weights to the exporters topped at $188/head and averaged between 528¢ to 576¢/kg cwt.

Sheep sold to varying trends, with the earlier markets selling dearer and the later sales all trending cheaper. The medium and heavy weight 2 to 4 scores to the processors ranged from $46 to $115, with restockers purchasing heavy crossbred ewes at $115/head.


Lamb supply lifts

Victorian lamb supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, gained 20% week-on-week, to total 154,718 head. Throughput at Ballarat was firm on 40,434 head, while supply at Bendigo lifted 33%, to 18,925 head. Yardings at Hamilton and Horsham lifted 26% and 84%, to 88,193 head and 7,166 head, respectively.

Total mutton supply was 29% lower week-on-week, on 38,973 head. Throughout at Ballarat and Bendigo was marginally higher, while yardings eased 68% at Hamilton, to 7,453 head and 44% at Horsham, to 2,765 head.

Stronger demand

With this week’s sales being the last of the year, demand increased across all markets. Well-finished shorn lambs at Bendigo sold to the best demand, while supply of heavy weight lambs was limited. Restockers were active at Hamilton’s Wednesday’s sale, with light lambs making up around 50% of the market.

Several drafts of heavy weight ewes benefited from strong export orders at Bendigo. More crossbred ewes were yarded at Ballarat and Hamilton and quality was very mixed.

Prices rise

Light weight 2 score young lambs to restockers were 31¢ higher on 521¢, while 3 score lines to slaughter gained 60¢ to average 549¢/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 score young lambs to slaughter lifted 48¢ to 554¢, while heavy weight 3 and 4 score young lambs to slaughter increased 19¢ to 41¢, to average from 537¢ to 557¢/kg cwt.

Light weight 2 score Merino ewes were unchanged on 313¢, while medium weight 3 score Merino ewes were 13¢ higher on 318¢/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score Merino ewes were 5¢ dearer on 317¢, while heavy weight 3 and 4 score first cross ewes eased around 5¢ to range in price from 244¢ to 337¢/kg cwt.

South Australia

Supplies decrease

SA lamb supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, eased 11% week-on-week to 21,975 head. Supply at the SA Livestock Exchange was firm on 7,000 head, while yardings at Naracoorte lifted 25% to 4,513 head. Offsetting this was a 26% decrease in supplies at Mount Gambier, with 10,462 head yarded.

SA sheep supply eased only 2% week-on-week, to total 8,944 head. Yardings at Mount Gambier and the SA Livestock Exchange decreased, while throughput at Naracoorte was 9% higher on 4,790 head.

Restocker buyers prominent

There were a large number of restocker buyers present at Naracoorte and Mount Gambier this week. Competition was generally weaker at the SA Livestock Exchange, although agents were active on light weight crossbreds.

Processor competition on mutton eased at the SA Livestock Exchange and there was little interest from restockers. There were a large number of rams offered at Naracoorte and Mount Gambier.

Most prices improve

Light weight 3 score young lambs to slaughter were 49¢ higher on 612¢, while light trade weight 3 score young lambs to slaughter gained 5¢, to average 526¢/kg cwt. Heavier trade weight 3 score young lambs eased 4¢ to 511¢, while heavy weight 3 score young lambs to slaughter decreased 10¢, to settle on 504¢/kg cwt.

Light weight 2 score ewes to slaughter gained 13¢ to 318¢, while medium weight 2 and 3 score ewes to slaughter improved 3¢ to 7¢, to range in price from 205¢ to 382¢/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes to slaughter increased 8¢, to average 337¢/kg cwt.

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