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Harvest Peak Sees Ewe Numbers Up, Lambs Down

30 October 2014

AUSTRALIA - Lamb numbers this week dropped 10 per cent to 9,000 head with numbers being mostly made of light lambs, reports Meat and Livestock Australia.

Harvest spurred increased supplies of ewes, which lifted 6,000 head to 30,000 head.

Very few prime lambs were penned and no lambs in excess of 24kg cwt were available, according to MLA market analysts.

Ewe mutton supplies were much larger and weight and wool length continued to decline.

Prices for trade lambs moved lower, however light and store categories lifted due to continuing feeder and restocker competition. Ewe mutton prices eased overall, with prices close to $3/head cheaper.

Processor and restocker competition on heavy weight wether drafts eased, along with store wether drafts. Direct-to-works deliveries of both lambs and ewes remain strong and affected competition, as did limited live export activity.

Lamb Prices Lift

Store lambs, both Merino and crossbred, were available in similar numbers. Better framed drafts sold between $65 and $85, to be firm to $4 dearer, with shorn new season lambs lifting close to $6/head. Lighter crossbred and Merino drafts lifted $3 and made between $40 and $65/head to restockers.

Trade weight new season lamb sales eased at both markets, with prices from $75 to $100/head to average close to 435¢/kg cwt. Lighter lambs suitable for the air freight markets and feeders lifted $3 with most sales between $70 and $90/head.

Old lambs remained limited in number and generally plain with prices continuing to slip.

Mutton Prices Lower

Mutton prices eased at both markets. Heavier 3 and 4 score ewes made $55 to $83/head or close to 245¢/kg cwt. Ewes in 2 score condition sold between $40 and $68/head and averaged close to 250¢/kg cwt.

Restockers were more active with Merino ewe hoggets firm and sound mature drafts improving another $4/head.

Wether prices eased without live export competition. Heavy drafts made $60 to $85, back $4, with lighter conditioned wethers including store wether lambs also easier and most sales between $45 and $70/head. Ram sales remained equal with limited export quality drafts available.

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