Modest lift in lamb numbers as selling resumed after the Labour Day public holiday. The hot autumn weather is also influencing supply, particularly in the sheep run where numbers increased over 8,000 head as another wave of ewes are culled. Processor competition remained soft, with two major buyers absent and others only operating at a limited capacity. Bidding was weakest
on heavy export lambs over 28kg cwt, with some pens recording further decreases of $15/head on a fortnight ago. The general run of trade weight lambs were $2 to $5/head easier, although there was some dearer results for the neatest domestic pens amid limited supplies. Light weight lambs were firm to dearer thanks to solid demand from processors for MK stock plus feedlot orders. The overall trend of the market favouring trade and lighter weight lambs over heavy stock showed up in the dollar per head averages that were unusually tight. For example, the main run of crossbred lambs weighing 26-30k cwt averaged $172, compared to $165 for the 24-26kg pens, representing a difference of just $7/head.
One pen of extra heavy export lambs topped at $184, with most sales of heavy lambs in the 26-30kg cwt category making from $164 to $178/head. The heaviest lambs were estimated to make from 540c to 570c/kg cwt. Most trade weight lambs sold from $152 to $165/head, varying from 600c to 660c/kg cwt depending on breed quality and finish. The better presented light weight crossbred lambs sold from $96 to $126/head to track over 700c/kg cwt at times. Store buyer interest was limited, and very small and secondary lambs were discounted. The pick of the trade weight Merino lambs in the yarding sold from $137 to $156/head for estimates of 550c to 560c/kg cwt.
The sheep yarding included some quality crossbred and Merino ewes still in forward condition. Mutton prices improved by $5 to $10/head, with the strongest processor demand shown for sheep still displaying reasonable fat cover. Heavy crossbred ewes received from $110 to $141, and heavy Merino ewes sold from $108 to $140/head. Light sheep not emaciated by drought primarily made from $60 to $80/head. A good run of Merino mutton was estimated to cost processors from 380c to 430c/kg cwt.