There was a modest increase in lamb supply to 11,516 head, while sheep numbers remained low at less than 3,300. Bidding intensified across all categories of stock, despite some processors not operating fully, as prices continue to rise. Extra heavy export lambs sold to $297 to be just $3 shy of last winter’s peak, while supplementary fed Merino lambs reached $260/head, believed to be a new record for the breed at Bendigo. In the mutton sale, big crossbred ewes sold to $259 and wethers reached $250/head to also be dollar per head records at Bendigo.
Most of the yarding recorded price gains of anything from $5 to $20/head. Strong demand was shown for lambs with weight and fat cover, exporters paid to $297 for a pen estimated close to 40kg cwt, while key domestic buyers also stepped up towards 27kg cwt, paying to $235/head. Overall, any quality crossbred lambs over 24kg cwt tracked above $200/head. Heavy lambs in the 26-30kg cwt category averaged close to $248 and pens weighing 24-26kg cwt averaged close to $220/head.
On a carcase basis, the good trade and export lambs were returning averages from 820c to 850c/kg cwt. Merino lambs were well supplied and the pen at a record $260/head had been curfewed and weighed on-farm at an average of 72kg live weight, according to sale agents. The main run of trade weight Merino lambs, 20-22kg, sold from $160 to $180/head at an estimated 750c/kg cwt. Light weight lambs continue to be in limited supply and quality was again very mixed.
A small number of export companies were keen for heavy mutton to create a much dearer market. The heaviest crossbred ewes made from $200 to $259/head. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $250/head in a limited run. Quality processor sheep were estimated to cost from 580c to over 600c/kg cwt. Prices for very plain and light sheep also showed considerable improvement.