The lamb market is showing the first signs in months of some sort of market correction with some saleyards reporting drops of around $20/head at sheep sales this week.
As of Monday the national trade lamb indicator was sitting at 906c/kg, down 25c on last week but up 115c/kg on last year. The national heavy lamb indicator was back 46c/kg to 946c/kg but still 103c/kg higher than the same time in 2018.
11,000 lambs and 5000 mutton were yarded at Ballarat on Tuesday and local agent Xavier Bourke, TB White & Sons, said the market was "definitely cheaper".
"The only real exception were some real neat, short skinned trade lambs that were about $7/head cheaper but most other categories were down about $20/head," he said.
Light weight Merino lambs sold from $128 to $138 at Ballarat with the heavier drafts sold from $169 to $180/head. Restockers and feeders paid from $125 to $167 for lambs and from $45 to $82/head for the lighter lots.
Mr Bourke said quality was back on previous weeks.
"I think it just got extremely dear and the abattoirs are cutting back on numbers and they don't need to fill as many orders," he said.
It was a similar story at Dubbo on Monday where 21,000 lambs and 12,000 sheep were yarded.
Graham Anderson, Peter Milling and Company, said prices there were were also down $20/head or more on previous weeks.
Mr Anderson said the market was coming off record highs when lambs were consistently topping at $10/kg.
"I think we are seeing a bit of a market correction but we're trading on record highs," he said.
"It was a mixed quality yarding this week. This season here is very ordinary. "All the prime stock have been grain fed - there's nothing to fatten them."
Mr Anderson said the best quality lambs were selling to NSW and Victorian restockers while processors were trying to pick up plainer lambs and mutton.
Meat & Livestock Australia senior market analyst Adam Cheetham said while lamb prices had cooled this week, he believed it was more of a "holding pattern" than a price correction.
"We have seen yardings come off a bit and last year slaughter bottomed out in August but after having a look at the slaughter figures for this week it looks like we might track sideways for a few weeks," he said.
"The market will really depend on when the new season lambs start coming through.
"There are some really interesting dynamics at play and depending on what numbers we see from September onwards, the indications are that prices will remain at historically high levels."
MLA reported that at Dubbo on Monday, light weight lambs to the processors were $15 cheaper with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $105 to $142/head.
Trade lambs were up to $28 cheaper with the 18-24kg lambs selling from $150 to $222/head to average from 820c to 875c/kg cwt. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $159 to $217/head.
Heavy weight lambs were from $20 to $40/head cheaper with quality a major factor. The over 24kg 4 score lambs sold from $220 to $290/head.
Merino lambs were up to $30 cheaper with the trade weights selling from $145 to $190, while heavy weight Merinos sold to $275/head.
Restocker lambs were $10 cheaper with the better types selling from $118 to $133 while young new season lambs to the restockers sold from $55 to $145/head. Hoggets sold to $220/head.