Lamb prices in the north were boosted by the prediction of rain, with buyer competition intensifying against a shortage of numbers at southern selling centres.
Lamb prices lifted last week by $3-$7 a head, surprisingly the old lambs were the big price improvers.
The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator finished at 809 cents a kilogram carcase weight, up 2c/kg on the previous week.
The Wagga Wagga, NSW, market reacted to the possibility of rain despite the larger yarding of 39,000 lambs and 14,800 sheep.
New season trade lambs prices increased $3, while old trade lambs experienced price surges of up to $20, recording a top price of $216.
Some strong sales for heavy old lambs were recorded for stock weighing above 30kg cwt.
Grain finished pens sold from $260-$292, averaging 825c/kg cwt.
Feedlots were actively supported by Ballarat agents and local inquiry.
Well-bred pens sold from $144-$188, to average about $162.
While the lamb market edged forward, there was strong sentiment on the day for mutton, which gained $10 in a week.
Processors paid $156-$210 for better quality heavy ewe mutton, with the best skins fetching $20-$25.
Trade sheep were of excellent quality with leaner types hard to find, selling from $135-$155.
On Monday, markets in Victoria and NSW showed slightly stronger prices for lambs, while mutton values softened on the back of greater numbers.
A combination of similar numbers and improved quality at Bendigo lifted rates $8-$10 for heavy trade 22-24kg, to average 850c/kg cwt.
Lighter weight trade lambs only had to stray out of a tight box to be discounted by $11, to average 769c/kg cwt.
This was especially noticeable for the 20-22kg category.
Heavy young lambs were in short supply, which contributed to buyers pushing rates $3-$10 higher.
The same trend was evident in the old lambs, with shorter skinned lambs paid premium prices, averaging 844c/kg cwt.
A Ballarat order joined the restocking ranks, according to the National Livestock Reporting Service.
The larger number of restocking lambs made from $125-$152.
Meanwhile, the quality of the mutton offering was outstanding, showing plenty of weight and fat cover.
The highlight was a line of 500 wethers, which were estimated to weigh 40kg cwt and sold for $200.
Price results for mutton were firm to slightly easier, to average 500-563c/kg cwt.
At Ballarat, it was a small offering of 4394 lambs and 5422 sheep.
Despite the mixed yarding of old lambs, prices jumped $7-$11.
Trade lambs averaged 786c/kg, while the heavy lamb rates were boosted by limited numbers to average 812c/kg cwt.
The story Competition intensifies on back of number shortage first appeared on Stock & Land.