Erratic prices at Ballarat and Bendigo lamb sales

Annabelle Cleeland
By Annabelle Cleeland
May 11 2022 - 8:00pm
ATTENDEES: Ken Adams and Kylie Murcutt, Verdun, SA, at the recent Mount Pleasant, SA, sheep and lamb market.

Forward contracts have surpassed saleyard prices for trade and heavy lambs by up to $30 a head, as the final run of Victoria's spring-drop lambs triggers erratic buying behaviour.

Of the nearly 42,000 head yarding at Ballarat's Central Victoria Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, 32,100 were lambs which sold to a top of $298 for heavy export lambs, while store lambs hit $180.

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Nutrien Ag Solutions livestock development manager Ron Rutledge said Tuesday's market averaged 750-790 cents a kilogram carcase weight, or $179.

"Ballarat is still yarding the lambs from southern Australia - as the yardstick of the lamb market - whereas the northern sector have new lambs on the ground so they're starting the cycle again in the Riverina and Mallee," Mr Rutledge said.

"These heavy lambs out of western Victoria will come to an abrupt end soon.

"This week you could buy lambs from $60-$160 so from a retail trading space there was some good opportunities."

In the breakdown, store lambs sold from $66-$160, reported to be up to $5 dearer week-on-week, while lambs under 18kg cwt sold from $97-$151 - also up on average $5, according to the National Livestock Reporting Service.

Trade lambs 18-22kg fetched $150-$185, 22-24kg sold from $175-$200, 24-26kg sold from $190-$208, with an average of 750-790c/kg cwt.

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Export lambs 26-30kg made from $199-$234 to average 760-770c/kg, and over 30kg sold from $238-$298, with an average range of 715c/kg cwt.

"These are the best forward contract prices in a decade and allowed producers to hedge their bets," Mr Rutledge said.

"Producers who took forward contracts at Christmas are now rewarded with $25-$30 up on saleyard prices.

"These current yardings are indicative of the volumes coming out of the western district at the moment following a great spring and late autumn."

He said store buyers were active, reflecting the niche marketing strategies in the lamb job.

"We are seeing an evolution in the lamb industry where a breeder, backgrounder, feedlot and processor are all working within the same market, which is more reflective in the cattle industry," he said.

"Instead of people buying light lamb and holding on while they are fattened, it is a very focused market that operates on a specific weight range because of the margins in trading."

There was 22,400 head yarded at Bendigo on Tuesday, including about 15,000 lambs which where majority trade weight lambs, that sold from $142-$210, while heavy lambs made from $180-$220 and extra heavy lambs made to $260.

Active restockers paid from $40-$131, while hoggets topped at $170 and mutton was up $10 and topped at $236.

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Annabelle Cleeland

Annabelle Cleeland

National Sheep & Wool Writer

Annabelle Cleeland is Fairfax Media’s national sheep and wool writer. Annabelle joined the Fairfax team in 2012 to nurture her love of Australian agriculture. She began as the Victorian western district reporter at Stock & Land before taking on a senior position as a journalist reporting on all industries statewide. Annabelle’s appetite to report on issues which affect the sheep and wool industry has seen her travel to many parts of Australia and abroad. She is excited to spin industry yarns during a period of substantial demand for the sheepmeat and wool industries. Annabelle enjoys horse riding and climbing mountains, and is a lazy supporter of the Geelong Football Club.

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