LIKE all agents this year, we have seen the highs and lows in the saleyards, over-the-hooks and online auctions.
Record prices for crossbred lambs, sucker lambs and mutton to slaughter are among the high points of the year, but the one sale that amazed me was two weeks ago in the Griffith saleyards.
Two pens of fresh sappy Merino wether sucker lambs, from a property near Gunbar, sold for $145 a head and the seconds for $125, both lots going to slaughter.
That same week, a consignment of new season wether lambs from Hay were sold at Bendigo realising from $110 to $130 a head.
Last week, I drove up the driveway of a Gunbar property I worked on when I was younger. I remember when the agent at that time, now a colleague of mine, had an order to buy Merino lambs that year and the prices varied from $18 to $25, but some made up to $30, but they were real good lambs. That was about 22 years ago.
Isn't it amazing how much the prices for the humble Merino has changed.
But, so has our attitude in breeding the most productive animal for our enterprises. For example, lambing percentages for Merinos joined to Merino are now up to 150 per cent plus, we have six to eight month shearings and lambs selling in the yards at Dubbo this year made $307.20 averaging 71kg (liveweight).
Next month the spring sales will kick into gear and some of the best Riverina-bred maiden and older ewes will be up for sale.
But, as we have seen on Auctionsplus sales for these ewes, the prices have varied but some very handy prices have been achieved.
How many young ewe replacements are actually out there, especially here in the Western Riverina? With the prospect of rain diminishing, more of our producers are looking to off load earlier and the number of scanned empty ewes sold earlier and the four- to six-year-old Merino ewes in prime condition have achieved good money in the prime pens.
Wether lambs in past years have also been keenly sourced at these spring sales, but most graziers are value adding to their enterprise by carrying their lambs longer and taking them out to proper trade or export weights.
However, what happens in the next few weeks will dictate this, just add water!
A lot of sucker lambs are coming into the saleyards off the crops in magnificent condition.
As I'm sitting here writing this, I'm thinking about this week and who I've seen and who I've talked to, but two conversations standout with two very close friends and long-term clients of mine.
One said "what a year $300 for old lambs and $200 for suckers" and to be able to drive up that same driveway all those years later and say to the other one ''these Merino suckers are every bit as good and better as the ones sold in Griffith last week, it's a credit to you and the job you've done on the lambs''.
I've got to say that's why I love getting up each morning and going to work, its either feast or famine here.
- Grant Elwin is a livestock agent for Rawlinson and Brown and a member of Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association.