THE bidding pace at lamb sales has moved up a notch in the past week as prices hit a summer high.
NSW trade lambs climbed nearly 100c/kg in the past week on the back of an already red-hot market.
Meanwhile, export lambs have hit average prices on par with trade lambs as processors dig deeper into their wallets to secure adequate supplies.
Both trade and exports lambs were averaging 952c/kg early this week, while restocker lambs had climbed to 1036c/kg.
Wagga Regional Livestock director, Isaac Hill, said an insatiable hunger for lamb from the processing sector had been driving the market at Wagga in recent weeks.
"We've had four weeks of rising prices so far, but I'm not prepared to speculate as to where the market will go in the coming weeks," he said.
"That's really a tough one to pick, but what I can say is that we've not really experienced this type of strong demand at a time of year when lambs are generally in bigger numbers.
"The record prices, if we are going to see them are generally in winter when supply is shorter."
He said the market was certainly not at record levels just yet, but there were plenty of price highlights for graziers at last Thursday's Wagga prime sale.
The best of the heavy trade lambs 22kg to 24kg were $23/head dearer to average 923c/kg.
McCarron Cullinane Chudleigh agent Adam Chudleigh, Forbes, said although the market was still strong it seemed to have found its new level at Forbes lamb market on Tuesday.
"The market at Forbes jumped quite a bit last week and I think the prices started to settle a bit this week," he said.
Lambs going into the supermarket trade, 25kg to 26kg (cwt), topped at about $235 to $240 a head, but the good, solid middle runs were about $200 to $220, he said.
"I don't think we will see any records broken just yet," Mr Chudleigh said.
He said by April it might be a different story, but right now there were not the forward contracts available to entice people to pay the extra money.
He said it was interesting to note the restockers were more restrained in the market this week compared to last week.
Currently, Forbes saleyards holds the record for the highest priced lambs sold in Australia at $355 a head set in July last year.
Dubbo agent Mark Garland of P.T. Lord, Dakin and Associates said there were plenty of lighter trade lambs and store lambs being picked up by the restockers as they look to put stock on grass following the rain.
With the limited supplies of lambs available at this time of year in the Central West, he said competition was strong on the lambs that were available at Dubbo on Monday.
"Many people sold their lambs earlier in the season when it was dry and the prices were still good, so there are not as many lambs about at the moment," he said.
Mr Garland said as more grass and pastures come up following the rain, the demand for lambs would increase and there could be further price rises.