OVER-the-hooks lamb rates have plunged nearly 100c/kg in the past fortnight on the back of significantly larger yardings at NSW saleyards, but there may be a glimmer that prices for lambs sold via saleyards may be on the way up again.
Trade lambs sold direct to processors slumped to an average of 743 cents a kilogram (carcase weight) in the past week. The falls for heavier lambs were not as dramatic, but did slip about 40c/kg to average 780c/kg.
However, prices for lambs in the saleyards, which traditionally help set the trend for OTH rates, seemed to indicate the start of a steadier market.
While the finished lambs destined for the processors were still a little cheaper at Yass prime sale on Wednesday last week, the lambs ideal for restockers or lot feeders were dearer.
Restocking and feeder lambs sold stronger to a top of $197 for heavy trade lambs according to Meat and Livestock Australia.
On the back of the past few week's cheaper market, numbers dropped at Wagga Wagga prime sale last Thursday.
This meant prices increased $10/head for trade lambs, while the 21kg to 24kg lambs sold from $185 to $220 with carcase weight prices averaging 860c/kg to 880c/kg. Lightweight lambs to the processors and restockers jumped $20, making from $140 to $176.
All the buyers were operating at Cowra lamb sale last Friday and competition was strong resulting in a much dearer trend across the trade and heavy lambs.
The supply was also tighter and this meant medium and heavy trade lambs were $10 to $15 dearer and averaged about 900c/kg to 930c/kg.
Meanwhile, all categories of lambs were dearer at Dubbo on Monday.
Light lambs to restock and feed sold to a dearer trend according to MLA, and the majority of lambs sold from $110 to $185 after topping to a feeder order at $203.
Trade lambs were $4 to $5 dearer and most sold from $168 to $210. The heavy lambs lifted $4 and topped at $245, while extra heavy weights reached $270.
Wrapping up last month on AuctionsPlus, Tom Rookyard said there was a flood of stock online due to a combination of record prices during February and COVID-19.
Mr Rookyard said 480,000 sheep and lambs were offered across the month. The south-west of Victoria topped the listings followed by the Central West of NSW.
"Crossbred lambs averaging $172, up $7 on January," he said.
"However, it appears the last few days of March have seen the market come off the boil slightly as the spread of COVID-19 pushes uncertainty onto the market.
"The largest purchaser for March was the NSW Central West, seeing 70,000 sheep and lambs bought by the region."