Unsettled global economic conditions have added to the volatility of lamb markets in eastern Australia in what industry insiders described as a rough week at the saleyards, as the export production supply chain felt the pressure too.
Adding concerns to the domestic market is high inflation which is testing consumer confidence at the meat counter.
As consumers reach their protein needs, some may opt to trade down reflecting heightened economic uncertainty and the effect interest rates are having on family meal budgets.
Leading up to spring, the lamb and sheep markets have taken another significant hit amid plentiful supplies.
Yardings in Victoria and NSW have increased in the past week as producers race to offload old lambs before the perennial problem of old lambs turn into hoggets.
Numbers also bounced up at saleyards on Monday.
Only the best slaughter lambs attracted competition, with Victoria recording harsh discounts of up to $20 a head, while north of the border at Dubbo, NSW, and Corowa, NSW, rates held firm to slightly weaker for plainer types.
Meat & Livestock Australia's National Livestock Reporting Service figures show how the market has become extremely selective about quality, fat cover and skin presentation.
An example of skin presentation is at Dubbo where some major companies did not operate due to seed infestation.
Corkscrew grass is having a devastating impact on lambs, with the tip of the plant buried deep within a lamb's body.
This holds up meat supply chains and is not cost effective for processors to be trimming seed away from carcases.
At the Bendigo lamb market on Monday, numbers increased by 2500 head to 8100 lambs and 2470 sheep.
Not all buyers participated in the sale with plenty of lambs showing the effects of winter and requiring more finish.
Agents said some companies were set for a quiet week at saleyards as they had enough stock around them waiting for kill space.
The heaviest export lambs sold $10-$17 cheaper and made from $126-$174 to average 470-495 cents a kilogram carcase weight.
The trade-lamb market lacked buyer intensity and direction with rates dipping $12-$17.
The bulk sold from $46-$127 to average 525c/kg.
Light lambs suitable for processors sold at $12-$74.
The Ballarat lamb sale on Tuesday avoided the cheaper trends of other sales as the market gathered pace as the market progressed.
Trade lambs made modest gains of $2-$3 to average 510-562c/kg.
Heavy lambs sold $3-$13 dearer and recorded a top price of $189.
The mutton sale fell into a big hole, slipping $20 to average 202-233c/kg.