The official notification of an El Nino event by the Bureau of Meteorology seems to have led to a severe reduction in restocker competition on light lambs at sales right across NSW this week.
It's in stark contrast to last week where Meat and Livestock Australia global supply analyst Tim Jackson said restocker purchases of new season lambs at Carcoar pushed the indicator at that saleyard up 93 cents a kilogram to 295/kg, while a quality run at Wagga resulted in a lift of 36c/kg to 395/kg.
New season lambs have generally been hitting the market later than usual this year, but that potential gap has been filled by later finishing older season lambs.
It's meant processors have been topped up with plenty of lambs to fill their kill schedules.
Talk among producers at Forbes sale on Tuesday was how unusual it was to still be seeing old lambs make up a large portion of the market as we head into October.
About 36 per cent (10,800 head) of the offering at Forbes were new season lambs, while Mr Jackson said 17,600 new season lambs made up 30pc of the yarding at Wagga last Thursday.
Forbes Livestock and Agency Company director Tim Mackay said restocker competition for the young lambs had waned as people assess their options and consider the potential of heading into a dry summer.
"It's evident this week the lambs are starting to dry out," he said.
"Last week's yarding [at Forbes] was much fresher, but the warmer weather and need for rain has pulled the condition back. That's most noticeable for those from the north and west of Forbes."
He said the lighter restocker suckers were about 10c/kg cheaper than last week, while the supermarket trade lambs were back about 10c/kg to 15c/kg.
"A bright spot was the prices for heavy export lambs, which I'd estimate were firm on last week," he said.
"But that's a supply and demand thing as there's fewer of them being yarded."
Another surprising trend was the bottom end of the Merino and older lambs.
"I'd estimate they sold better than three weeks ago," Mr Mackay said.
Garry Penfold, Emohruo, Quandialla, has been marketing his sucker lambs straight off the ewe for several weeks and said the market was about $10 cheaper this week when compared with the week before.
"I got $120 a head for my lambs at Forbes this week, but that's really a reflection on how the overall market is trending at the moment," Mr Penfold said.
"I'm hoping to sell most of my lambs sooner rather than later this year so I'm not having to worry about shearing and potentially grain feeding."
Mr Penfold's lambs sold on Tuesday were estimated at 51kg (liveweight) and were from Merino/Border Leicester ewes by Poll Dorset rams.
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