Saleyard records tumble as lamb prices rise

Restocker lamb takes leading role in Australia's lamb story

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PEN INSPECTION: David Fatchen, Freeling, was looking at crossbred lambs at the SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday.

PEN INSPECTION: David Fatchen, Freeling, was looking at crossbred lambs at the SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday.

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Restocker lambs the star of the show when it comes to lamb prices with recent rainfall in key sheep areas driving prices.

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LAMB prices hit saleyard highs at both Naracoorte and Dublin this week.

At Naracoorte on Tuesday, 127 second-cross lambs from Peter and Ruth Gericke, Hynam, sold for $295.50, while at the SA Livestock Exchange in Dublin on Tuesday, 32 November-shorn heavy lambs from TH&YA Correll, Lochiel, set a saleyard lamb record of $274.

Meat & Livestock Australia confirmed the Naracoorte result was a state record for second-cross lambs to processors.

Landmark Naracoorte branch manager Richard Jennings, who sold the $295.50 pen, said they were an "outstanding pen of lambs", bought by Thomas Foods International.

The lambs are from Poll Dorset rams over first-cross ewes and were finished on irrigated lucerne stands.

All up, the Gerickes offered 207 lambs, averaging $287.50.

Mr Gericke said he had sent in a similar consignment a month or so ago, which sold at $195.

"That's just the difference in the market," he said.

He did not sell in spring, and kept the lambs on irrigation in the hope the price would rise.

"I'd been told the price was rising and thought I might get $250, but also thought that might be wishful thinking," he said. "To see what they did get was very pleasing."

The Gerickes previously set a national lamb record of $243.50 in 2011.

Mr Jennings said reduced supply was driving prices upwards.

"There is a lack of numbers through other centres," he said. "Bendigo, Vic, and Wagga Wagga, NSW, dropped 50 per cent in numbers this week. The market is very quality-related."

The Dublin result easily eclipsed the centre's previous record of $258, paid for 120 crossbreds from ND&AM Jaeschke Family Trust, Clare, just two weeks ago.

With buyers competing on a much smaller yarding at Dublin, prices were up across the board, rising $10 a head to $15/hd.

Elders Dublin/Yorke Peninsula livestock manager Matt Ward said continued dry conditions had caused decreased lamb production last year and therefore spurred on this year's lack of lamb supply through the market.

"It has caused increased competition for lambs and price records are expected to continue," he said.

"There will be a shortage of lambs next year too, because I would hate to know how many ewes have been slaughtered this year."

Mr Ward said processors were the major lamb buyers.

"Anyone else will struggle to secure lambs against them," he said. "Processors are buying lambs at very light weights, making it hard for others to compete. Smaller lambs are being sold overseas as 'bag lambs' at about 14 kilograms liveweight."

Mr Ward expected lamb prices to remain high as processors needed to source at least 50pc of their weekly kill through saleyards.

"Processors would have forward contracts until about July, but they would need to make up the shortfall," he said.

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