Lamb prices have zoomed up in the past week with the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator climbing 52 cents to finish at 795c a kilogram carcase weight on Tuesday.
The trade lamb indicator is now sitting 125c above year-ago levels as keen export demand, tight supply and useful but patchy rains continues to put upward pressure on an already hot market.
There were no sales on Monday because of Australia Day which added to the price pressure.
The Eastern States Restocker Indicator has jumped 90c in the past week to 865c which is a whopping 215c higher than the same time last year.
Rises in the Eastern States Mutton Indicator have been more subdued with a 23c lift in the past week to 596c.
Livestock agents at leading selling centres believe the rising market since the start of 2020 might flush a few more lambs and sheep onto the market in the coming week but say the numbers aren't around for any major lift in saleyard numbers.
One potential threat to upset the lamb and mutton apple cart is the serious outbreak of coronavirus in China, the biggest importer of Australian sheepmeat.
Landmark Ballarat livestock manager, Xavier Shanahan, said prices at Tuesday's sale were the highest for a while with heavy lambs topping at $280.
He said producers in the region were in no rush to sell their shorn lambs after a good spring and recent rains that had boosted summer crops.
He said the lamb market was now about $30 dearer compared with the final sale of 2019.
Meat and Livestock Australia reported a $5 to $10 lift in lamb prices and higher in places at Ballarat with a slightly reduced yarding of 14,771.
Sheep numbers edged up to 13,267 with both lighter and heavier mutton easing by $10 a head.
Principal of Wagga Regional Livestock, Isaac Hill, said last week's lamb market at Wagga Wagga had been $15 to $25 dearer.
"We had a few blokes around here with fed lambs who were waiting for a price rise, so there will be a few more lambs about (at today's sale) I would imagine," Mr Hill said.
He said processors had now cleared any backlog of contracted lambs and sheep over the holiday period.
The Wagga region hadn't received much rain yet and producers were desperately hoping for a wet autumn, he said.
Elders Dublin/Yorke Peninsula livestock manager. Matt Ward, doesn't believe lamb and sheep yarding numbers at the South Australian Livestock Exchange (Dublin) will rise much above this week's 7500 in coming weeks.
Traditionally, yardings climb up to 10,000 to 12,000 head in the autumn period but he said the numbers weren't around this year.
"Numbers will remain tight. There are no sheep in the pastoral areas of SA."
While Stephen Crisp, acting CEO of peak national body, Sheep Producers Australia, is pleased drought-hit producers can offload stock into a strong market he is worried about the ongoing depletion of the core breeding flock.
He said the continued sell-off of breeders would hamper rebuilding once the drought finally broke.