The lamb market is experiencing price fluctuations as it navigates a delicate balance between supply and demand.
While there has been an increase in lamb processing over the past two weeks, not all buyers are participating at the saleyards as strong numbers flow direct to processing plants.
According to the latest production figures from Meat & Livestock Australia, a total of 463,813 lambs were processed in the previous week.
Lamb numbers have seen a week-on-week increase at saleyards of 12,000 at a national level.
The rise in yarding numbers was driven by NSW, whereas Victoria and South Australia witnessed a decline in supply during the same period.
In contrast, despite lower supplies of mutton being recorded across all states, rates dropped 25 cents a kilogram carcase weight at the national level.
Over the course of the last month, mutton prices alone have experienced a significant decline of 135c/kg.
The price of mutton is now nearly 80 per cent lower than the previous year.
Saleyard prices have been notably erratic, especially in selling centres with limited numbers of well-finished stock.
Bidding on Monday at Bendigo's sale, for instance, showed a fluctuating pattern, with the market opening on a softer note, improving temporarily, before dropping back again.
This variability means that within a single lane, different outcomes can be observed for lambs of similar style and weight.
New-season trade lambs have seen a decline in prices ranging between $3-$10, while recording an average of 494c/kg.
Heavy sucker lambs sold between $115-$150, with an average price range of 483-512c/kg.
Old lambs, on the other hand, have fetched prices as high as $155, with an average of 453c/kg.
Lamb buyers held their bids back in what ended up being an erratic market at Ballarat.
Agents mustered 11,300 lambs, marking a lift of 4800 on the previous week.
Sheep numbers also increased to 3200.
Buyers continued to show selective bidding, with price outcomes determined by quality on offer.
Notably, lamb weight emerged as the influencing factor around rates, as well-bred and well-finished lambs consistently outperformed those types that were more-plainer bred.
Trade lambs weighing between 22-24kg fetched $88-$110, while those in the 25-26kg category experienced modest price gains, averaging 446c/kg.
Extra-heavy lambs reached the top price of $147 and averaged 421c/kg.
In contrast, sheep prices remained on a slippery slope, dipping by $8-$10, with carcase weight prices averaging between 90-100c/kg.
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