TIGHT supplies of quality stock pushed prices to 400c/kg for the first time this season at last week's Hamilton prime market.
Karabeal producers John and Yvonne Brewis were among a few at Hamilton who sold lambs for 400c/kg carcass weight, amid competitive bidding frenzy from a full complement of export buyers.
The Brewis' run of 242 May-June drop secondary lambs, estimated at 27-28kg dressed weight, sold for $124.60 to T&R Pastoral at Murray Bridge.
The family's top draft of 61 lambs, estimated at 32kg dressed with a $14-$15 skin, were also bought by T&R for $128 or 353/kg.
"They are the best lambs we've ever produced," John said, agreeing with manager Steven Collins that "good rams, good ewes and good feed" was the winning formula.
Kerr and Co Livestock auctioneer Craig Pertzel said Hamilton agents yarded 53,129 lambs last Wednesday - 29,888 the Monday before - and 55,400 a fortnight ago.
He put the $5-$8 price rise for most medium to heavy-trade and heavy-weight lambs down to a lack of quality and weight in other areas - due to the season coinciding with a freeing up of processor kill space.
"I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier," he said.
Hamilton, Ballarat, south Gippsland and southeast South Australia remain the only areas where fresh trade and heavy lambs were still in good numbers, he said.
"Quite simply they (the buyers) ran out of quality and weight; they only have one or two places to shop."
Craig expected supplies of good quality trade and heavy lambs to tighten further in January next year as lambs shorn in the previous month had insufficient pelts yet to market.
With supplies of sucker lambs expected to tighten, Craig believed there were now opportunities for store buyers on lighter lambs for supply after February, provided producers had the green feed to finish them.
Pictures: Terry Sim