Meat & Livestock News

Forbes and Ballarat Livestock Markets Analysis: 16th January 2024


Forbes Livestock Market Report: 16th January 2024

In the latest saleyard activity, Forbes reported a significant increase in livestock numbers, with total yarding reaching 36,300, a jump of 12,000 from the previous sale. Sheep numbers rose to 9,150, and lamb numbers saw an even larger increase, with 27,150 lambs yarded.

The surge in lamb numbers was accompanied by a noticeable dip in quality. A greater proportion of plainer lambs were present alongside better-shaped and finished types. Despite this variety, the market remained relatively stable, albeit slightly cheaper as the sale progressed.

Trade weight lambs experienced a modest drop in price, selling between $148 and $212 per head for 20-24kg lambs. Heavier lambs (up to 26kg) held their ground price-wise, ranging from $198 to $224 per head. Extra heavyweights found their market value ranging from $216 to $266 per head, with carcass prices averaging between 770c and 830c/kg.

The mutton market saw a dramatic increase, more than doubling its numbers to 9,650 head. Quality was notably higher, leading to a price lift of $7 to $12 per head. Merino ewes varied between $55 and $122 per head, while crossbred ewes and Dorpers reached up to $123 and $113 per head, respectively. Merino wethers were sold for $63 to $130 each.

Ballarat Livestock Market Report: 16th January 2024

Ballarat’s saleyard reported a total yarding of 53,213, an increase of 10,713 from the last sale. The breakdown included 16,301 sheep and 36,912 lambs.

The quality of lambs at Ballarat ranged from plain to excellent, with a notable number of lambs off feed in excellent condition. This sale witnessed intense competition from store buyers, impacting processor bids, particularly for lambs intended for feeding or return to paddocks. The market was less vigorous than the previous week, especially for trade weight lambs.

Store lambs sold around $4/head either side of the previous price. Light trade lambs were down by $15/head, while medium and heavy trade lambs saw a $15 to $25/head decrease. Heavy export lambs experienced the most significant price drop, selling $25 to $35/head cheaper, with the top price reaching $268.

Lambs for paddock and feeding purposes attracted active bidding, selling from $41 to $145/head. Light trade lambs suitable for MK orders

sold between $76 and $138 per head, with carcass weight prices ranging from 580c to 720c/kg. Shorn lambs to the trade weighing 18 to 24kg fetched between $134 and $199 per head, and heavier lambs (24 to 26kg) sold for $190 to $218, averaging 700c to 780c/kg carcass weight. The heaviest export lambs, ranging from 26 to over 30kg, were priced from $203 to $268 per head, averaging 740c to 760c/kg.

The mutton sector at Ballarat almost doubled its numbers, with 16,300 sheep of mixed quality yarded. The market was somewhat erratic, with light and medium weights selling firm to $5 dearer, while heavy sheep gained $20 per head. Merino wethers sold from $54 to $117, depending on weight, and Merino ewes ranged from $27 to $119. Heavy crossbred mutton was priced from $64 to $112 per head, with an average price range of 260c to 330c/kg carcass weight.


The 16th January 2024 saleyards at Forbes and Ballarat witnessed significant shifts in livestock numbers and prices. Forbes experienced a substantial increase in lamb yarding with a mixed quality, leading to a generally steady yet slightly cheaper market. Ballarat, too, saw a rise in livestock numbers with a notable presence of store buyers influencing the market dynamics.

Lamb prices varied, with trade and heavier lambs at Forbes maintaining steadiness, while Ballarat observed a softening in prices across different weight categories. Mutton markets at both locations experienced an increase in numbers, with Forbes seeing a rise in quality and prices and Ballarat observing a more erratic market but generally firmer prices for light and medium weights.

This dual market analysis highlights the dynamic nature of livestock trading and the varying factors influencing prices and demand across different regions and livestock categories.