The traditional spring dip in prime lamb and mutton prices may be relatively short-lived this year.
Key benchmark price indicators for both lamb and mutton have shown signs of recovery this week after dropping for much of September.
Processors found themselves scrambling for numbers in a dearer market in some key eastern states saleyards on Monday and Tuesday.
Lamb slaughter in the eastern states dived by 12pc last week to 301,321 head last week compared with the previous week.
The biggest drop was in Victoria with an 18pc fall to 156,163 while the NSW kill declined by 6pc to 92,188. South Australia's lamb kill rose by 46,996 to 46,996.
The eastern states sheep slaughter fell by 9pc to 120,554 with NSW gaining 3pc to 54,346 while Victoria's dropped by 28pc to 40,000 and SA's by 2pc to 18,423.
Mutton prices, in particular, showed a firmer trend this week.
The Eastern States Mutton Indicator reached 584 cents a kilogram carcase weight on Tuesday, up 37c in the past week and 216c above year-ago levels.
The National Mutton Indicator is sitting at 554c, up 185c on the same time last year.
The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator at 803c is 127c above year-ago levels.
The NSW Trade Lamb Indicator is sitting at 822c, way above Victoria's 750c and South Australia's 761c.
NSW's Mutton Indicator at 589 is at a similar level to Victoria's (885c) with SA lagging at 530c.
Almost 18,000 lambs were yarded at Bendigo on Monday with price rises of $2 to $6 a head for the main runs of heavy lambs over 22kg.
Sheep numbers almost halved on week-ago levels which triggered a big jump in mutton prices as processors scrambled for stock.
The best runs of heavy lambs fetched from $200 to $246 with the main draft of 26kg to 30kg lambs averaging $230a head.
Mutton was the talking point of the sale, with price jumps of $20 to $30 common in a much smaller yarding of sheep.
Lamb prices at Forbes on Tuesday and Dubbo on Monday both showed a dearer trend.
The Forbes yarding of 25,100 head included 7600 new-season lambs.
New-season trade weights were $5 to $7 better with prices ranging from $158 to $204 head.
Heavy and extra heavyweights were also $4 to $7 head dearer with heavy lambs selling from $205 to $219 and extra heavyweights from $222 to $265.
Lamb prices came under pressure at Ballarat on Tuesday in the face of higher numbers of new-season lambs in the yarding of 10,880
Agents reported trade weights dropped by 10c a kg.
One pen of new season lambs sold to $350 a head with the proceeds donated to the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Centre.
Heavy 3 to 4 score trade weight lambs, 24kg to 26kg, sold from $185 to $250 to average around 800c a kg.
Export lambs 26kg to 30kg sold from $216 to $250 to average 800c a kg.
Sheep numbers decreased to 4826 head and prices jumped by around $20 to $30 a head.