Livestock fat markets face a bumpy road ahead for the next week or two until numbers flow enough to show the true state of supply and demand across the eastern states.
At the close of markets in December, the industry saw heavy lambs 26-kilograms-plus bounce $20 a head, as was delivered at Wagga Wagga, NSW, and Griffith, NSW.
Mutton prices went south declining up to $30, while cow and bullock prices experienced some dramatic price corrections of more than $200.
The price fluctuations add to market instability as producers react by skipping sales in a short-term protest, while abattoirs end up with a backlog of animals as they move to take advantage of cheaper buying opportunities.
The yo-yo cycle is unlikely to change anytime soon.
A higher Australian dollar is only adding to the mix and may suppress prices for stock destined for overseas markets.
Opening weaner sales in two states commenced on Monday and December sales showed it would be a great ride for vendors.
Feature sales at Euroa and sales at Naracoorte, South Australia, in December showed how consistency and buying depth stemming from a magnificent season is at the forefront of buyers' minds, with prices averaging between $1600 and $1800 for Angus steers.
The market highs at store sales will come down to what orders and buyers turn up to compete at different locations across the action-packed week.
The lamb markets in both Victoria and NSW opened strongly with rates rising sharply on the back of limited supplies.
And unless numbers improve markedly, it looks set to be a tough year for processors.
Prices sizzled at Bendigo on Monday in a small yarding of 7450 lambs and 1450 sheep.
The biggest price lifts were shorn trade lambs, 21 to 24kg carcase weight.
Prices surged ahead $30 to $50 due to strong demand from domestic processors and competition from restockers.
The best of the trade lambs made from $215 to $227 to average 905 cents a kilogram carcase weight, with some sales selling above 980c/kg carcase weight.
Restockers paid $184 to $220 in this weight category.
Heavy lambs sold to dearer trends which appears to be affected by the limited numbers.
Heavy lambs sold from $225 to $255 to average 827c/kg carcase weight.
Tight supplies were also helping to support the mutton market in response to recent price corrections.
Rates took a flying leap of $28 to average 644c/kg carcase weight.
On Tuesday at Naracoorte, SA, lambs showed dearer trends of $20 to $28, with trade lambs averaging 876c/kg carcase weight, while heavy lambs averaged 900c/kg carcase weight.
- Leann Dax is an NLRS market reporter.