Meat & Livestock News

2024 Begins with a Positive Outlook for Australian Livestock Markets

Black and white spotty cows on a farm stall

The Australian livestock markets have kicked off 2024 on a strong note, with both cattle and sheep sectors showing encouraging signs of growth following the Christmas break.

Cattle Market Sees Uplift

The cattle market has experienced a notable increase in prices over the last few months. This positive trend is largely attributed to the sale phase of calves born in winter and early spring, now transitioning into yearlings. The demand for weaners has peaked, as evidenced by the restocker yearling steer indicator climbing by 56¢ to 366¢/kg live weight (lwt) in the past month.

In Victoria, weaner sales have positively impacted cattle prices. Market reports from the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) indicate consistent, yet cautious, bidding at Wodonga. Buyers demonstrated price sensitivity, often withdrawing if prices exceeded their set limits. A notable trend was the price premium for weaned steer calves over 400kg, while the majority of calves weighed under 280 kg lwt.

Sheep Market Strengthens

Similarly, the sheep market has shown significant strength, with prices almost returning to early 2023 levels for both trade lamb and light lamb indicators. The trade lamb indicator notably increased by 134¢, reaching 774¢/kg carcase weight (cwt).

This rise was particularly evident in Wagga, where prices for trade and light lambs surged by $15-30/head. The market’s robustness is fueled by increased demand from processors and supermarkets, keen to stock up on lambs for the new year.

At the Hamilton sale yard, the first week of 2024 witnessed a price increase of $15-20/head. Although there was a slight decrease of $5-15/head in the subsequent week, the market remains strong, driven by interest from restockers and lot feeders.

The offerings mainly consisted of good quality trade weight lambs, with a smaller number of heavy weights and export sheep. Despite a minor dip in prices, the market maintains its vigour, underpinned by a balanced supply and demand dynamic.

In conclusion, the Australian livestock markets have started 2024 with optimism, marked by rising prices and strong demand in both cattle and sheep sectors, indicating a healthy market environment.