Meat & Livestock News

Australian Cattle and Sheep Market Trends: A Comprehensive Wrap

Shaved sheep on a sheep farm.

In the Australian livestock market, there has been a notable uplift in both cattle and sheep sectors, influenced by recent rainfall across the country, boosting market confidence.

Cattle Market Trends

The cattle market has seen a significant increase this week. Total yardings rose by 4,651 to 41,637, primarily driven by higher yardings in Queensland. Notably, Charters Towers reported 2,517 head, resuming after not running last week, and Dalby’s yardings increased by 2,280 to 4,003 head.

The feeder steer indicator experienced a rise of 42 cents, reaching 287 cents per kilogram live weight (lwt). This increase was more pronounced in the north, although it was observed across the east coast.

In Victoria, the indicator rose by 12 cents to 229 cents/kg lwt, with price increases in Wodonga offset by decreases in Mortlake and Shepparton. In Queensland, the indicator surged by 60 cents to 327 cents/kg lwt, marking the highest point since early July.

Interestingly, prices for restocker cattle have risen more than those for finished cattle, reversing the trend observed throughout the year. For instance, the restocker yearling heifer price increased by 43 cents to 277 cents/kg lwt, while the processor cow price rose by 19 cents to 206 cents/kg lwt.

Sheep and Lamb Market Trends

The sheep and lamb market also experienced growth over the week. Lamb yardings increased by 19,942 to 243,456 head, and sheep yardings rose by 5,921 to 93,442 head.

The light lamb indicator went up by 42 cents to 449 cents per kilogram carcase weight (cwt). Price increases were reported in nearly every state and sale yard, with strong competition from buyers and good condition of new season lambs, which now constitute the majority of sales.

The mutton indicator saw a 54-cent increase to 205 cents/kg cwt. Recent rainfall has reduced the urgency for destocking among some producers, and an improvement in the average quality of sheep was noted. Over the last month, the mutton indicator has risen by 96 cents, an 87% increase in price.

Slaughter Figures

As of the week ending 24/11/2023, cattle slaughter decreased by 4,075 to 128,454 head. Queensland saw a drop of 3,847 to 65,913 head, while New South Wales reported an increase of 1,120 to 33,822 head. 

Lamb slaughter increased by 14,816 to 493,778 head, whereas sheep slaughter decreased by 10,138 to 186,041 head. Overall, slaughter figures remained firm in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria, with only a minor decrease of 62 head between them. Western Australia’s combined slaughter eased by 27,637 head.

The combined slaughter figure of 679,815 head is the largest recorded for 2023, with lamb slaughter in Victoria reaching a record high of 251,459 head.

Beef Producer Intentions Survey

The November beef producer intentions survey is currently underway, focusing on grass-fed cattle producers. This survey aims to gather valuable herd demographic data, sentiment insights, and indications of producers’ intentions for the next 12 months.

Participants in the survey can opt to receive a benchmarking scorecard, comparing their performance against similar producers in their state and with comparable herd sizes.