Meat & Livestock News

Australian Cattle and Sheep Market Weekly Summary for Early February 2024


  • Queensland’s demand for medium and heavy feeder steers pushed prices significantly above the national average.
  • Trade lambs fed on supplements at Ballarat fetched prices well above the national indicator.
  • Overall, sheep and lamb slaughter numbers increased, indicating a busy week in the markets.

In the first week of February 2024, Australia’s cattle and sheep markets experienced varied trends, with significant movements in both pricing and slaughter numbers. Here’s a breakdown of the key developments across the sectors:

Cattle Market Dynamics:

The cattle market presented a mixed picture, with feeder and restocker steers seeing price increases, while other categories experienced a softening in prices. Total yardings for the week surged to 74,172, marking a substantial 38% increase from the previous week and nearly doubling year-on-year.

Feeder steer prices edged up by 5 cents to 355 cents/kg carcass weight (cwt), with yardings for this category rising by 38% to 15,407 head. Queensland emerged as a competitive hotspot, with prices for medium and heavy feeder steers reaching 373 cents/kg live weight (lwt), nearly 20 cents above the national indicator.

Conversely, heavy steer prices dipped by 10 cents to 301 cents/kg lwt, influenced by an increased supply and a shift in demand towards lighter export products.

Sheep and Lamb Sector Insights:

The sheep and lamb markets saw a general easing in prices, with most indicators dropping between 20 and 40 cents. However, Merino lambs bucked the trend, gaining nearly 20 cents to 562 cents/kg cwt.

Yardings for sheep and lambs decreased by 12% week-to-week to 346,920 head, with both sheep and lamb numbers contributing to the decline. The national trade lamb indicator fell by 22 cents to 682 cents/kg cwt, despite a reduction in trade lamb yardings. High-quality trade lambs, particularly those off supplementary feed, managed to mitigate the impact of falling prices, with standout sales in Forbes and Ballarat.

Slaughter Figures:

Cattle slaughter numbers rose significantly, with an 18,477 head increase to 114,064 head. Queensland saw the most substantial rise in slaughter numbers, up by 23% to 57,187 head.

Combined sheep and lamb slaughter also increased, reaching 580,172 head, 3% above the figures from the same period last year. New South Wales recorded the most significant jump in sheep and lamb slaughter, up by 12% or 21,394 head.

This week’s market activities reflect the dynamic nature of Australia’s cattle and sheep sectors, with regional variations and market demands driving significant shifts in pricing and slaughter numbers. As the year progresses, these trends will continue to shape the landscape for producers and buyers alike.