Meat & Livestock News

Cattle Market Sees Adjustment as Supply Overtakes Demand


  • Slaughter and feeder cattle markets adjust to increased supply, with rates decreasing.
  • Processors face booking delays, indicating a shift from the previously abundant kill space.
  • The market anticipates potential disruptions from upcoming holidays and weather-related concerns.
  • The international beef trim market shows positive movement, contrasting domestic trends.

This week, the cattle market experienced a notable adjustment, with direct consignment rates for slaughter cattle decreasing by 10 c/kg and larger declines observed in the saleyard system. Processors are now facing a backlog, reporting three-week delays for over-the-hooks bookings, a stark contrast to the situation just two weeks ago when slaughter space was readily available.

In southern Queensland, competitive processors have reduced rates by 10c/kg across all slaughter lines since Monday, marking the first decrease since late October. Before the onset of rain relief, cow prices were at 355c and four-tooth steer at 440c/kg. Currently, heavy cows are priced at 510c/kg, and four-tooth heavy steer at 570c/kg in southern Queensland, reflecting a surplus of cattle in the market.

Central Queensland rates remain similar to those in the south, though further reductions are being considered by some processors. The increase in cattle ready for market is attributed to the rain beginning in November and producers anticipating a peak in market prices.

Beef Central had previously predicted a market correction due to the growing supply. In southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia, rates have also decreased by 10c, with heavy cows at 490c and 500 c respectively, and steers at 540c.

The upcoming Easter holiday and subsequent ANZAC day may further impact processor demand due to shortened production weeks. Additionally, concerns about potential flooding in Queensland’s Gulf Country following heavy rain from ex-Cyclone Kirrilly and a new Tropical Low could affect the market.

The feeder cattle market is mirroring the trend seen in slaughter stock, with rates dropping by at least 10 c/kg. Some large feedlot operators have paused paddock quotes, anticipating a declining market. Saleyard trends also reflect a downturn, with prices for grown meatworks steers, slaughter cows, and feeders falling in key sales.

Despite the domestic market’s challenges, there’s been a positive shift in the international beef trim market, with 90CL cow trim in the US reaching its highest level since October last year.