Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Cattle and Sheep Market Update as of 12 January 2024

The Australian cattle and sheep markets have shown diverse trends as of 12 January 2024, with cattle prices generally increasing and mixed results in the sheep and lamb sector.

Cattle Market Developments

This week, the cattle market experienced a general uplift, primarily driven by strong processor demand for weaner cattle. Yardings rose by 7,027 to 24,547 head, a typical increase for the beginning of the year. The restocker yearling steer indicator notably increased by 113¢ to 360¢/kg live weight (lwt).

In Queensland, prices were 31¢ above the national average, making up 64% of the market. According to the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS), significant rainfall over Christmas contributed to a price improvement of 20–30¢/kg in Dalby.

The feeder steer indicator also saw an increase, rising by 54¢ to 306¢/kg lwt. This rise in cattle prices is largely due to a shortage of domestic stock, leading to positive price trends across New South Wales and Queensland.

Sheep and Lamb Market Insights

The sheep and lamb market presented mixed price movements. After the Christmas break, total yardings significantly increased by 221,312 to 316,193 head, mainly driven by a rise in lamb yardings by 195,064 to 241,995 head.

The trade lamb indicator marginally increased by 5¢ to 776¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Prices varied by region, with New South Wales seeing a 27¢ increase, while Victorian prices eased by 19¢. Forbes reported higher prices due to a well-supplied market at the opening, whereas Hamilton experienced a strong market but a decrease of $5-$15 per head for unshorn lambs.

The light lamb indicator, however, eased by 59¢ to 708¢/kg cwt. Despite reaching the highest prices since early 2023, the market saw a slight easing due to increased competition from restockers and a generally strong market. Nonetheless, there remains a growing interest in light lambs.

Slaughter Reports

Slaughter reports are set to commence on 17 January 2024 as processors reopen following the Christmas break.

In summary, the start of 2024 has brought a mix of trends in the Australian livestock markets, with cattle prices showing an overall increase and sheep and lamb markets experiencing varied movements.