Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Cattle and Sheep Market Wrap

TL;DR: The weekly cattle and sheep market saw mixed trends. Cattle yardings fell by 30%, but prices generally rose. Sheep prices increased across all indicators despite lower yardings. Cattle slaughter reached a four-year high, while combined sheep and lamb slaughter remained significant. Farmers must stay updated to navigate these changes.

Cattle Market Overview

The cattle market has generally been positive, except for the Restocker Yearling Steer Indicator. Yardings decreased by 21,142 head, a 30% reduction, ending the week at 49,996 head.

The Processor Cow Indicator increased by 18¢ to 221¢/kg liveweight (lwt). Prices rose in all states except Tasmania. Although cow numbers declined, they sold to a stronger trend. At Wagga, not all processors were actively bidding to acquire cows across all categories due to a backlog of processors.

The Heavy Steer Indicator went up by 6¢ to 300¢/kg lwt, with yardings easing to 1,327 head. Prices rose in all states except Queensland, where there was a decrease of 6¢. At Carcoar, quality was above average with lightweight cattle suitable for feeder and restockers penned. Prices at Wagga were 18¢ higher, with Pakenham following the same trend.

Sheep Market Overview

The sheep market has seen significant price lifts for all indicators. Yardings eased for both sheep and lambs by 20% and 17%, respectively, totalling 49,762 to 230,068 head.

The Restocker Lamb Indicator rose by 70¢ to 603¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Prices fell in NSW by 11¢ to 646¢/kg cwt, contributing to 50% of the indicator. Despite this, prices increased in other key sheep-producing states. At Ballarat, bidding was intense for animals with good fat cover and finish. Notably, quality was mixed at Bendigo, with plainer animals and smaller lots.

The Merino Lamb Indicator increased by 58¢ to 555¢/kg cwt, with yardings easing by 698 to 12,681 head. The largest price increase was seen in NSW, with a 71¢ rise to 591¢/kg cwt, mainly driven by Wagga and Forbes. At Forbes, there was a higher throughput of Merino lambs. Wagga reported that prices rose to premium levels for Merino lambs.

Slaughter Data

Cattle slaughter increased for the third consecutive week by 2,877 to 142,162 head. This is the largest weekly slaughter in four years. NSW slaughter rose by 2,533 to 34,853 head, while Queensland slaughter eased slightly by 139 head to 74,765 head. This week, Queensland and NSW had the second-largest weekly slaughter, with Victoria having the largest weekly slaughter.

Combined sheep and lamb slaughter eased by 6,303 to 690,377 head, mainly due to a reduction in lamb slaughter by 8,503 to 500,016 head. Despite the slight reduction, lamb slaughter remained above half a million head for the fifth week in a row, marking it as the sixth-largest weekly slaughter on record. Tasmanian and Victorian lamb slaughter decreased by 2,514 and 9,126 head, respectively.

Sheep slaughter rose by 2,200 to 190,361 head. There were decreases in sheep slaughter in NSW, Victoria, and WA, with increases in Queensland, SA, and Tasmania. Slaughter in NSW fell by 5,962 to 76,573 head, while Victorian slaughter increased by 5,856 to 59,745 head. After record processing numbers in Victoria last week, this marks the second-largest processing week for both sheep and lambs.

The weekly market wrap shows varied trends across cattle and sheep markets. While certain indicators have seen price increases, overall yardings and slaughter numbers highlight significant shifts. Farmers and market watchers should stay informed on these changes to navigate the current market landscape effectively.