Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Market Update: Trends in Cattle and Sheep Prices


  • Processor cow prices have seen a slight decrease, while light lamb prices have experienced an increase.
  • The market for cattle has generally softened, with a notable decrease in yardings, while sheep market trends have been mixed.
  • Quality continues to play a crucial role in commanding better prices for both sheep and cattle.

In the latest market wrap provided by Meat & Livestock Australia, the agricultural sector has observed varied trends in cattle and sheep prices as of 8 March 2024. The report highlights key movements in the market, including a slight decrease in processor cow prices and an uplift in light lamb prices, underscoring the influence of quality on market values.

Cattle Market Overview:

The cattle market has shown a general easing across all indicators this past week. Total yardings have decreased to 62,583 head, still above the weekly average and marking a 23% increase from the previous year. Processor cow prices have slightly eased to 234¢/kg liveweight (lwt), with prices remaining steady across states despite the overall easing.

The report also notes an increase in yardings for processor-ready cattle, reflecting growing demand and helping to sustain prices. Restocker yearling steer prices have seen a decline, with quality being a significant driver of prices, especially for medium to heavy cattle intended for restocking.

Sheep Market Insights:

The sheep market has displayed mixed trends, with both heavy and light lamb prices seeing an increase. Sheep yardings have significantly decreased, alongside a decline in lamb yardings, indicating a 26% drop in total yardings. The light lamb indicator has risen to 549¢/kg carcass weight (cwt), with Victorian prices notably higher than the national average.

Trade lamb prices have slightly eased, with demand continuing for trade lambs in the 20–24 kg range, although lambs with longer wool are facing discounts.

Slaughter Figures and Production:

Cattle slaughter has decreased to 116,179 head, with mixed trends observed across states. Sheep and lamb slaughter figures have also seen a slight decrease, with lamb slaughter easing by 19% and sheep slaughter rising, reflecting varied regional trends.

The report attributes these movements to both seasonal conditions and market demands, with processors expressing optimism for pricing lifts in global markets later in the year, particularly towards the UK, the EU, and North America.

This weekly wrap-up provides a snapshot of the current state of the cattle and sheep markets, indicating the ongoing impact of seasonal conditions, demand fluctuations, and quality on pricing and production trends. As the agricultural sector navigates these varied market conditions, the emphasis on quality and strategic decision-making remains paramount for producers looking to maximise their returns.