Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Market Wrap: Trends in Australian Cattle and Sheep Sectors


  • The cattle market sees a downturn with a notable decrease in yardings and prices across all indicators.
  • The sheep market also experiences a decline, with mutton and lamb indicators dropping amidst varying yardings.
  • Heavyweight ewes in the sheep sector enjoy a price premium due to consistent quality, contrasting with the broader market downturn.

The Australian cattle and sheep markets have both experienced downturns this week, according to the latest data. In the cattle sector, there has been a significant reduction in yardings, dropping by 20,001 to 67,332 head, which represents a 30% increase from the figures reported in 2023. This week’s yardings have seen a 40% increase compared to the same period last year.

The feeder steer indicator has fallen by 21 cents to 308 cents per kilogram liveweight (lwt), with yards remaining stable at around 9,257 head. This decline reflects a weaker demand, leading to less competition for well-finished cattle. Restocker yearling steers have seen a decrease of 16 cents to 339 cents/kg lwt, with an increase in yardings by 1,542 to 5,466 head, indicating a market trend towards heavier cattle despite the age.

In the sheep sector, the market has mirrored the cattle sector’s downturn, with yardings decreasing by 17,997 to 233,434 head. Both sheep and lamb yardings have seen a decline of 15% and 4%, respectively. The light lamb indicator has dropped by 17 cents to 532 cents/kg carcass weight (cwt), and yarding has eased by 1,849 to 25,582 head.

However, short-skin and well-finished light lambs have received a premium in the market. The mutton indicator has slightly decreased by 2 cents to 223 cents/kg cwt, with prices varying across states. Victorian prices have increased by 15 cents due to greater competition among buyers at Ballarat, while prices at Dubbo have decreased by 7 cents but remain 20 cents above the national average.

This price variation is attributed to the consistent quality of heavyweight ewes, which has led to a price premium in the market.

The overall downturn in the cattle and sheep markets reflects broader trends in the Australian livestock industry, with both sectors facing challenges in maintaining price stability amidst fluctuating demand and yardings.

Despite these challenges, certain segments of the market, such as heavyweight ewes in the sheep sector, continue to perform well due to consistent quality and buyer competition.