Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Overview of Australian Cattle and Sheep Markets

A farm of trimmed white and brown sheep and rams

Cattle Market Trends

Yardings and Prices

The past week saw an increase in cattle yardings, rising by 8,243 to a total of 34,299 head. This uptick was primarily due to resumed sales in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, which had been paused the previous week due to public holidays.

Processor Cow Indicator

The processor cow indicator experienced a 13-cent increase, settling at 155¢/kg live weight (lwt). This rise was partially influenced by the Wagga sale, which accounted for 18% of the throughput and had prices 8¢ above the national average.

This, in turn, elevated the overall indicator. Processor cow prices generally saw an increase in all states except South Australia, where a slightly higher throughput and slower bidding led to a minor dip in the indicator.

Steer Prices

Steer prices witnessed a decline over the week. The feeder steer indicator dropped by 13¢ to 205¢/kg lwt, while the heavy steer indicator decreased by 11¢ to 220¢/kg lwt.

According to the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS), there is a widening gap between quality lines and plainer cattle. The heavy steer indicator is now 15¢ more expensive than the feeder steer indicator, marking the largest premium since October 2019.

Sheep and Lamb Market Trends


Lamb yardings saw a significant increase, rising by 32,851 head, while sheep yardings increased by 41,018 to 97,563 head. Wagga yardings alone rose by 23,500 to 69,500 head, recording the largest yarding since March and the largest sheep yarding since December 2022.

Lamb Indicator Prices

Lamb indicator prices moderately eased this week. The heavy lamb indicator fell by 9¢ to 484¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) primarily due to price reductions in NSW. Despite this, the indicator in Victoria actually increased by 2¢ over the week to 484¢/kg cwt.

However, all lamb and sheep indicators remain above their levels from a month ago, as the price decrease was relatively limited compared to the significant price rise observed the previous week.

Slaughter Rates

Cattle Slaughter

Overall cattle slaughter decreased by 11% week-on-week to 111,125 head, marking the smallest kill since early May. Public holidays had a noticeable impact, with NSW slaughter falling by 10%, Queensland by 19%, and South Australia by 16%. In contrast, slaughter rates in Victoria and Western Australia increased.

Sheep and Lamb Slaughter

Sheep and lamb slaughter rates also declined. Lamb slaughter fell by 11,121 to 415,357 head, and sheep slaughter dropped by 16,180 to 134,698 head. A notable exception was in Victoria, where lamb slaughter rose by 35,303 to 232,174 head, setting a new weekly record.

Sheep Producer Intentions Survey

The October Sheep Producer Intentions Survey is currently underway. This survey aims to gather crucial industry data, especially since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ceased reporting categorical sheep flock numbers in January 2023.

In summary, the Australian cattle and sheep markets are experiencing varied trends. While cattle yardings and processor cow prices are on the rise, steer prices are seeing a decline.

On the sheep and lamb front, yardings have increased significantly, but prices have moderately eased. Slaughter rates for both cattle and sheep have generally decreased, influenced by public holidays.