Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Overview of Cattle and Sheep Markets


  • Restocker yearling steer prices have decreased to 366¢/kg, while heavy lamb prices have dropped to 648¢/kg.
  • The total number of sheep and lambs slaughtered has increased significantly, reaching 677,821 head.
  • Market trends show a general easing in cattle and sheep indicators, with specific decreases in yardings and prices across various categories.

In the latest market update, both the cattle and sheep sectors have seen notable shifts. The cattle market, in particular, has experienced a general softening across all indicators. The total cattle yardings decreased by 3,898 to 75,856 head, with reductions observed in most states, excluding Tasmania and Victoria. This figure stands significantly above the five-week national average by 30,758 heads.

Specifically, the feeder steer indicator saw a decline of 21¢, settling at 335¢/kg live weight (lwt). This trend was mirrored in Queensland and New South Wales, where prices, despite easing, remained above the national average.

A notable decrease was also seen in the restocker yearling steer category, which dropped by 28¢ to 366¢/kg lwt, with Queensland prices being 10¢ above the national average and accounting for 70% of the indicator’s volume. Market reports suggest a more discerning approach from buyers, focusing on intentional and selective purchasing.

Turning to the sheep sector, all indicators pointed to a downturn. Combined sheep and lamb yardings saw a significant reduction of 50,976 head, with sheep yardings alone decreasing by 22% from the previous week.

The heavy lamb indicator fell by 49¢ to 648¢/kg carcass weight (cwt), with a noted lack of participation from major buyers leading to depressed prices. The trade lamb indicator also decreased by 33¢ to 636¢/kg cwt, reflecting a cautious approach from buyers who prioritised quality finishes on lambs.

In terms of slaughter figures for the week ending 9 February 2024, cattle slaughter increased across all states except Western Australia, rising by 8,513 to 122,577 head. This represents a 9% increase compared to the same period last year.

Similarly, the combined sheep and lamb slaughter numbers surged by 97,649 to 677,821 head, with lamb slaughter alone increasing by 68,116 to 475,975 head, making up 70% of the total weekly slaughter. This year’s weekly average for sheep and lamb slaughter has consistently exceeded the 2023 figures by 86,634 head, indicating a robust demand in the market.