Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Update on Cattle and Sheep Markets as 2023 Draws to a Close

A farm of trimmed white and brown sheep and rams

Cattle Market Trends

As the festive season approaches, the cattle market has shown a downward trend this week. With Christmas imminent, several key saleyards have concluded their operations for the year and are set to resume in the new year.

Market reports indicate a reduction in activity from key buyers and processors, leading to a softer market compared to the previous week. Cattle yardings have seen a substantial decrease, dropping by 75,112 to 7,452 head. This significant decline aligns with seasonal expectations.

The feeder steer price has fallen by 36c to 249c/kg liveweight (lwt). While prices across the eastern states have generally eased, Western Australia has experienced a price increase. In New South Wales, the market has mostly softened, but Wagga has seen a rise of 15p above the national average price of 249c/kg lwt. This increase is attributed to the availability of suitable cattle for feeders and restockers.

Similarly, Carcoar witnessed a price rise of 32c above the national average. The limited yardings reflect producers’ preference for quality young cattle to enter the market in the new year.

Sheep and Lamb Market Overview

The sheep and lamb market presented a mixed picture this week. Yardings decreased by 373,799 to 120,267 head, marking a 76% reduction from the previous week.

The trade lamb indicator declined by 18c to 622c/kg carcase weight (cwt). State-wise, the prices varied, with Victorian prices falling by 33c below the national average of 622c/kg cwt. According to the National Reporting Livestock Service (NLRS), reduced intensity for trade and heavy lambs contributed to the suppressed prices.

Conversely, the light lamb indicator increased by 25c to 541c/kg cwt. This rise in prices was driven by more competitive bidding for lighter lambs, coupled with a decreased demand for export and heavy lambs due to pre-arranged Christmas kills.

Slaughter Figures

For the week ending 15 December 2023, cattle slaughter numbers declined by 4,192 to 116,695 head. The majority of states saw a significant easing in slaughter numbers, with a collective increase observed only in Queensland and Western Australia, amounting to 984 heads.

In contrast, sheep and lamb slaughter numbers increased by 175,712 to 849,118 head, representing a 26% week-on-week rise. This increase is the highest recorded in 2023.

This weekly update provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of the cattle and sheep markets as the year 2023 nears its end, highlighting key trends in pricing, yardings, and slaughter figures.