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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

10 November 2023

Key points:

  • The restocker yearling heifer indicator lifted 44¢ to 194¢/kg lwt.
  • The heavy lamb indicator eased 22¢ to 487¢/kg cwt.
  • Weekly cattle slaughter has remained above 100,000 head for the past 27 weeks.


Prices generally lifted this week, particularly for restocker and feeder cattle.

Yardings fell by 6,862 to 34,483 head, the lowest figure in five weeks. In Queensland, this was largely due to a smaller yarding of 1,680 head at Roma and the absence of Charters Towers from the weekly total. Meanwhile in Victoria the Melbourne Cup public holiday meant that several usual sales did not run, reducing yardings in the state by 2,794 to 3,943 head.

The restocker yearling heifer indicator lifted by 44¢ to 194¢/kg liveweight (lwt). Prices lifted at most sales, but the price increases were strongest in Queensland. Rain throughout the week supported buyer confidence and led to a 57¢ lift in prices over the week to 200¢/kg lwt.

The heavy steer indicator has eased by 4¢ to 204¢/kg lwt, with buyers continuing to emphasise condition in bidding decisions. At Wagga, sales of older steers pulled down the average condition of heavy steers, leading to a 6¢ easing from last week to 213¢/kg lwt. By contrast, at Dubbo, condition among heavy steers was reportedly very good, and prices lifted 12¢ to 214¢/kg lwt.

Sheep and lamb

The sheep and lamb market was mixed this week. Lamb prices generally eased, while the mutton indicator lifted 1¢ to 111¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Overall, yardings lifted by 14,600 to 307,799, which was largely due to a lift of 18,382 in lamb yardings to 237,917 head, while sheep yardings stayed relatively stable.

The heavy lamb indicator eased by 22¢ over the week to end at 487¢/kg cwt. In Bendigo, National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) market reports indicate that lines of plainer lambs met a muted reception from a smaller than normal bidding pool, as Melbourne Cup-related disruptions meant some usual buyers were absent.

Similarly, heavy lamb prices in Wagga fell 48¢ from last week to 471¢/kg cwt. Several export buyers were absent and average carcase weights were below the previous week’s – in this sale there were no heavy lambs over 30kg/cwt, compared to 747 lambs the previous week.


Week ending 3 November 2023

Cattle slaughter grew by 1,444 to 131,488 head. The largest increase was in Queensland, where numbers lifted by 1,667 to 68,722 head. Slaughter was down in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, while it lifted in Victoria and Western Australia. Weekly cattle slaughter has now been above 100,000 for the past 27 weeks, which is the longest period of elevated production since August 2020.

Combined lamb and sheep slaughter fell by 10,949 to 643,036 head. This was largely driven by a 19,978 head decrease in NSW lamb slaughter to 101,318 head, while lamb slaughter in other states and sheep slaughter nationally either held steady from last week or lifted slightly.