Subscribe to MLA's e-newsletters

Stay informed with the latest red meat and livestock industry news, events, research and marketing.

Sign up
Back to News & Events

Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

01 September 2023

Key points:

  • Restocker sentiment continues to soften relative to overall prices.
  • Sheep and lamb yardings reached their highest numbers since May.
  • Slaughter numbers remain firm for cattle, lambs and sheep.


Consistent with trends over the past few months, the cattle market generally eased this week. Cattle yardings totaled 43,493 head, just 12 head more than last week. Most sales numbers increased or fell very slightly, except for Dalby, where yardings fell by 2,381 to 4,763 head.

The eastern young cattle indicator softened by 29¢ over the week to 481¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). The strength and intensity of the herd rebuild over the past three years has substantially increased the supply of cattle, especially for restockers. When compared to historical norms ,the increase can be seen in the composition of the indicator, which features an unusually high portion of feeder and processor cattle (46% and 13%).

The processor cow indicator held steady over the week at 198¢/kg live weight (lwt), as price movements in different states largely balanced each other out. In Queensland, the indicator eased by 11¢ over the week to 179¢/kg lwt, as buyers continued to preference condition, restricting demand on plainer cattle. By contrast, in NSW and Victoria, the indicator rose 5¢ over the week to 207¢/kg lwt, as slightly lower throughput largely came from lighter cows.


Sheep numbers were slightly more mixed, but numbers increased in every state except South Australia, where yardings fell by 22 to 1,586 head.

Prices generally softened, in keeping with trends over the past few months. New season lambs are now appearing in volume at some sales, pushing throughput up and changing the composition of the indicators, in turn affecting performance.

The heavy lamb indicator eased by 18¢ to 456¢/kg cwt over the week, primarily due to a much larger than average sale at Wagga, with relatively limited bidding on older and heavier lambs. Excluding Wagga, the indicator was relatively sedate, easing by 2¢ to end the week at 457¢/kg cwt.


Cattle slaughter rose by 4,921 head to 123,010 head. This was mostly due to a 4,877 increase in Queensland, while slaughter in other states moved sideways. In year-on-year terms, August cattle slaughter has been 27% higher than slaughter in 2022, the highest figure since 2019.

Overall, sheep and lamb slaughter rose by 23,764 head to 595,222 head. Lamb slaughter declined marginally in all states except South Australia, where slaughter grew 95% week-on-week to 24,858 head, meaning that national lamb slaughter was up by 11,456 at 448,187. Sheep slaughter rose in all states to 147,035 head, 12,408 higher than the previous week.