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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

11 August 2023

Key points:

  • Cattle yardings hit a three-month high.
  • Heavier lamb and mutton prices declined.
  • Slaughter remains at elevated levels.


Cattle yardings lifted 7% week-on-week to 51,990 head, the highest weekly volume since early May.  Yardings in Queensland eased by 2,430 to 16,611 head, largely due to a 1,904 head softening in Roma, while yardings rose by 5,803 head in NSW and were largely unchanged everywhere else.

Indicator prices eased this week, with slightly fewer buyers present at several larger sales and variable condition impacting the makeup of indicators.  

The feeder steer indicator eased 7¢ week-on-week to finish at 314¢/kg lwt, but there was considerable variation across yards and lots. In Roma and Dalby, yardings of yearling feeder steers remained relatively stable week-on-week, although the combined feeder steer price in these markets rose 8¢ to finish at 332¢/kg lwt, suggesting that demand from feeder buyers improved week-on-week in these markets.  

Conversely, in NSW there were several saleyards where numbers of relatively light yearling steers were transacted at a discount to the average, which affected the performance of the indicator overall.

Sheep and lambs

The market was mixed this week, as mutton and heavier lamb prices eased, while young lamb prices rose as some new season lambs began entering saleyards.

Yardings rose by 5% week-on-week to 222,784 head, mostly due to a 10,473 uplift in lamb yardings to 167,675 head. Yardings declined by 4,981 to 9,078 head in Western Australia but rose in small amounts across the east coast.

The trade lamb indicator eased by 16¢ to end the week at 472¢/kg cwt. In Wagga, prices declined 45¢ as buyer interest was constrained and old trade lambs attracted substantial discounts, though the indicator remained above the national average at 510¢/kg cwt.  

In contrast to the trade lamb and mutton indicators, the restocker lamb indicator jumped 81¢ to 352¢/kg cwt. However, this was a small component of the market overall, restocker lamb yardings fell by 6,119 to 12,460 head, making up only 7% of total lamb yardings.   


Sheep and lamb slaughter remained high this week at a combined 577,323 head, 38,235 head higher week-on-week and the highest August week on record. This was mostly due to increased lamb slaughter, which rose by 36,663 to 444,479 head, while sheep slaughter only rose by 1,572 to 132,844 head.

Cattle slaughter for the week was 121,713, up 639 head from the last week and the largest weekly slaughter figure in August since 2019. Slaughter in Queensland has been above 60,000 head for the past 13 weeks, while it did not exceed 60,000 head in any week in 2022.