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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

13 October 2023

Key points:

  • Cattle and sheep yardings lifted after disruptions last week.
  • Feeder steer indicator fell 13¢ to 205¢/kg.
  • Lamb prices eased but remain above month-ago levels.


Cattle yardings lifted by 8,243 from last week to 34,299 head, as several sales in NSW and Queensland that did not run in the previous week due to public holidays ran this week.  

The processor cow indicator lifted by 13¢ to 155¢/kg live weight (lwt). This was in part due to the inclusion of the Wagga sale in the indicator, which did not run in the previous week. Making up 18% of throughput, processor cows at Wagga sold at 8¢ above the national average, which pulled up the indicator overall.

Processor cow prices lifted more generally, with processor cows increasing in value in every state bar South Australia, where slightly higher throughput and slow bidding saw the indicator ease slightly. 

Steer prices fell, with the feeder steer indicator easing 13¢ over the week to 205¢/kg lwt and the heavy steer indicator easing 11¢ to 220¢/kg lwt. National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) market reports noted a growing gap between quality lines and plainer cattle, and the heavy steer indicator is now 15¢ more expensive than the feeder steer indicator, the largest heavy steer premium seen since October 2019.  

Sheep and lambs


Lamb yardings lifted substantially from last week – by 32,851 head – while sheep yardings lifted by 41,018 to 97,563 head. Wagga yardings lifted 23,500 from the previous week to 69,500 head, for the largest yarding since March and the largest sheep yarding since December 2022.

Lamb indicator prices eased moderately this week, but not by enough to erase the price rises seen the week before. The heavy lamb indicator fell by 9¢ to 484¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) as NSW heavy lamb prices eased. Every sale in NSW saw price reductions in heavy lambs, while the indicator in Victoria actually rose by 2¢ over the week to 484¢/kg cwt.

Despite the price falls this week, all the lamb and sheep indicators remain above month-ago levels, as the easing was relatively limited compared to the considerable price uplift seen the week before.  


Week ending 06/10

As expected, overall slaughter was down last week as public holidays reduced the number of operating days in several key states.

Cattle slaughter was down 11% week-on-week to 111,125 head, the smallest kill since early May. Public holidays had a clear impact. NSW slaughter fell 10% to 27,862 head, Queensland slaughter fell by 19% to 54,925 head and South Australian slaughter fell 16% to 3,388 head, while slaughter in Victoria and Western Australia rose.

Sheep and lamb slaughter also eased. Lamb slaughter fell by 11,121 to 415,357 head, while sheep slaughter fell by 16,180 to 134,698 head. A notable exception to the general trend was Victorian lamb slaughter, which rose by 35,303 to 232,174 head, the weekly figure on record.

Sheep producer intentions survey

The October Sheep Producer Intentions Survey is currently running.It is an important source of information for industry on a range of important topics. The data collected by MLA is intended to replace Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reporting of categorical sheep flock numbers, which ceased in January 2023.

To complete the survey, click here