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Cattle and sheep weekly market wrap

15 December 2023

Key points:

  • The restocker yearling steer indicator eased by 24¢ to 310¢/kg lwt.
  • The heavy lamb indicator lifted by 52¢ to 678¢/kg cwt.
  • Cattle yardings were 77,881 head, the second largest of the year.


The cattle market eased this week, with the nearing Christmas shutdowns causing a slight dip in the number of buyers and processors attending sales compared to the previous week. Cattle yardings fell by 20,615 to 77,881 head, but despite the significant week-on-week drop, this was the second largest week of the year in terms of yardings.

The restocker yearling steer indicator eased by 24¢ to 310¢/kg liveweight (lwt). Prices eased across all states, due to a significant increase in yardings providing a similar increase in choice. Other indicators followed a broadly similar trend, although the rate of decline was varied. The processor cow indicator was the week’s best performing, easing 13¢ to 204¢/kg lwt.

Despite the week’s easing conditions, prices remained well above recent October lows and well-finished cattle continued to command a considerable premium.

Sheep and lambs

The market for lambs was generally strong over the week.

Yardings lifted by 23,109 to 470,177 head, the largest weekly figure since November 2019. In particular, lamb yardings were well above their usual December peaks, lifting 47,311 from the previous week to 341,579 head – the highest weekly performance since November 2017.

The heavy lamb indicator lifted 52¢ over the week to 678¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). At CVLX Ballarat, quality lines attracted strong bidding and prices lifted 96¢ to 745¢/kg cwt, the highest price seen in that market since April. Despite a quality yarding, Wagga prices eased 69¢ from last week to 467¢/kg cwt, with bids slowing among heavy lambs for export due to impending seasonal plant shutdowns. Outside of Wagga, every sale saw heavy lamb prices increase.


Week ending 8 December

Cattle slaughter eased during the week, dipping by 3,063 to 120,887 head, representing a 2% decline.

In a mixed week, Queensland, NSW and South Australia slaughter eased by a combined 3,570 head, while slaughter in other states rose marginally over the period.

Combined lamb and sheep slaughter lifted by 768 to 673,406 head. Lamb slaughter rose by 15,956 to 482,373 head, and sheep slaughter fell by 15,188 to 191,033 head. NSW lamb slaughter rose by 18,508 to 120,979, an 18% lift on the previous week.