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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

18 August 2023

Key points:

  • Yardings held firm in the cattle market and tightened slightly in the sheep market.
  • Indicators generally eased over the week, with condition and finish continuing to be varied.
  • The ABS has released its quarterly slaughter and production statistics.


Yardings held firm this week at 51,712 head, 0.5% below last week. NSW yardings were 2,048 lower than the week before at 23,097, while yardings in Queensland rose by 1,464 to 19,137 head and yardings in Victoria, SA, WA and Tasmania were relatively flat.

While there was rain in southern Australia, conditions have been dry in Queensland over the week except for small amounts along the coast between Townsville and Cairns.

Prices generally eased over the week. Queensland remained firmer than the rest of the country, but still tightened. The feeder steer indicator eased 8¢ to 307¢/kg live weight (lwt), while in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA the indicator eased 14¢ to 299¢/kg lwt.

Lambs and sheep

Total yardings tightened this week in lambs to 159,303 and rose in sheep to 59,620 for a total yarding of 218,923 head.

Finish and condition continue to be varied, though in several markets the number of well-finished lines improved and increases in the number of new season lambs on offer was noted in several reports.

Indicators generally eased, with the heavy lamb indicator tightening by 6¢ to 466¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) Bucking the trend was the mutton indicator, as a large showing of well-presented Merino ewes in Wagga contributed to a 5¢ increase in the indicator week-on-week to finish at 246¢/kg cwt.

Weekly slaughter

Cattle slaughter rose by 1,482 head week-on-week to 123,195 head. This was primarily due to a 2,483 head increase in cattle slaughter in WA, the highest weekly figure in WA since early February.

Lamb and sheep slaughter rose to 5,959 head week-on-week to 583,282 head. This was due to increased sheep numbers, which rose by 28,903 to 161,747 head. Lamb slaughter fell by 22,944 to 421,535 head, as decreases in Victoria (-10,818), NSW (-23,057) and SA (-30,110) were partially compensated by a 34,958 increase in WA.

ABS data release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released their quarterly livestock slaughter and production data for April-June 2023. The data shows the cattle herd entered a technical destock for the quarter with a female slaughter rate (FSR) of 48%, though the annualized FSR is at 44.2%, suggesting the herd remains in expansion.