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

23 February 2024

Key points:

  • The restock yearling heifer indicator eased by 9c to 274c/kg lwt.
  • The heavy lamb indicator lifted by 2c to 651c/kg cwt.
  • Cattle slaughter has lifted by 22,580 to 125,184 head.


The cattle market experienced a general easing across most indicators this week. Yardings decreased by 40,673 to 50,731 head. The heavy steer indicator remained stable at 283¢/kg live weight (lwt), with throughput easing by 484 head to 2,333 head. The dairy cow indicator was the only other cattle indicator to improve this week – rising 6%.

The restock yearling heifer indicator dipped by 9¢ to 274¢/kg lwt. Notably, Queensland drove prices, contributing 77% to the indicator. At Dalby, well-bred yearling heifers were in demand, fetching prices 23¢ above the national price. Buyers were more selective about purchases, focusing on quality.


The sheep market witnessed mixed trends in prices this week. Combined sheep and lamb yardings eased by 110,783 to 229,193 head.

The heavy lamb indicator saw a slight increase of 2¢ to 651¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). In New South Wales, prices surpassed the national average by 7¢, driven by key saleyards where prices were higher. As prices eased, plainer quality lambs became more abundant, resulting in fewer heavier lambs available.

The light lamb indicator increased by 7¢ to 559¢/kg cwt. Victorian prices experienced a 4¢ dip, although Ballarat, Bendigo and Hamilton observed prices approximately 60¢ above the national average. Market reports suggest that the decline in light lamb prices was due to buyer preferences shifting towards well-finished light lambs.


Week ending 16 February 2024

Cattle slaughter increased by 22,580 to 125,184 head, marking a 22% rise from the previous week. Queensland had a significant increase in slaughter, rising by 19,161 to 63,397 head, while NSW slaughter increased by 1,194 to 33,972 head. Slaughter remains notably higher than 2022 and 2023 levels.

Combined sheep and lamb slaughter decreased by 44,849 to 661,128 head. Victorian slaughter contributed 43% to the weekly total. Lamb and sheep slaughter in Victoria decreased by 14%, equivalent to 89,582 head. NSW saw a slight increase in slaughter by 4,339 to 204,658, representing a 2% rise from the previous week.