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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

24 May 2024

Key points:

  • Restocker cattle prices lifted while heavier cattle eased slightly.
  • Mutton prices continued to rally.
  • Lamb slaughter broke another weekly record and cattle slaughter had the highest figure in four years.


The cattle market was mixed this week, with younger animals generally overperforming relative to the more finished end of the market.

Yardings lifted by 8,863 to 64,314 head over the week. The largest increase came at Roma, where yardings lifted by 3,828 to 8,712 head, while the largest decrease was seen at Blackall, where numbers fell by 1,141 to 933 head.  

The National Young Cattle Indicator (NYCI) lifted almost 3¢ this week to 327¢/kg liveweight (lwt). The indicator was strongest in Queensland, lifting 6¢ over the week off the back of a quality showing of weaners in Roma and a lift in online yearling heifer prices. Prices in NSW saleyards generally eased, though there was not a clear trend; prices in Gunnedah eased 32¢ while the indicator lifted 24¢ in Dubbo.

The finished end of the market underperformed relative to restockers. The Processor Cow Indicator eased by 13¢ over the week to 216¢/kg lwt. Prices were down in most sales, with Wagga Wagga the exception as well-presented cows and enthusiastic bidding drove prices according to NLRS market reporting. 


Lamb and sheep prices were mixed this week, with prices rising among heavier lambs and mutton while easing among light lambs and restockers.

Lamb yardings rose by 16,467 to 180,847 head, while sheep yardings rose by 3,796 to 97,907 head. Combined sheep and lamb yardings reached 278,754 head, which was the largest figure seen since late April.

The Trade Lamb Indicator rose by 29¢ over the week to 677¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Prices rose across the east coast, with prices rising alongside a 10% increase in indicator throughput. In SA, the indicator dipped 8¢ over the week, with NLRS reports referencing slightly plainer quality at SA Livestock Exchange, affecting buyer demand. Notably, the strong lift in the Trade Lamb Indicator placed it above the Heavy Lamb Indicator for the first time this year, albeit only by 1¢.

The Mutton Indicator rose 7¢ over the week to 311¢/kg cwt. Notably, prices in WA lifted 37¢ to 173¢/kg cwt, the highest mutton price in the state since August 2023. At Katanning, processor demand drove the price from 100¢ to 140¢, with firmer pricing generally seen alongside heavier weights.

Slaughter (week ending 17 May)

Cattle slaughter rose by 9,155 to 138,200 head. This is the highest weekly slaughter figure in over four years and was primarily driven by a 9,821 head increase in Queensland slaughter, with numbers recovering after a relatively slow week during Beef Australia.

Lamb slaughter lifted by 3,788 to 509,499 head, while sheep slaughter rose by 580 to 188,832 head. Lamb slaughter was the highest on record, maintaining the trend of record-breaking results in lamb production seen so far in 2024. Victorian lamb slaughter lifted by 3,217 to 248,744 head, while NSW slaughter lifted 1,816 head to 129,125.