Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap
25 August 2023
- Cattle and sheep yardings eased from last week
- Lamb indicators rose slightly
- Feeder cattle extend a premium over restockers.
Cattle eased by 8,231 head from last week to 43,481 head, as yardings fell in all states except Tasmania. Yardings were up in most saleyards across Queensland as dry conditions persist, but falls in yardings at Charters Towers and Warwick, alongside the absence of the monthly Blackall sale this week, pushed yardings down overall. Outside of Queensland, numbers generally drifted down slightly from last week for the smallest weekly yardings volume in seven weeks. Recent market performance may have contributed to producers choosing to hold back stock.
Cattle prices generally eased over the week, though feeder and processor-weight cattle fared better than restocker cattle, as has been the trend for 2023 so far. The feeder steer indicator eased by 4¢ over the week to 299¢/kg liveweight (lwt), while the restocker steer indicator eased by 24¢ over the week to 282¢/kg lwt. That means the feeder steer indicator sat at a 16¢ premium compared to the restocker steer indicator, the largest premium since January 2020. The Market Information team has forecast feeder steer prices to command a premium to restockers twice this year, in March and June (read more: Feeder prices operate at a premium to restockers).
Lamb yardings dipped by 9% from last week to 149,387 head, the smallest yarding in six weeks. This was partly due to normal variation; Cootamundra, Deniliquin, Griffith, Guyra and Inverell in NSW run fortnightly and were not included in this week’s total, pushing numbers down.
NLRS market reports have suggested that the fall in yardings was accompanied by an increase in quality, borne out of rising indicator values. Yardings of lambs that match the heavy lamb indicator spec fell by 17,688 head to 20,658, while the indicator rose 10¢ from last week to 473¢/kg carcase weight (cwt).
However, considerable variation occurred across saleyards, as the heavy lamb in Dubbo rose by 26¢ to 500¢/kg cwt and eased in Bendigo by 3¢ to 465¢/kg cwt. Variations in finish week-to-week and between saleyards continue to impact price, leading to substantial variations in indicator values between regions and saleyards.
Cattle slaughter eased by 4% week-on-week to 118,089 head, the smallest figure in six weeks. This is still well above year-ago levels – 118,089 head is 23% above the weekly average for August 2022 and points to strong growth in cattle slaughter this year.
Lamb slaughter rose by 15,296 to 436,831 head, while sheep slaughter fell by 27,120 to 134,627 head. This week’s lamb slaughter is the second highest August slaughter figure on record and the fourth largest week so far this year.