Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap
27 October 2023
- The heavy steer indicator lifted by 4¢.
- Lamb and sheep prices generally eased.
- Lamb yardings lifted by 73,888 to 237,969 head.
The cattle market was varied this week, as prices diverged based on category and location. In general, prices in Victoria and NSW held firm or improved, while prices in Queensland, South Australia and WA eased.
Cattle yardings fell by 3,753 to 43,490 head. Numbers at several larger sales in NSW and Queensland were well below week-ago levels, while some fortnightly sales did not run.
Heavy steer prices lifted by 4¢ to end the week at 205¢/kg live weight (lwt), off the back of reasonably active processor bidding and improved condition from last week.
By contrast, the feeder steer indicator eased by 2¢ to end the week at 204¢/kg lwt. Prices lifted by 4¢ in NSW but fell by 8¢ in Queensland, as dry conditions in Queensland continue to impact buyer demand and feeder steer condition, while central and southern NSW have been less affected as those regions have seen some rainfall, albeit sporadic.
Sheep and lambs:
The sheep market generally eased this week, with larger yardings and mixed animal conditions contributing to price declines.
Total yardings lifted by 82,095 to 309,714 head. Most of this came from a 73,888 increase in lamb yardings to 237,969 head and made this week the largest week for lamb yardings so far this year.
The restocker lamb indicator eased 34¢ over the week to end at 327¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). A large yarding at Naracoorte made up the largest contribution to the indicator, and restocker lamb prices rose 41¢ compared to the previous sale a fortnight ago, but the trend was negative in NSW and Victorian saleyards. In Wagga, a 35% increase in restocker lamb numbers was matched with a 124¢ fall in price to 336¢/kg cwt, with varying conditions affecting bidding.
The exception to general price easing was the heavy lamb indicator, which held steady at 507¢/kg cwt. A general trend has been evident in the market over the past several months in favour of heavier, well-conditioned lambs over lighter lambs or lambs lacking finish. This trend was again evident this week, with several NLRS market reports noting the preference for finish and condition, especially among export buyers.
Numbers continued to rise this week, with cattle slaughter reaching 132,421 head, the highest figure this year and the largest weekly slaughter figure since May 2020. Increases were seen in every state except South Australia, where numbers dipped 728 to 3,342 head.
Combined lamb and sheep slaughter fell by 10,371 to 575,779 head. This was due to a 28,338 decline in lamb slaughter to 422,261 head, while sheep slaughter lifted by 18,017 to 153,518 head.