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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

29 September 2023

Key points:

  • Victorian lamb slaughter highest on record
  • Cattle prices continue to ease
  • Lamb and sheep markets remain mixed.


Yardings lifted by 5,750 to 50,608 head. Yardings rose in every mainland state except South Australia, while the largest decline in yardings was at Leongatha saleyard, where numbers fell from 1,330 head the previous week to 350.  

Saleyard cattle prices trended down this week, with relatively consistent price movements between states and indicators. The feeder steer indicator eased 13¢ over the week to 222¢/kg liveweight (lwt), as plainer cattle were presented in several sales and feedlot buyer demand was relatively weak. Other indicators were broadly in line with this trend. The best performing indicator for the week was the restocker yearling heifer, easing 10¢ to 145¢/kg lwt, while the dairy cow indicator eased 32¢/kg to 106¢/kg lwt.   


Total lamb and sheep yardings lifted by 26,954 to 256,800 head. Lamb and sheep yardings both lifted, as fortnightly sales that did not run last week were included in the numbers this week.  

Lamb and sheep indicators were mixed this week. The mutton indicator dipped below 100¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) on Tuesday and Wednesday before a strong sale at Wagga on Thursday lifted the indicator to 106¢/kg cwt, 2¢ above the previous week. By contrast, the light lamb indicator eased by 25¢ over the week to 277¢/kg cwt.   

Over the past four weeks prices have diverged substantially between indicators. The heavy and trade lambs have moved sideways, the heavy lamb indicator has eased 1.8¢ over the month, while the trade lamb has eased 0.1¢. By comparison, the Merino lamb and mutton indicators have fallen considerably, with the Merino lamb indicator easing by 61¢ over the month and the mutton indicator easing 83¢, which constitutes a 43% decline in the indicator’s value over the month.   


Week ending 22/09/2023 

Weekly slaughter lifted slightly, by 750 to 127,335 head, as strong increases in NSW and South Australia balanced falling slaughter numbers in Queensland. 

Sheep slaughter fell by 1,673 to 160,165 head, while lamb slaughter rose by 28,075 to 447,022 head, the highest weekly figure since 2016. This was largely due to a 28,258 increase in Victorian slaughter to 229,037 head, the highest weekly Victorian lamb slaughter figure in NLRS records.  

Market updates: 

The October wave of the Sheep Producer Intention Survey will be launched on Monday 2 October. To complete the survey, click here.  

Monday 25 September was a public holiday in Western Australia, Friday 29 September was a public holiday in Victoria, while Monday 2 October is a public holiday in NSW, South Australia and Queensland. This means that several sales will not report on those days, which may impact indicator performance.