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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

31 May 2024

Key points:

  • Five major beef processors have regained access to China, overturning a ban that has been in place in 2020.
  • Mixed cattle market with the lowest performer the Restocker Yearling Heifer Indicator at 249¢/kg lwt.
  • Victoria had their largest lamb processing week on record, processing 50% of the total lamb slaughter.


The cattle market saw mixed numbers this week, some of which were poor. Yardings eased by 5,774 head (8%) to 63,300 head.

The Restocker Yearling Heifer Indicator was the lowest performer on Thursday, easing 20¢ to 249¢/kg lwt. Yardings lifted week-on-week by 795 head, with several weaner sales pushing Queensland throughput to just under 80% of the indicator. Yass, Tamworth and Bairnsdale store sales on Friday should lift these yarding proportions as restockers place their cattle through the store market. The Blackall weaner sale was met with high quality, though mixed quality in other Queensland yards meant markets could not match last week’s prices.

The Processor Cow Indicator eased again, falling 15¢ to 203¢/kg lwt. The quality cow prices seen in Roma were not seen further north, with Charters Towers 16¢ below the national indicator.


The sheep market was relatively positive, with rewards for heavier animals. All national indicators lifted bar Mutton and Restocker Lamb, which fell by 4¢ and 12¢ to 306¢/kg cwt and 534¢/kg lwt, respectively.

After high throughput last week, total yardings eased by 20,000 head this week to 270,930. Lamb yardings eased by 2% (3,905 head) to 184,642, and sheep yardings dropped 16% (16,000 head) to 86,288.

The National Mutton Indicator has dipped for the first time in five weeks, easing by 12¢ to 306¢/kg cwt. NSW was the highest performer in this indicator at 321¢/kg cwt. This was driven by positive light and trade lamb sales at Wagga, fetching 344¢/kg cwt. As we enter lambing season, mutton supply has started to pull back across most eastern saleyards. WA yardings, which have lifted week-on-week along with prices, was up 10% on last week and just under 80% on last month at 177¢/kg cwt.

This week, the Heavy Lamb Indicator lifted in both price and yardings to 697¢/kg cwt. Across all states, market lifts were seen, the largest in Victoria, where size and quality were rewarded, rising by nearly 30¢ to 706¢/kg lwt. The 22–28kg bracket produced the most competition across domestic and export buyers, with prices continuing to lift week-on-week.


A positive announcement on 30 May saw five major beef processors regain access to China, overturning a ban that has been in place since 2020. The five plants to have export approvals reinstated are; Queensland’s Kilcoy Global Foods, Meramist, JBS Dinmore, JBS Beef City and NSW’s Casino Food.

Cattle slaughter rose again this week (ending 24 May), lifting by 1,085 head to 139,285. This lift resulted in, once again, the largest slaughter in four years. Both Queensland and Victoria clocked their largest weekly slaughter numbers since 2020, processing 74,904 and 20,805 head, respectively.

Despite a small 908 head reduction, national lamb slaughter remained above the half-a-million point for the fourth week, with 508,519 head processed over the week. This marks the second largest slaughter on record. NSW and SA contributed to a small national dip in numbers, however there was an increase in numbers for Tasmania, Victoria and WA.  Victoria had their largest lamb processing week on record processing 255,849 head, 50% of the total lamb slaughter.

There was a decrease of 671 head for sheep slaughter, with 188,161 head processed over the week. Dips were seen across all states bar NSW, which lifted by just under 2,000 head to a total of 82,535. Looking at combined sheepmeat processing, national numbers were just under the long-term high of last week, easing by under 2,000 head. Victoria had their highest sheepmeat processing week on record for a combined total of 309,738 head.