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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

03 November 2023

Key points:

  • The processor cow indicator lifted 9¢ to 166¢/kg lwt.
  • Cow and restocker prices are now above month-ago levels.
  • Lamb and sheep slaughter hit 653,985 head, the highest figure of the year.


Markets lifted slightly this week off the back of slightly lower yardings and improved competition in sales but remained mostly unchanged from previous weeks. Yardings eased by 4,771 to 43,012 head, slightly below the four-week average but almost identical for the average for 2023.

The processor cow indicator lifted by 9¢ to 166¢/kg live weight (lwt), however this was not consistent, with considerable variation between sales. Patchy export buying at Wodonga meant prices eased 9¢ from last week’s sale, while in Mortlake prices held firm, lifting 1¢. In NSW, processor cow prices lifted at every sale except Forbes, while in Queensland prices eased at Roma but lifted at Dalby.  

For the past few weeks, cattle prices have followed a relatively flat-to-lifting trend, which stands in contrast to the constant easing earlier in the year. Comparing prices from a month ago to now, steer prices have eased slightly, while restockers and cows have improved.

Sheep and lamb

The market continued the varied trend of the past few weeks, as heavier lamb and mutton prices improved, while other categories held firm or eased. 

Combined yardings fell by 32,805 to 287,299 head. Most of the decline came from a 30,134 fall in lamb yardings to 215,235 head, while sheep yardings fell by 2,581 to 72,064 head.

The restocker lamb indicator lifted 13¢ over the week to 339¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Prices lifted in South Australia and NSW, while easing in Victoria and Western Australia. At Narracorte, a slightly smaller yarding alongside a strong showing of new season lambs led to a 10¢ lift in prices from the previous week, while relatively slow bidding at Bendigo eased prices.  

National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) market reports continue to note a preference for heavier lambs, predominantly among processors where competition for well finished lambs can outpace the rest of the market, especially where conditions are dryer and finish is variable.


Week ending 27 October 2023

Cattle slaughter fell 2,377 to 130,044 head. The largest fall was in Queensland, where slaughter was down 2,001 to 67,055 head. Slaughter was also down in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, while it lifted slightly in NSW and South Australia.

Lamb slaughter lifted by 56,273 to 478,534 head, while sheep slaughter lifted by 21,933 to 175,451 head. Overall, slaughter largely held firm in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, falling by a total of 353 head between them, while lifting in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria. Taken together, the combined slaughter figures of 653,985 head is the equal-largest weekly slaughter figure this year, alongside the last week of September.