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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

05 April 2024

Key points:

  • More rainfall in Northern Queensland has lifted the Restocker Yearling Heifer indicator by 24¢ to 261¢/kg lwt.
  • The Restocker Lamb indicator lifted by 119¢ to 604¢/kg cwt, indicating improved confidence.
  • Combined sheep and lamb slaughter is steady for 2024 regardless of the easter break and weather considerations.


The cattle market has shown signs of improvement across various indicators. Following the Easter break and bolstered by strong rainfall, yardings increased by 1,688 to reach 23,704 head – however, this is still a 61% drop from two weeks ago. Queensland witnessed the largest reduction in yardings, declining by 1019 to 5,869 head. 

The Heavy Steer indicator lifted by 1¢ to 304¢/kg liveweight (lwt). This can be attributed to the scarcity of heavier animals coupled with favourable rainfall patterns along the eastern seaboard, which have collectively driven prices upward. Conversely, the Feeder Steer indicator experienced a slight dip of 3¢ to 319¢/kg lwt this week, mainly due to a decrease in quality feeder-ready cattle and the absence of lot feeders at saleyards. Nevertheless, heavier cattle continue to command a premium over lighter animals.

The Restocker Yearling Heifer indicator lifted had a notable increase of 28¢ to 265¢/kg lwt, buoyed by increased rainfall in Northern Queensland, which has boosted confidence among producers and consequently led to a rise in prices by 30¢ to 260¢/kg lwt. Notably, heifers sold to feedlots and restockers observed the most significant price gains.


Following the Easter break, the sheep market kicked off on a stronger note. Yardings during the Easter period surged by 19% to 181,967 head, with lamb yardings witnessing a notable increase of 35,489 to 143,749 head. Yardings are expected to ease over the Easter break as saleyards were closed.

The Restocker Lamb Indicator exhibited a significant increase of 119¢, reaching 604¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). This surge can be attributed to the recent rainfall experienced in NSW and Victoria, instilling confidence among producers and resulting in a 6% uptick in prices compared to same time last year. Similarly, the Light Lamb indicator rose by 34¢ to 595¢/kg cwt, reflecting a similar trend.

The Mutton indicator also witnessed an upward movement, rising by 40¢ to 284¢/kg cwt. This increase was fuelled by the anticipation of wet weather and active participation from buyers, particularly in regions where heavy sheep were present. Notably, prices in NSW experienced a significant uplift, rising by 41¢ to 309¢/kg cwt, with Wagga contributing the most at 36%.


Week ending 29 March 2024

Cattle slaughter experience a notable decrease of 30,808, totalling 105,695 head. Queensland witnessed a 40% reduction in slaughter, amounting to 55,280 head. Despite this decline, slaughter rates remain considerably higher, tracking 27% and 40% above the 2022 and 2023 slaughter figures respectively, signalling a positive outlook for the industry following a period of elevated slaughter.

Combined lamb and sheep slaughter decreased by 87,001 to 600,771 head, driven primarily by a significant drop in lamb slaughter by 80%. NSW sheep slaughter also witnessed a decline of 13,220 to 66,159 head, mirroring similar trends in lamb slaughter. Despite the Easter break and weather considerations, combined slaughter rates for 2024 remain steady.

Beef Producers Intentions Survey

The April Beef Producers Intentions Survey (BPIS) is primarily focused on surveying southern and northern grassfed producers regarding calving and stocking intentions. Click here for the April survey