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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

05 July 2024

Key points:

  • Strong processor demand for finished cattle strengthened the cattle market.
  • Sheep prices lifted between 17¢ and 56¢ this week due to a tightening of supply across all states.
  • Camperdown and Pakenham, both located in Victoria, held their last sales this week. Both saleyards are now closed.

Cattle market

The cattle market was positive this week, with all national indicators lifting. The lifts were supply-driven, as yardings eased by 10,095 to 45,044 head.

The National Processor Cow Indicator was the best performer, lifting 28¢ to 244¢/kg liveweight (lwt). NSW and Victoria supported the price, with some cows fetching as high as 300¢/kg lwt through the yards. Demand from processors drove the price through Queensland, with most cows at Dalby being sold to southern states.

Processor demand for finished cattle has supported the lift in heavy steer prices over the last two weeks. Heavy steers lifted 9¢ to 307¢/kg/lwt. Competition for quality-conditioned cattle increased the general market. Victoria came in with the highest indicator prices for heavy steers, sitting 15¢ above the national price, driven by constricted supply through saleyards.

Sheep market

Similarly, the sheep market turned positive across the board as all national indicators lifted between 17¢ and 56¢ week-on-week. Individually, the large sheep trading states NSW, Victoria, and WA saw increased prices across all indicators. Supply was the biggest driver of these prices. Sheep and lamb yardings eased this week, with a 15% reduction of sheep through saleyards to 71,866 and a 17% reduction in lamb yardings to 180,870 head.

The Light Lamb Indicator lifted 50¢ to 657¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), despite being the least impacted by throughput. There has been a return in competition in the heavy and trade lamb markets, which has lifted prices to early 2023 levels, and has increased light lamb demand as processors work to fill space during periods of reduced supply. 

After low yardings in earlier Victorian sales, demand from Victorian domestic and export buyers through NSW buoyed prices, with over 80% of Wagga Wagga lambs claimed by buyers from Victoria. The final sheep sale of the week was the most profitable as Wagga light lamb prices landed 76¢ above the national price.

Regular seasonal impacts are in play as mutton yardings more than halved. Only 38,380 head were pushed through saleyards, causing a 47¢ lift in indicator pricing to 386¢/kg cwt.


Week ending 28 June 2024

Weekly cattle slaughter lifted across most states last week, increasing national throughput by 1,315 head to 143,705. Once again, processors have reached numbers not seen since January 2020. There was very little movement across states, with the biggest week-on-week change in Queensland. The state processed 882 head more than the previous week, making its throughput 74,620. NSW lifted by 323 to just under 35,000 head, while SA (3,565), Tasmania (5,029), and WA (2,967) numbers moved by less than 200 head. Victoria was the only state to reduce throughput by only 269 head, keeping numbers well above long-term trends at 22,529 head. Year-to-date, slaughter remains 16% higher than last year, at 3,208,266 head.

Combined sheep and lamb slaughter eased this week, down 38,839 from the week prior to 645,912, though still well above long-term averages and tracking 20% higher than the 2023 year-to-date figures.

After the previous week's record throughput, lamb slaughter eased by 26,293 to 484,809 head, though it remained well above long-term averages. All states followed suit, with the biggest changes seen in NSW (122,524), Victoria (241,787) and WA (48,155), easing by between 4,000–12,000 head, while numbers remained relatively stable in Queensland (1,427), SA (61,155) and Tasmania (9,710). Sheep slaughter eased 12,546 head to 161,103, driven by a nearly 50% sheep slaughter decrease in WA for 12,657 head. Plant closures will start to impact National Livestock Reporting System (NLRS) slaughter numbers as processors go into scheduled maintenance closures. NSW was the only state to lift in sheep throughput by 2,030 to 79,809 head.

Note on saleyard closures:

  • Camperdown and Pakenham, both located in Victoria, held their last sales this week. Both saleyards are now closed.