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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

07 June 2024

Key points:

  • The Merino lamb yardings eased and prices lifted by 70¢.
  • The Processor Cow Indicator continues to rally.
  • Largest weekly cattle slaughter in four years and sheep and lamb slaughter just below 700,000 head for the fifth consecutive week.


The cattle market has been generally positive barring the Restocker Yearling Steer Indicator. Yardings have eased by 21,142 head (a 30% reduction) to end the week at 49,996 head.

The Processor Cow Indicator lifted by 18¢ to 221¢/kg liveweight (lwt). Prices lifted in all states except for Tasmania. Although cow numbers declined, they sold to a stronger trend. At Wagga, not all processors were actively bidding to acquire cows across all categories, due to a backlog at processors.

The Heavy Steer Indicator lifted by 6¢ to 300¢/kg lwt and yardings eased to 1,327 head. Prices lifted in all states except Queensland where we saw an ease of 6¢. At Carcoar, quality was above average with lightweight cattle suitable for feeder and restockers penned. Prices at Wagga were 18¢ higher with Pakenham following the same trend.  


The sheep market has seen significant lifts in price for all indicators. Yardings have eased for both sheep and lambs by 20% and 17% respectively, totalling 49,762 to 230,068 head.

The Restocker Lamb Indicator lifted by 70¢ to 603¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Prices eased in NSW by 11¢ to 646¢/kg cwt, contributing to 50% of the indicator. Despite this, prices rose in other key sheep-producing states. At Ballarat, bidding was reported as intense for animals with good fat cover and finish. Notably, quality was mixed at Bendigo, with plainer animals and smaller lots.  

The Merino Lamb Indicator lifted by 58¢ to 555¢/kg cwt and yardings eased by 698 to 12,681 head. The largest price increase was seen in NSW, with a 71¢ increase to 591¢ /kg cwt. This increase was largely driven by Wagga and Forbes. At Forbes, reports indicate there was a higher throughput of Merino lambs. Wagga noted that there was an elevation of prices to premium levels on Merino lambs.


Cattle slaughter has lifted for the third consecutive week by 2,877 to 142,162 head. This lift is the largest weekly slaughter in four years. NSW slaughter lifted by 2,533 to 34,853 head while Queensland slaughter eased slightly by 139 head to 74,765 head. This week Queensland and NSW had the second largest weekly slaughter, with Victoria having the largest weekly slaughter.

Combined sheep and lamb slaughter eased by 6,303 to 690,377 head. This was largely due to a reduction in lamb slaughter by 8,503 to 500,016 head. Despite the slight reduction in lamb slaughter, it remains above half a million head for the fifth week in a row. This marks it as the sixth largest weekly slaughter on record. Tasmanian and Victorian lamb slaughter eased by 2,514 and 9,126 head respectively.

Sheep slaughter rose by 2,200 to 190,361 head. Dips have been seen in sheep slaughter in NSW, Victoria and WA, with lifts in Queensland, SA and Tasmania. Slaughter in NSW eased by 5,962 to 76,573 head while Victorian slaughter lifted by 5,856 to 59,745 head. After record processing numbers in Victoria last week, it marks the second largest processing week for both sheep and lambs.