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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

08 September 2023

Key points:

  • Yardings eased for cattle, lambs and sheep
  • The heavy steer indicator is now at a premium to the feeder steer indicator
  • Lamb prices generally eased, but the trade lamb indicator lifted 7¢ to 440¢/kg cwt.


Cattle yardings were their lowest in nine weeks this week, tightening by 11,108 to 38,150 head. Yardings in NSW and Victoria eased marginally due to fortnightly sales not running this week, while yardings in Queensland tightened by 10,778 head. Numbers in Queensland eased in every sale, with sales an average of 29% smaller than the week before.

The cattle market was mixed, with heavy steers and cows rising, while lighter steer prices eased. Average weights were higher for the week, and market reports noted that condition and finish often determined the speed and competition of bidding, especially among export buyers and processors.

The heavy steer indicator lifted by 14¢ over the week to 268¢/kg liveweight (lwt), as smaller yardings were met with interest from export buyers in several saleyards across southern states.

The feeder steer indicator eased by 12¢/kg lwt to 262¢/kg lwt, meaning that the heavy steer indicator is at a premium to the feeder steer for the first time since 2019.


Lamb numbers tightened by 54,182 to 153,352 head from last week, while sheep yardings eased by 3,359 head to 65,414 head.

The market generally eased, though the trade lamb indicator did rise by 7¢ to 440¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Slightly lower indicator throughput came alongside a slight shift in the indicator composition, making the average weight of lambs heavier in the indicator. This contributed to the strength of the indicator, as prices for heavier lambs were generally firmer than among plainer and lighter lambs and sheep throughout the week.

The mutton indicator eased by 51¢ to 137¢/kg cwt over the week. Large sheep yardings in Dubbo and Forbes met considerable price softening, while tighter numbers in Wagga saw mutton prices easing by less than average.


Cattle slaughter lifted by 4,327 to 127,337 head, the highest single-week slaughter figure since May 2020. Slaughter was up in every state, with the most significant increases in Queensland and Tasmania. In Tasmania, slaughter rose by 35% to 6,014 head, the highest on record.

Lamb slaughter eased by 4,548 to 443,639 head, while sheep slaughter lifted by 5,161 to 152,196 head. In total, sheep and lamb slaughter was 595,835 head, 523 higher than last week and the highest combined slaughter figure since May.


In August, beef exports lifted by 11% from last year to 102,352 tonnes, mutton exports lifted by 29% to 15,856 tonnes and lamb exports rose by 21% from last year to 31,779 tonnes, the highest figure on record. Australian red meat exports are discussed in more detail here.