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Cattle and sheep market wrap

08 December 2023

Key points:

  • The heavy steer indicator lifted 24¢ to 262¢/kg lwt.
  • The heavy lamb indicator lifted by 88¢ to 626¢/kg cwt.
  • Cattle yardings were 86,857 head, the biggest weekly figure this year.


The cattle market generally lifted this week, as producer confidence improved ahead of the looming Christmas holiday season. Cattle yardings increased 31,926 to 86,857 head, the largest weekly yarding since November 2019.

The heavy steer indicator lifted by 24¢ to 262¢/kg live weight (lwt). Prices lifted in Victoria and NSW, which together make up over 70% of the indicator, but eased in Queensland as a substantial increase in indicator throughput placed the indicator much closer to the national average, at 262¢/kg lwt.

Sheep and lambs  

Sheep and lamb prices lifted over the week with overall yardings increasing by 69,370 to 412,418 head. Lamb yardings increased by 51,442 to 286,068 and sheep yardings lifted by 17,928 to 126,350 head.

The heavy lamb indicator lifted 88¢ to 626¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). Prices lifted across every state and nearly in every saleyard. National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) reports indicate that bidding for heavy lambs was competitive at Wagga, driving up the price by 115¢ to 717¢/kg cwt. 

The mutton indicator lifted 4¢ to 209¢/kg cwt. Prices across the state were varied, with NSW prices falling 4¢ to 225¢/kg cwt and Victorian prices lifting 18¢ to 202¢/kg cwt. Variation in quality accounts for much of the difference in prices. NLRS reports indicate that demand for heavier, finished mutton was substantially stronger than for smaller animals.  


Week ending 1/12/2023

Cattle slaughter fell by 4,504 to 123,950 head last week. South Australia was the only state that had a rise in slaughter numbers of 668, or 20%. Slaughter numbers eased in all other states. The largest processing state of QLD fell by 4,093 head to 61,820, while in NSW numbers dropped by 309 to 33,513.

Weekly lamb slaughter fell after the record levels seen last week, with numbers easing by 27,361 to 466,417. This trend occurred across all states, notably with NSW dropping by 18,852, or 16%, to 102,471 and Tasmania by 2,226 or 22%.

Sheep slaughter rose by 20,280, supported by an increase in NSW by 18%, or 14,599, to come to 97,533. Combined slaughter remained relatively stable, falling by 7,181 head week-on-week for a combined total slaughter of 672,638.


November red meat exports fell 6% from October but lifted 35% from November last year to 166,310 tonnes. Beef exports rose 35% year-on-year (YoY) to 93,802 tonnes, while lamb exports rose 30% to 29,869 tonnes and mutton exports rose 39% YoY to 19,849 tonnes. China was the largest market overall, with red meat exports lifting 25% YoY to 37,685 tonnes, while beef exports to the United States rose by 108% YoY to 19,539 tonnes, making the USA the largest beef market for the month, and the year, so far.