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Market dynamics and seasonal influences drive cattle and sheep prices

01 March 2024

Key points:

  • The ECYI has lifted by 2¢ to 628¢/kg cwt.
  • The mutton indicator increased by 40¢ to 290¢/kg cwt.
  • Drier weather in key sheep-producing regions has affected markets, leading to plainer quality sheep in saleyards.


The cattle market displayed positive trend across the majority of indicators this week. Yardings increased by 3,784 to 61,656 head, slightly above the three-year average.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) lifted by 2¢ to 630¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), with Queensland driving prices, particularly for well-bred lines.

The feeder steer indicator declined by 2¢ to 334¢kg live weight (lwt). Yardings eased by 445 to 2,989 head, which stabilised the price and reactivity that occurred in previous weeks. Demand remained strong for medium to heavy feeder steers, driven by a supply shift towards lighter-weight cattle.

The dynamics of supply and demand played a pivotal role in strengthening market prices.


There were mixed results in the sheep market as prices continued to ease for some indicators. Combined sheep and lamb yardings lifted by 73,531 to 313,974 head, driven by an 82% increase in sheep yardings to 128,272 head.

The mutton indicator experienced a 22¢ lift to 281¢/kg cwt. A substantial supply of older lambs contributed to nearly doubling yardings during the week. Price in NSW and Victoria lifted by 89¢ and 19¢ respectively, driven by increased offloading of stock by producers at this time of year.

The heavy lamb indicator eased by 33¢ to 617¢/kg cwt, with prices softening across all states, with the strongest prices in NSW and Victoria. According to BOM, in key sheep-producing regions are drier than Northern Australia, which is leading to plainer quality sheep in saleyards.


Week ending 23 February 2024

There was a 3% increase in cattle slaughter this week, rising by 3,163 to 128,347 head. NSW slaughter declined by 684 to 33,288 head, while Victorian slaughter increased by 2,803 to 18,778 head.

Sheep and lamb slaughter decreased by 51,131 to 609,997 head, with NSW recording declines of 43,204 head for sheep and 13,482 head for lamb slaughter. Despite these fluctuations, slaughter remains relatively high, aligning with the levels observed in 2022 and 2023.