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Rain helps boost cattle prices

01 December 2023

Key points:

  • Consistent rainfall has increased producer confidence in the eastern states.
  • States with high rainfall have seen the highest jumps in prices.
  • Feeder steer prices in Queensland have lifted by 115¢ over the last month.

Recent rainfall on the east coast over the last week ranging from 25mm to 150mm has improved market sentiment, pushing up prices for all cattle indicators. The performance of each state is closely linked to the amount of rainfall over the past two months.

Caption: Australian rainfall over the past week. Image: Bureau of Meteorology

New South Wales

Over the past several weeks, NSW has received a considerable amount of rain – generally between 50–150mm, though some areas have received more. This has resulted in cattle prices rising, as shown by the feeder steer indicator lifting 91¢ over the past month to 278¢/kg live weight (lwt). Sales in New England and the Central West have typically outperformed sales in the Riverina, as the north of the state was drier prior to the rain and has received slightly more rain over the past fortnight.


Cattle prices in Queensland have lifted the most over the past month, with the feeder steer rising 115¢ to 329¢/kg lwt. In October, Queensland rainfall was well below average across most of the state and was drier than the rest of the east coast. As such, the rain had the strongest positive effect on market confidence, with both prices and yardings lifting.


Unlike NSW and Queensland, Victoria had a relatively wet winter, which did not have as large an effect as further north. With that said, prices still did lift, both due to increased confidence from local producers and from rising buyer demand interstate. The feeder steer indicator lifted by 26¢ to 229¢/kg lwt over the last month, the highest level since September.

Western Australia

The impact of rain is clear when considering feeder prices in Western Australia. WA received little rainfall over the last fortnight and is now drier than the east coast. This has likely led to a 6¢ fall in the feeder steer to 192¢/kg lwt over the past month. This bucks the 2023 trend of WA prices remaining at a slight premium to east coast prices.