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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

12 April 2024

Key points:

  • Processor interest in lean beef lifted Processor Cow prices by 8¢ to 258¢/kg lwt.
  • Sheep and lamb yardings were up 82% to 367,143 head.
  • Decent supply and high quality trade lambs held prices at 647¢/kg cwt.


The cattle market was relatively mixed this week. Yardings lifted slightly, up 3,866 head (or 7%) to 58,596, though still below the numbers seen earlier in the year. Despite the short week last week, yardings fell in NSW and Tasmania due to several store sales. Queensland yardings lifted slightly 13,485 head, as the Queensland Monday sale was not covered this week.

The Processor Cow Indicator had a lot of interest, lifting 7¢ to 240¢/kg liveweight (lwt). This was paired with a lift in yardings of over 5,000. High quality processor cows were seen in most states, with US demand for lean beef likely driving processor competition. Heavy cows above 520kg received a 10¢ premium. NSW saleyards made up nearly 50% of cow yardings.

The restocker indicators eased this week due to limited buyer interest and lower supply. The Restocker Yearling Heifer Indicator fell by 1¢ to 258¢/kg lwt, with a significant dip in yarding. The Restocker Yearling Steer Indicator eased 4¢ to 348¢/kg lwt. Despite this, restocker steer and heifer prices are 11¢ and 20¢ above month-ago prices respectively, buoyed by decent rainfall across much of the east coast.


The sheep market eased across all indicators as markets stabilised after impressive increases last week. Supply is likely a factor, with yardings lifting significantly. Sheep and lamb yardings were up 82% to 367,143 head. Lamb yardings were up 63% to 249,468 head and sheep yardings were up 141% to 117,927 head.

The Restocker Lamb Indicator was met with mixed demand across the country. The indicator fell by 50¢ to 553¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) after a solid lift last week. Despite this, strong demand was felt for restockers across NSW, Queensland and WA where prices lifted week-on-week, with NSW yards finding solid demand among significant supply lifts, coming in over 70¢ above the national indicator at 625¢/kg cwt.

The Trade Lamb Indicator was met with good supply and decent quality, remaining relatively stable – it shifted by 1¢ to 647¢/kg cwt. Market reports note that trade lamb prices in some saleyards were supported by restocker and feeder demand. The indicator performed particularly well in NSW, where high quality lambs were met with competition. Victoria also witnessed decent price lifts in Ballarat.


Week ending 5 April 2024

Cattle slaughter dipped again with another short processing week due to the Easter long weekend. Slaughter numbers fell 6,465 head to 99,230 – the first time the figure has been under six figures since January. The dip in slaughter was led by a respective 38% and 12% reduction in SA and Queensland. All other states lifted cattle slaughter figures week-on-week, with the largest lift of 11% in WA. Year-to-date slaughter remains 14% above 2023, at 1,592,274 head processed this year.

Combined sheep and lamb slaughter lifted slightly week-on-week by 9,481 head to 556,764 despite the short processing week. This was driven by the slight increase in lamb slaughter to 421,679 head over the short week, with sheep slaughter easing to 145,086. Despite not reaching the record levels seen two weeks ago, these numbers are relatively high against long-term processing averages. Tasmania and SA were the only states to lift in both sheep and lamb production week-on-week, with SA up 24% for combined slaughter.

Beef Producer Intentions Survey

The April Beef Producer Intentions Survey (BPIS) is focused on surveying southern and northern grass-fed producers regarding calving and stocking intentions. Click here for the April survey.