Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap
14 July 2023
- Prices for heavier restocker yearling steers indicate producers are exploring shorter-term trade options.
- As supply volumes increase, weight and finish for sheep and lambs will continue to determine price outcomes.
- Heavier goats are commanding higher prices, as indicated by the monthly over-the-hooks report.
Following last week’s rain, which saw supply tighten, national cattle yardings bounced back this week and increased by 54% or 14,600 head.
A solid uptick in processor cow supply suggests that next week (when slaughter figures are released), weekly kill volumes may increase.
Despite a 3,000 head increase in yardings of restocker-bought yearling steers, the indicator remained firm, indicating that last week’s rain has buoyed producer confidence to enter the market and purchase these steers to trade. The indicator finished the week at 328¢/kg liveweight (lwt).
Looking at the restocker yearling steer prices by weight ranges, some key insights to current buyer behaviour appear:
- Steers weighing 200–280kg lost 9¢ this week to end the week at 327¢/kg lwt
- Steers weighing 330–400kg gained 21¢ week-on-week to finish at 327¢/kg lwt.
This data suggests restocker buyers are aware of feeder entry weights adjusting and therefore are looking to purchase heavier steers for a shorter trade.
This is evident in heavier cattle commanding the same price as lighter types, indicating that short-term trades are front of mind for traders or restockers in the market for steers.
Comparing monthly performances, heavy steers have lifted 23¢ to end the week at 294¢/kg lwt – this is the best month-on-month result of all cattle indicators, further demonstrating that processors continue to seek slaughter-weight steers.
Following last week’s positive result for sheep and lambs, this week saw significant improvements in yardings. As a result, there was a softer price return across certain categories.
Lamb yardings lifted by 33,000 head and mutton numbers were higher by over 7,000 head, overall, seeing an extra 39,000 sheep and lambs yarded for the week.
Despite discussion about yardings softening over recent weeks, when examining slaughter volumes, it is evident large volumes of sheep and lambs continue to be sold direct to processors and therefore a suggested supply tightening isn’t necessarily true.
Merino lambs were the best performers in the indicators this week, despite an 1,800 head increase in supply. The indicator improved 9¢ to end the week at 433c/kg carcase weight (cwt).
The Light Lamb and Mutton indicators were firm while restocker, trade and heavy lambs all saw prices soften in the face of strong increases in supply.
As this article mentions, condition and finish of stock will determine price outcomes. Lamb slaughter is forecast to improve as higher supplies of culled ewes and new season lambs enter the market.
While goat slaughter continues to soften, similar trends to the cattle and sheep markets for prices are appearing in the market.
This week, the July over-the-hooks prices were released. The data indicates goats with weight are commanding more stable, premium prices to lighter types:
- Goats over 20kg carcase weight (cwt) saw prices remain firm month-on-month at 322¢/kg cwt.
- Goats 12–20kg are commanding the highest price at 330¢/kg cwt, although did soften 7¢ month-on-month.
- Goats under 10kg saw prices soften by 60¢/kg cwt to end the month at 230¢/kg cwt – this is in line with prices paid during March and April.
These price dynamics indicate processors are prioritising optimal weights in their plants and heavier goats offered to market are commanding better prices. Considering the season that large parts of western NSW and Queensland have experienced throughout 2023, larger volumes of heavier goats can be expected and, as a result, a heavier average carcase when quarterly data is released in mid-August.
Cattle slaughter softened marginally to 117,548 head, although this volume is nearly 20,000 head higher than the corresponding week in 2022.
Lamb slaughter continues to outperform, with 428,762 lambs processed last week. Compared to the corresponding week in 2022, these numbers are higher by 52,266 head or 14%.
The seasonal maintenance period for processing plants saw mutton volumes fall by 74,000 head week-on-week to see 70,422 sheep processed nationally.
- Casino cattle market was not reported this week.