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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

19 April 2024

Key points:

  • The Eastern States Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) eased by 30¢ to 596¢/kg cwt.
  • Light lambs destined for the Middle East are being impacted by the increasing logistics and transportation cost due to the Middle East conflict.
  • Largest combined sheep and lamb slaughter on record at 692,682 head.


The cattle market eased for all indicators with the Restocker Yearling Heifer indicator performing the strongest. Yardings reached 84,609 head with a notable increase of 15,339 head positioning it as the fourth largest yarding of the year.

The Feeder Steer Indicator eased by 17¢ to 317¢/kg liveweight (lwt), a slight increase in yardings. After the high prices from last week, feedlot buyers were more reserved at NSW and Queensland saleyards focused on light weight steers and medium weight heifers, thus supporting the price of the Restocker Yearling Heifer and Steer Indicator.

The Eastern States Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) eased by 30¢ to 596¢/kg carcase weight(cwt). Strong prices last week have led a lift in yardings of 7,110 to 22,807 head, as producers attempt to capitalise on high prices.


The sheep and lamb market has eased for all indicators with yardings easing by 79,690 to 301,153 head, largely driven by lambs yardings easing by 34% - a reduction of 65,427 head. Sheep yarding also eased by 14,263 to 106,663 head after last week.

The Light Lamb indicator declined by 91¢ to 486¢/kg cwt with yardings eased by 28% to 21,801 head. The conflict in the Middle East and the recent Dubai floods has impacted logistics and transportation costs as the majority of light lambs are destined for the Middle East.

The Mutton Indicator eased by 58¢ to 218¢/kg cwt, with prices across all states easing. Yardings eased by 12,097 to 67,662 head – a 22% reduction. As slaughter continues to reach new records, it indicates processors are near or at capacity. According to market reports, buyers were more selective in their choice of sheep as some buyers were reluctant to pay for sheep over $100 regardless of weight.


Cattle slaughter lifted by 31,831 to 131,061 head, a 32% increase after the easter break, supported by slaughter increasing in all states. Queensland slaughter increased by 18,445 to 67,125 head.  The National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) on average tracks about 20% below the Australian Bureau of Statistics quarterly slaughter figures, slaughter continues to track 14% higher when compared to the same time last year indicating the industry is tracking well towards MLA slaughter projection figure.

Sheep and Lamb slaughter rose by 125,918 to 692,682 head, the largest combined sheep and lamb slaughter on record. Largely supported by the largest sheep slaughter on record at 221,623 head a 46% increase after the easter break. Lamb slaughter lifted in all states except South Australian and Tasmania easing by a combined 17,000 head over the week. Slaughter continues to track above 2022 and 2023 with year to date, slaughter increasing by 210,560 – a 43% increase.