Subscribe to MLA's e-newsletters

Stay informed with the latest red meat and livestock industry news, events, research and marketing.

Sign up
Back to News & Events

Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

28 July 2023

Key points:

  • Cow prices increased, while restocker prices continued to soften.
  • Increased activity from feeder buyers has supported a lift in prices week-on-week.
  • Sheep and lamb prices eased, with considerable variation between saleyards.


The cattle market was mixed this week, with processor and dairy cow prices rising. Feeder steer prices improved whereas heavy steers to processors eased slightly. Restocker prices continue to ease.

National yardings tightened 17% week-on-week to 40,661 head, with pronounced falls in volume across Queensland; Roma yardings fell by 4,275 head, Gracemere yardings fell by 2,052 head and Charters Towers fell by 1,110 head due to some rainfall conditions in supply areas. The only sale in the state to post an increase in yardings was Dalby.

Cow prices performed well, with the processor cow rising 9¢/kg week-on-week and a softening in throughput. The Dairy Cow indicator rising 33¢/kg was the strongest improvement for the week. A tight supply of prime quality cattle at Leongatha, the largest contributor to the Dairy Cow indicator, helped support premium prices for cows with good finish.

The Feeder Steer indicator rose slightly from last week to 322¢/kg, despite yardings increasing by more than 900 head. Active feeder buyers at Blackall increased the competition for steers and heifers, supporting improvements in price. Wagga Wagga cattle sale had a tightening of yardings but increased activity from feedlot buyers. The Heavy Steer indicator dropped slightly to 278¢/kg after a slight increase in yardings.

Restocker prices continued to ease, with the Restocker Yearling Heifer falling 7¢/kg week-on-week to 238¢/kg and the Restocker Yearling Steer indicator falling 9¢/kg to 317¢/kg.

Similarly, the Eastern Young Cattle indicator declined 11¢ over the week to 564¢/kg carcase weight (cwt). The feeder-over restocker dynamic continued, with feeder young cattle trading at 581¢/kg and restocker young cattle trading at a 31¢ discount at 550¢/kg cwt.


Sheep prices softened this week as buyer activity was somewhat muted in key saleyards and supply remained high relative to historic levels.

Total yardings fell 14% week-on-week to 215,887 head. Of this, lamb yardings fell by 13% to 159,386 head, while sheep yardings fell by 18% to 56,501 head.

The Trade Lamb indicator fell 40¢/kg week-on-week to 474¢/kg, as buyer interest at larger saleyards, such as Wagga Wagga, was somewhat muted. Buyers were present, but not all were active, with quality variations impacting demand.

Other indicators followed a similar pattern; the Heavy Lamb indicator fell by 29¢/kg to 480¢/kg, the Merino Lamb indicator fell by 59¢/kg to 339¢/kg and the Mutton indicator fell by 75¢ to 2,570¢/kg. There was considerable variation in mutton prices by saleyard; in Forbes, the Mutton indicator fell by 127¢ week-on-week with a large lift in numbers and mixed quality, while in Dubbo the indicator only fell 35¢ week-on-week and was flat month-on-month. Quality at Dubbo drove buyers demand, as has been seen across the market.


As discussed in MLA’s slaughter update article, slaughter numbers increased with the return of several processing plants from winter maintenance shutdown periods.

Cattle slaughter firmed slightly to 120,351 head, 30% above year-ago levels. An 11% uplift in NSW a slight fall in Queensland, with other states holding firm or strengthening slightly.

Lamb slaughter volumes softened 3% to 372,579 head, while sheep volumes more than doubled to 62,502 head. Most of the sheep slaughter increase was in NSW, which rose 148% from last week to 58,015.

Market update

Mount Baker cattle did not run this week.

SA Livestock Cattle Exchange was not reported on this week.