Cattle slaughter continues to track lower

Key points:

  • National cattle yardings up on week-ago levels but back year-on-year
  • NLRS reported female cattle slaughter almost 50% below year-ago levels
  • Competition for finished cattle intensifies, albeit uncertainty grows


Last week, national cattle yardings totalled 54,046 head, 26% below year-ago levels. New South Wales led the decline, easing 54% year-on-year to 15,971 head, while Queensland declined 26% to 18,606 head. Victoria reported an increase in yardings of 52% from the same week in 2019 at 12,713 head, as southern producers look to take advantage of the strong prices in saleyards. Northern restockers have supported southern markets again this week.

Queensland yardings increased 63% to 18,606 head compared to the week prior, with the northern selling centres in the state reporting strong weekly increases, despite another week of wet weather New South Wales yardings declined by 8%, with Victoria easing 16% compared to the last week of February.

A selection of saleyard yardings compared to last week:


  • Charters Towers: up 62% to 2,014 head
  • Dalby: up 28% to 3,922 head

New South Wales:

  • Dubbo: back 36% to 1,310 head
  • TRLX Tamworth: up 64% to 1,300 head


  • Leongatha: back 17% to 2,380 head
  • Shepparton: back 10% to 1,900 head


For the week ending 6 March, eastern states cattle slaughter totalled 116,920 head, 23% below year-ago levels. All states reported year-on-year declines, with Queensland recording the largest reduction, back 32% to 53,112 head. Notably, female slaughter in Queensland is sitting 48% below year-ago levels. Many Queensland producers will be holding onto breeders on the back of the recent rainfall. However, for those looking to get back into breeders, supply availability and price is presenting a challenge. New South Wales slaughter eased 16% to 30,515 head, with Victoria totalling 24,644 head, back 10% compared to the same week last year.



Cattle prices across all specifications have risen sharply in the last six weeks. Despite growing concerns in regards to global demand, finished cattle prices have remained strong. Albeit, the market is beginning to display a disconnect between the price of young and finished cattle.

On Tuesday 10 March, the eastern states heavy steer indicator was reported at 345¢/kg live weight (lwt), 97¢ above year-ago levels and 13¢ up on last week.

This week, over-the-hook (OTH) indicators for heavy steers continued to find support. For the week ending 13 March, the heavy steer OTH indicator compared week-on-week:

  • Queensland: 634¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), up 4¢
  • New South Wales: 586¢/kg cwt, up 9¢
  • Victoria: 590¢/kg cwt, up 9¢

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020

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