Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap 25 November

Key points:

  • National cattle and sheep and lamb yardings recorded their second highest volume respectively for 2022.
  • Cautious buyer sentiment as a result of numerous market factors affected cattle price performance.
  • Finished lamb prices improve strongly despite higher supply.

Cattle

The cattle market experienced a general softening this week across all categories, with three key factors impacting price performance:

  1. Sustained flooding in supply regions affecting cattle quality and buyer attitudes
  2. A 23% rise in weekly national yardings
  3. Cautiousness over current market conditions affecting buyer demand.

Weekly national yardings reached 56,419 head this week, which was 53% higher than the 2022 weekly average. States that saw solid improvements in yardings were NSW, Queensland and WA, lifting 63%, 24% and 47% respectively week-on-week. Victorian and South Australian yardings both fell this week by 37% and 17% respectively.

Evidence of the cautious and selective buyer attitudes at present can be seen in the restocker yearling steer price, falling 4.9% or 30c to finish the week at 585c/kg lwt to record its lowest price since 10 August.

Finished cattle prices across the eastern seaboard weren’t exempt, with the Eastern States Heavy Steer softening 14% or 69c to finish the week at 406c – although this was a premium to the national price of 395c/kg lwt.

While prices and the market has softened, prices continue to perform across all categories in most markets well above the five-year averages.

Sheep

The sheep market this week saw prices for processor lambs and mutton improve across most states while light and restocker lambs mirrored the cautiousness and selectivity of restocker cattle buyers, falling in price.

National sheep and lamb yardings rose by 34% or 72,458 to yard a total of 285,729 head across the country, this saw the country record its second highest weekly yarding for 2022. The major states of NSW and Victoria drove the solid increase, with both states rising in numbers by 61% and 22% respectively. Evidently, a drier week for both of these states despite overwhelming flooding in major sheep regions of the Riverina in southern NSW allowed a solid uptick in supply of stock to the market. Western Australia and South Australian numbers were firm or slightly softer, with harvest continuing to dictate supply of stock.

Finished lamb prices improved strongly this week, with the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator rising by 2.1% to reach 759c, the eastern states Heavy Lamb Indicator improved had a better week, rising by 3.7% or 29c week-on-week to hit 818c/kg cwt. Currently, the Eastern States Heavy Lamb Indicator is operating at a 7.8% or 59c/kg cwt premium to its trade lamb counterpart.

With the Eastern States Heavy Lamb Indicator at such a premium to the trade lamb, this demonstrates processor buyers demand for heavier stock.

Although the overall sheep and lamb prices are softer than year-ago levels, it must be put into perspective that prices during this time were near record highs and the market has since fallen to longer term average price performance.

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