Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap 28 April

Key points:

  • Cattle yardings softened to typical weekly averages after last week’s high of 55,444 head.
  • The EYCI closed 14¢ softer than a week ago to finish at 671¢/kg cwt, and supply halved through the indicator. This performance is indicative of the broader market.
  • Processor prices for lambs softened week-on-week while mutton remained stable.


After last week’s national cattle yarding of 55,444 head (54% or 19,000 head above the 2023 weekly average), cattle numbers tightened substantially this week.

Cattle yardings reached 36,499 head, firm on the 2022 average. Despite a shortened selling week, typical weekly volumes were offered this week, demonstrating the continued improvement in supply as the cattle cycle matures.

As expected, the ANZAC Day public holiday saw numbers fall sharply. In anticipation of the public holiday, producers chose to offload larger numbers of stock the week before (in turn driving higher supply).

Evidence of the challenging market environment at present can be seen in the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator’s (EYCI) performance this week. It closed 14¢ softer than a week ago to finish at 671¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) and supply halved through the indicator. This performance is indicative of the broader market.

A clearer understanding of the market’s position and general demand from buyers will ensue as May delivers consistent selling weeks.


Lamb yardings nearly halved this week – 108,000 head were offered for sale, down from 201,000 head the week before. Meanwhile, mutton volumes fell by 33,000 head to 68,168 head.

It’s expected that numbers will return to the more ‘normal’ pre-April levels. Supply of sheep and lambs is expected to remain strong well into winter due to the growing flock and improved flexibility of producers to turn-off older, non-performing ewes.

Processor-bought lambs ended the week softer, with heavy and trade lambs softening 10¢ and 16¢/kg cwt respectively. The heavy lamb indicator ended the week at 689¢ and the trade lamb finished at 684¢/kg cwt, despite a strong sale at Wagga Wagga.

Throughput in both indicators halved, highlighting erratic pricing performance due to shortened selling weeks and sales not running.

The mutton indicator finished firm week-on-week at 436¢/kg cwt, with current prices operating at their highest level since early sales in January 2023. Month-on-month, this price has risen 90¢ or 26%, suggesting strong demand for this category should translate into robust export volumes heading into winter.


Last week’s slaughter results delivered positivity and improvements week-on-week.

Cattle processed rose by 29% or 26,000 head week-on-week to record 114,842 head processed for the week ending Friday 21 April. However, with the ANZAC Day public holiday this week and the Queensland Labour day public holiday next week, numbers are expected to fall again before recovering strongly in May.

Combined sheep and lamb slaughter reached their highest volumes nationally since 2019 at 599,760 head – an increase of 24% week-on-week. Compared to the corresponding week in 2022, combined slaughter numbers were higher by 198,000 head or 49%.

Goat slaughter also found support and lifted 43% or 12,000 head to record 40,129 head processed. Compared to the corresponding week in 2022, numbers are higher by 66% or 16,000 head. These numbers demonstrate the robust supply of goats in the system at present and the pressure this is placing on prices.

In May, MLA’s Market Information team will analyse quarterly goat slaughter with data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Market updates

Due to ANZAC Day, the following sales did not operate:


  • Forbes, Naracoorte, Northern Tasmania, Muchea, Ballarat, SA Livestock Exchange


  • SA Livestock Exchange, Warwick, Scone, Shepparton, Northern Tasmania, Naracoorte, Gunnedah, NVLX Wodonga, Camperdown, Inverell, Roma Store, Carcoar.

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