Cattle market – December update - Elders Rural Services

Cattle market – December update

At a glance

  • National trade steer prices firmed slightly to 539 c/kg lwt but increased supply is expected over the coming six weeks.
  • Flooding in New South Wales prevented a number of cattle from getting to market in November, sellers are likely to wait and see what happens over the coming weeks.

Market fundamentals


National trade steer prices increased slightly in November; current prices are 31.4 per cent (pc) above year ago levels. Restocker demand remains high after another wet month across most of the country.

At state level, Queensland feeder steers recorded a 7.5 pc gain on this time last month with current prices trading around 45 pc above year ago levels. While South Australia and New South Wales recorded a decline of -5.3 pc and -1.4 pc as supply increased.

Southern regions will begin to ramp up weaner sales in December and into 2022, demand is expected to be strong with buyers confident about seasonal conditions.

The Elders Weather outlook for December forecasts multiple cold fronts across southern and eastern Australia from 15 to 19 December, 22 to 26 December and 2 to 6 January. The cold fronts are expected to bring widespread rain. In Western Australia (WA), the strongest cold fronts will start from 11 to 15 December, 23 to 27 December and 5 to 9 January.

You can read about some of the significant sales for the month of November in our latest edition of Bidders, winners and records.

Graph showing national trade steer prices dip under increased supply.



  • Seasonal conditions remain conducive for re-stocking.


  • Yarding volumes are likely to increase in southern regions.

From the field

Southern South Australia

“Prime heavy cattle markets eased slightly in November under the weight of increased supply. While the feeder cattle market had shown tendencies of easing momentum driven by a shortage of cattle after the eastern states rain which has strengthened demand.

“Weaner sales have commenced, and early signs are excellent with most animals presenting in tremendous condition and 300 kg and above. Supply is expected to ramp up in early January with key sales happening in quick succession.” – Laryn Gogel, Elders Livestock Manager.

Victoria and Riverina

“The cattle market continues to run hot in Victoria, driven by strong prices and unprecedented spring conditions leading to an abundance of feed. Prices have been solid across all classes whether it be older cows or weaners. Demand has mostly come from local buyers looking to restock and make use of cost efficiencies associated with buying local stock.

“Euroa weaner sales have commenced signally the start of the autumn drop weaners, numbers are expected to ramp up over the coming weeks. Early January sales to watch include the Mortlake weaner sale and the Hamilton weaner sale.” – Matt Tinkler, Elders Livestock Manager.

Western Australia

“Weaner sales are getting underway in the South West and demand has been strong. Interest from interstate buyers is expected to continue given current issues being experienced with above average rainfall, giving rise to a wet harvest period by many of our eastern state’s colleagues, which may extend the period of current favourable price indicators.

“Local demand is expected to come from the south coast as wet conditions have provided plenty of feed and incentive to grow herd numbers. Processing challenges remain a factor in the market as several processors are restricted by staff availability.

“The key weaner sales for the month ahead will be Boyanup and Mount Barker both locations are expecting strong yardings.” – Dean Hubbard, Elders Livestock Manager.

New South Wales

“Flooding in parts of the state prevented a number of cattle from reaching saleyards in November. The full extent of flooding won’t be known for weeks but farmers are making the decision to hold onto livestock and wait to see what the feedlot and processing markets do as there has been little change to date.

“Despite disruptions from flooding the restocking cattle market continues to go from strength to strength. It’s hard to value store cattle at present without putting them to auction, be that, either your local saleyards or an online platform like Auctions Plus to realise their true market value. This is also being exaggerated with rain falling through the Northern Territory and Queensland where NSW buyers had been sourcing larger numbers of store stock to background or finish.” – Nik Hannaford, Elders Livestock Manager.

View all upcoming cattle sales

Market indicators

Table showing trade steers and medium steer prices over time.

Table showing trade steers and medium steer prices over time.

Note: States without sufficient data for the current month or without data for a specific stock category will not appear in the table.
*The forecast shown on the graph is derived from an auto regression model (ARIMA) which was used to generate the high and low 68pc confidence interval. The ARIMA model draws on data from 2016 to now. The model is purely mathematical and should only be used as a guide for where prices could land in the next two months.
Sources: Price data reproduced courtesy of Meat & Livestock Australia Limited.

The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.

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