Cattle market - February update - Elders Rural Services

Cattle market – February update

At a glance

  • Little variance between steer and heifer prices points to a high level of confidence from buyers as the wet summer rolls on.
  • Staff shortages in abattoirs to become less of an issue for markets over coming weeks.


Market fundamentals

National trade steer prices have trended sideways in recent months; current prices are 20 per cent above levels from a year ago. Restocker demand continues to drive the market, holding prices up, a trend which appears unlikely to change in February.

At state level, Victoria and New South Wales have experienced growth in prices driven by demand from northern markets. While Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland recorded a decline of -12pc, 7pc and -4pc respectively, the decline mostly due to processing backlogs.

The Elders Weather outlook forecasts multiple cold fronts across southern and eastern Australia from 6 to 15 February. The cold fronts are expected to bring widespread rain originating from the tropics. In Western Australia (WA), the strongest cold fronts will start from 3 to 7 February and again from 12 to 16.

National trade steer prices remain at high levels.
Graph showing National trade steer prices remain at high levels.


  • Seasonal conditions remain conducive for re-stocking.


  • Interruptions to processing capacity due to COVID-19.
  • Tight margins on trading stock could put a short-term ceiling on some categories.

From the field

South Australia

“Weaners recorded strong prices in January, most sales ranged between $2,000-2,500/hd.  There was little variance between weaner steer and heifer prices in terms of $/hd and cents/kg as graziers competed for breeding females. The major influence of the success of the sales has been driven through eastern state demand. Breeding female sales have also been well supported, with mated heifers fetching generally from $3,000-4,000/hd depending on breed and quality, as graziers reaffirm their confidence behind a record period of returns in beef.

“Staff shortages in abattoirs and saleyards have caused some disruptions to local cattle markets but overall prices have remained firm to slightly easier. Feeder steers eased in price early in the new year, with an increase of supply and some difficulty in moving cattle out of the feed yards and to the kill. Looking ahead to February and March, confidence remains high as anticipation is building ahead of several key bull sales.”– Laryn Gogel, Elders Livestock Manager.

Victoria and Riverina

“Early weaner sales produced some outstanding results for sellers. Prices were very strong, driven by demand from northern restockers. High levels of demand were reinforced by appreciating prices against a backdrop of firm yarding volumes. Both weaner heifers and weaner steers have been making similar money, another signal of strong underlying demand from buyers looking to restock.

“The quality of cattle presented has stood out in early 2022, highlighting the level of investment producers have made into herd improvement.

“While it is mostly good news for breeding enterprises, higher prices have put the spotlight on trading margins in feeder markets, something that is being closely managed.” – Matt Tinkler, Elders Livestock Manager.

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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