Winner, winner chicken dinner

Livestock | 22nd February 2024 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

Data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week included the quarterly dollar value of livestock slaughtered. Accessing the data for the volume of slaughtered animal types, in numbers of head, over the same time period we can generate some average per head prices for several livestock categories for each quarter since late 2019.

As the value of the livestock slaughtered can range from $4 to $5 for chickens up to $1,500 to $2,500 for cattle we have created an index for each livestock category so we can easily compare price trends over time. Starting all animal price indexes at 100 in Q4, 2019 we can see how average prices have fared over the last five years. The cattle index had the strongest increase peaking at 170 in the first quarter of 2022. However, by the end of 2023 the cattle index has pretty much returned to where is started with the index sitting at 102 as of Q4, 2023.

The sheep & lamb index peaked much earlier, at 123 in the middle of 2020, a second time at 121 during Q3 2021 and finally at 120 in Q1 2022. Since the middle of 2022 the sheep & lamb index has been in a steady decline dropping to a low of just 60 at the end of 2023. Meanwhile the pig index has been much more stable throughout the entire five year period, fluctuating between a peak of 104 in Q1 2020 to a low of 87 in Q3 2020. Much of the last four years has seen the pig index sit in the mid 90s, building gradually to sit at 102 in Q4 2023.

The chicken index has been the best performer across the entire five year period gaining steadily from 100 at the end of 2019 to sit at 132 as at the end of 2023. The cattle index outperformed the chicken index for much of the five year cycle, but recent price declines in cattle prices throughout 2023 saw chickens wrestle the winners trophy away from cattle in the last half of 2023.

Price trends expressed as dollar per head figures instead of index measurements for each livestock type are displayed below.

Average quarterly cattle prices have climbed from $1,500 per head in 2019 to peak at $2,600 before returning to $1,500 at the end of 2023. Average sheep & lamb prices have fluctuated between $150 t0 $200 per head for much of the 2019 to 2022 period, easing toward $100 per head by the end of 2023. Average pig prices have varied between $265 to $315 per head over the five years, with very consistent pricing of around $300 for the last 3 – 4 years. Meanwhile average chicken prices have shown relatively steady increases from $4 in 2019 to $5.50 per head in recent times.


  • Pig
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Lamb
  • Processing
  • Producer Share