The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator has roared up to 441.25 cents a kg by Thursday night on the back of useful but patchy rain in wide parts of northern NSW and across much of Queensland.
The prospect of more rain in the northern part of the country on the back of Cyclone Trevor has helped stem the flow of cattle pouring into saleyards.
The EYCI nosedived to 385.25c early last week - its lowest point since December 2014 - in the face of a heavy drought-forced turn-off and a lack of restocker demand.
Last week 53,449 cattle were yarded nationally with almost half of them pouring into NSW saleyards. Queensland yardings hit 15,590 followed by Victoria with 8174. Yardings were light in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.
The ongoing slaughter of female cattle is causing concern with 61,000 cows killed in NSW and Queensland last week.
In response to the rain yardings for sales on Monday shrunk with numbers back by 70pc at Tamworth to 936 while only 936 head were offered at Toowoomba.
Simon Quilty, a Victorian meat trader and consultant, expects the impact of the drought will slash national herd numbers to 25.5 million by the end of 2019.
He said the percentage of females in the January kill reached 50.7pc, well above the 10-year average of 47pc.
Mr Quilty said processors would face tough times when the drought broke and herd rebuilding started.
Plants would face lower throughput for an extended period or shutdowns because of much reduced availability of slaughter stock.
"When assessing the impact of the last 13 months compared to previous droughts the average female kill since 2018 is at 51pc which is higher than the female kill ratio of the last three previous droughts for the same 13 month window," he said.
Meanwhile, plenty of interest will be focused on the Longreach saleyards tomorrow (Friday) when AACo offers 6000 steers from Brunette Downs Station in the parched Barkly region. Restocker interest in north west Queensland has been sparked by recent flooding and rain.
Meat and Livestock Australia said young cattle purchased by restockers and processors were trading at 376c and 378c/kg respectively at the end of last week while feedlots were operating at the better quality end of the market and were on average paying 426c.
So far in 2019 restocker buying had fallen away the most. After opening the year averaging 504c/kg the average restocker price had decreased by 128c with processor buyers down 107c and feeders down 99c.
Restockers bought 39pc of young cattle through saleyards last week while processors purchased 13pc.