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Co-products reveal slaughter insights

29 July 2021

Key points:

  • Foetal blood hits $530/litre
  • The spike in foetal blood indicates low female slaughter
  • Merino skins jump on the back of a higher EMI

Foetal blood

Foetal blood has reached $530/litre, an increase of 28% on year-ago levels and a 15% increase on month-ago levels. Given foetal blood is extracted from pregnant cows that are processed, the spike in June and July may indicate that the female slaughter percentage is far lower than originally expected.

Prices for foetal blood spiked to similar levels in 2016–17, another year when the herd was in a rebuild. With ABS slaughter and production now released quarterly rather than monthly, Q2 2021 female slaughter won’t be known officially until August 20. These foetal blood prices reinforce that the herd rebuild is clearly underway and there is a lack of supply of females for slaughter.

Furthermore, foetal blood is used as a growing medium in petri dishes, so some of the price rise is demand driven. Australia’s low BSE risk means it can command a premium for foetal blood over other countries.


The Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) for the month of July is 1,423¢/kg, a rise of 6%, or 85¢/kg, on June levels. These higher wool prices are underpinning higher Merino lamb prices and pushing up the price of Merino skins, which reached $17.42.

Given that 76% of the Australian ewe flock is Merino, this wool price will be welcomed by sheep producers.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021