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Goat production at highest level in 2.5 years

02 December 2021

Key points:

  • Australian goatmeat production exceeded 6 million kilos
  • Female beef production fell 39% to the lowest level since March 2017
  • Grainfed domestic consumption fell below 50% again

MLA received additional ABS production data this week. The data, which was for the September 2021 quarter, included information on male and female cattle carcase weights and goat production.

Some key takeaways from the data included:

Goat production

Goat production exceeded 6,000 tonnes for the first time since March 2019. In the last quarter, goat slaughter hit 344,000 head, an increase of 81% on last year and 32% on the June quarter.

The rise in slaughter translated to higher production and highlights that the goat population rebuild has matured, with producers now harvesting and mustering goats again after two years.

Goat carcase weights remained above 17kg for the third consecutive quarter, in part due to the improved seasonal conditions and abundance of feed. However, the rise in goat carcase weights can also be attributed to a shift in the industry towards managed goat operations, where producers are not processing every goat they muster (both small and large). Rather, they are now keeping lighter goats for longer and finishing them out to heavier weights.

Goat production remains concentrated in Victoria and Queensland, where 88% of goats are processed. However, most of the goats processed in these states come from NSW.

Grainfed production

Grainfed animals accounted for 46% of all animals slaughtered in the September quarter. In terms of production, grainfed beef accounted for 48.6% of all beef produced, with domestic grainfed consumption making up 49% of all beef consumed. The drop across these categories is due to the percentage of grainfed turnoff falling.

Female beef production

Female slaughter for the September quarter was 44.4%, signalling a rebuild. However, in terms of beef production, female cattle only accounted for 39.1% of all beef produced. This was the lowest percentage of female beef produced since 2017.

This demonstrates the short supply of female cattle for processing and underpins the high medium cow prices this year.

Bobby calf production in Victoria fell significantly in the quarter. This is surprising as September is usually the highest quarter for bobby calf production.

Carcase weights

Male carcase weights in Australia remained at 341kg for the third consecutive quarter.

While steer weights remained stable in Queensland at approximately 352kg, they fell in NSW and Victoria by 1.5% and 2.6%, to 318 and 334kg, respectively. These dips can be attributed to the increased percentage of grassfed turn-off.

In WA and Tasmania, weights rose due to favourable conditions, rising to 298kg and 333kg, respectively. In WA, this means that grainfed steers are nearly cracking the 300kg mark – a common trend on the east coast.

Nationally female carcase weights dropped 3.3kg in the September quarter from 276.3kg to 273kg, with every state except Tasmania experiencing a drop in female carcase weights.

Australian female carcase weights

  • NSW: 268.8kg
  • Victoria 285.2kg
  • Queensland: 270kg
  • SA: 265.1kg
  • WA: 252.6kg
  • Tasmania: 276.6kg