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Latest ABS data shows increasing livestock slaughter and decreased saleyard values

17 November 2023

The latest livestock products data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that Australia has entered a destocking phase for cattle and sheep, according to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

MLA Manager – Market Information, Stephen Bignell, said the ABS numbers were reflective of the drier conditions experienced in many parts of Australia over winter and producers’ response to the forecast El Nino summer.

Mr Bignell said the latest ABS statistics for the September quarter showed a 5.7 percent increase in red meat production, with cattle slaughter increased by 10.5% to 1.9 million head and overall beef production up 8.3% to 589,406 tonnes.
Lamb slaughter in the September 2023 quarter increased 8.7% to 6.6 million head and lamb meat production increased 7.7% to 160,954 tonnes.

Mr Bignell said that sheep slaughter, in contrast, decreased by 18.1% to 2.1 million head, with mutton production back 11.8% to 54,189 tonnes, with the decrease largely due to elevated lamb slaughter reducing sheep processing capacity.

“Even though there is an increase in slaughter for cattle and lamb production, the ABS numbers are reflecting lower overall value due to the lower values being experienced at the saleyards for producers,” Mr Bignell said. “The gross value of cattle and calves slaughter decreased 2.5% to $3.2 billion, while sheep and lambs decreased by 18.5% to $956.6 million.

“This is the first time since producer receipts have been recorded that quarterly sheep and lamb receipts were below $1 billion in value.

“For the last three years, Australia has been experiencing a herd rebuild and La Nina weather patterns. The latest ABS data shows that there is currently a turning point to a destocking period for the September quarter of 2023.”

Mr Bignell said that there had been some pockets of positive weather and a notable improvement in saleyard market conditions since the data being reported on for the September quarter.

He added that weather in coming months would be crucial for determining whether there is a longer trend of destocking.

“We’ve started to see some positive trends in the weather and a solid market response in recent weeks, and a continuation of positive rainfall will further drive that confidence.”