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Queensland feeder cattle in high demand

19 November 2020

Key points:

  • Excluding Blackall, equal amount of feeder cattle have been sold in 2020 and 2019, at 200,000 head
  • Southern Queensland yardings down for all buyers year-on-year
  • Demand for cattle out of western Queensland supporting restocker and feeder numbers

Year-to-date National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) saleyard throughput shows that Queensland feeder cattle have been in high demand with 200,000 head sold, equal to 2019 levels for the same period. Limited rainfall in key cattle regions has justified demand for feeder cattle amid decreasing processor and restocker activity compared to 2019. Excluding Blackall (not reported in 2019), processor and restocker cattle numbers declined 8% and 21%, respectively.

The inclusion of cattle sold at Blackall in 2020 has meant a 60,000 head increase to restockers and a 30,000 head increase for feeder cattle, highlighting the demand for younger cattle coming out of western Queensland. Young cattle out of western and southern Queensland have been in high demand from NSW producers due to favourable pasture conditions and tightening local supply, while Queensland feedlotters are looking to secure cattle as the wait for drought-breaking rain continues.

Breakdown by buyer and region

Restockers

A 30% decline in southern Queensland yardings has meant fierce competition for a lower supply of stock out of key selling centres, however, restockers are still acquiring the lion’s share of cattle. Blackall has brought on significant volumes of restocker cattle, propping up western Queensland at 59,745 head. Central Queensland and northern Queensland were firm year-on-year at 77,201 and 25,686 head, respectively.

Feeders

Southern Queensland’s feeder market continues to be dominant despite less throughput (129,133 head, down 11%) year-on-year. They are trailed by western Queensland and then narrowly central Queensland. The price spread between saleyard regions in 2020 is much tighter than 2019, reflective of intense competition for feeder cattle as supply tightens and buyers look to attain a market share.

Processors

Central Queensland had an influx of processor cattle in 2020, with yardings up 38% to sit at 57,631 head. However, this strong performance has adversely affected southern Queensland processor cattle numbers, which are now down significantly by 67,207 head, a decline of 41% year on year. Northern Queensland experienced the largest percentage increase of processor cattle in 2020, up 200% to 48,929 head.

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© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020