Cattle on feed inventory lifts

25 February 2016

Results from the ALFA/MLA quarterly feedlot survey indicate cattle on feed at the end of 2015 were up 3% year-on-year, at a record 997,765 head.

  • Cattle on feed in Queensland were back 2% year-on-year, at 513,969 head
  • NSW was up 13%, at 358,068 head
  • Victoria increased 25%, to 75,387 head
  • SA declined 1%, to 30,738 head
  • WA was back 43%, at 19,603

The increase was driven by larger feedlots (greater than 1,000 head capacity) in NSW increasing their cattle inventories, with an additional 78,000 cattle on feed added to this category compared to the September quarter. The increase was supported by the onset of hot, dry conditions throughout spring and into summer across much of south east Australia, and increased numbers of cattle being sold from pasture-based enterprises. Cattle yardings in Victoria were up 22% and 8% in November and December, respectively, and a similar lift was recorded at centres in SA, while a modest increase was registered across NSW.

Despite the small decline, Queensland remains the centre of the Australian fed cattle industry, accounting for 52% of the national inventory at the end of 2015.

Total grainfed cattle turnoff declined 4% year-on-year, with 699,067 marketed during the December quarter, accounting for 34% of the national adult cattle kill over this period.

Given the high numbers of cattle on feed at the end of 2015 and the low slaughter numbers so far in 2016, it is likely the grainfed portion of the national kill has increased. This is reflected in some processor grids, with the premium of grainfed over grassfed cattle smaller than much of 2015. This week’s over-the-hook Queensland 100-day grainfed steer indicator is 529¢/kg cwt while the Queensland heavy grassfed steer indicator is 508¢/kg cwt – that is a 21¢ premium for grainfed, but this time last year it was closer to 30¢ and the average for the whole of 2015 was 38¢/kg cwt.

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