Strong start to 2016 live cattle trade

12 April 2016

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), first quarter live cattle exports were just over 302,000 head. This represents a 14% year-on-year increase, with strong trade in both feeder and slaughter cattle exports.

Underpinned by 200,000 head of import permits in the first trimester (January-April), Indonesia remained the largest market for Australian feeder and slaughter cattle. During the first three months of 2016, Australia exported just over 147,000 head – this represents a 48% year-on-year increase, but last year Q1 permits were just 100,000 head. With one month of trade remaining in the current trimester, exports so far indicate about three-quarters of the allocated permits have been utilised. Importers are now in the process of applying for second trimester permits but no official announcement on total numbers has been made.

Exports to Vietnam are estimated to be around 71,000 head, back 25% year-on-year. However, this decline is off a particularly high figure as a result of low Q1 import permits into Indonesia last year, which resulted in Australian exporters directing increased numbers to Vietnam.

The strong live export figures are also reflective of the greater number of cattle being turned off across northern Australia post wet-season. With the increase in supply, live export prices have cooled off, with feeder steers delivered to Darwin currently receiving around 350¢/kg lwt and similar lines delivered to Townsville earning 290-300¢/kg lwt. Supplies are expected to remain elevated over the next few months before tightening towards the final quarter of 2016.

Also outlined in LiveLink:

  • Q1 breeder cattle exports, primarily dairy cows to China, were up 25% year-on-year, at a little over 18,000 head.
  • Sheep exports over the same period were up 25% year-on-year, at just over 491,000 head.
  • Live goat exports, almost entirely to Malaysia, in Q1 were back 19%, at just over 19,000 head.

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