Aussie beef production declines – first time in almost three years

15 September 2015

Australian beef production during July declined 1% year-on-year, at 235,020 tonnes cwt (Australian Bureau of Statistics). This marks a small but significant reduction, as it is the first occurrence in 34 months and more than likely signals the commencement of a longer term trend.

Underpinning the decline in July was a 3% year-on-year fall in the number of adult cattle slaughtered, at 842,141 head. The gender breakdown of cattle contributing to monthly processing remains a concern, with cows and heifers accounting for 52% of the kill in July, at 439,097 head – continuing the prolonged run of high female liquidation.

While there were year-on-year declines in the monthly figures, adult cattle slaughter and production for the first seven months remained higher, driven by the extraordinary turn-off during the first half of the year. For the year-to-July:

  • Adult cattle slaughter was 5.47 million head, up 3%
  • Female adult cattle slaughter was 2.67 million head, up 2%
  • Beef production was 1.52 million tonnes cwt, up 5%
  • Average adult carcase weights were up 1%, at 278kg

Interestingly, despite the high proportion of female cattle processed and the ongoing drought conditions in some of the largest cattle producing regions of the country, average carcase weights are heavier this year. High numbers of cattle on feed and the subsequent heavier carcases through that avenue are likely to be offsetting the lighter animals.

The monthly year-on-year declines in cattle slaughter and beef production are likely to continue over the coming year, especially considering the significant reduction in the Australian cattle herd over the past two years.

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