Aussie beef production edges lower

08 October 2015

After a small year-on-year decline in July, Australian beef production edged lower for the second consecutive month in August, to 202,205 tonnes cwt (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

This more than likely cements the commencement of what’s going to be a long-term downward trend, as the Australian cattle herd is estimated to have declined from a 30 year high, to 20 year low over the space of just two years.

Underpinning the decline in production during August was a 7% year-on-year fall in cattle slaughter, despite ongoing drought conditions for many regions and cattle prices that progressively became dearer.

For the month, adult cattle slaughter was 738,850 head, comprising of 51% cows and heifers. With an extraordinarily high proportion of females slaughtered for the year-to-August, herd rebuilding is inevitably going to be a slow process over the coming years.

Despite monthly cattle slaughter and production being lower for two consecutive months, figures for the year-to-August remain above year-ago levels:

  • Cattle slaughter is 6.2 million head, up 2% year-on-year
  • Male slaughter is 3 million head, up 3%
  • Female slaughter is 3.2 million head, up 1%
  • Beef production is 1.7 million tonnes cwt, up 3% year-on-year.

The lower beef production predicted going forward will ultimately lead to tighter supplies available for the domestic and export market, and should work to support cattle prices.

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