Big drop in beef production to open 2016

12 May 2016

Australian beef and veal production in the first quarter of 2016 was substantially (17%) lower than last year, at 532,683 tonnes carcase weight – the result of a sharp decline in cattle and calf slaughter.

Adult cattle slaughter was down 19% over the quarter, to 1.82 million head, and calves were 24% lower, at 89,840 head (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

One production indicator that moved against the downward trend was the average weight of adult cattle carcases processed, which rose 2% from last year, to 289.2kg. This was the result of a higher proportion of male cattle (generally heavier than females) and grainfed cattle in the kill, not from of an improvement in growing conditions for cattle. During the opening quarter of this year, 54.3% of the adult cattle processed in Australia were male, up from 50.6% over the same period last year.

Lower production was registered across the country, with Queensland beef and veal production accounting for 46% of the volume decline, and NSW and Victoria 25% each. All states also recorded a drop in the number of female cattle processed, but the decline in Queensland was significantly larger than the rest – female cattle slaughter was down 40%, compared with all other states which ranged between 10–17% lower than last year. After three years of very large cattle kills and herd culls, this reduction in the female kill is necessary to begin a national rebuild of cattle numbers.

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