Cattle on feed continues record run

25 November 2015

Australian cattle on feed during the September quarter were in excess of 960,000 head, making a complete 12 months with numbers at that level, and creating a sequence that’s never been seen before.


Cattle in Queensland feedlots crept to record levels, with 575,000 head registered for the quarter, up 6% year-on-year and 22% on the five-year quarterly average. The results for Queensland in particular are unsurprising, given the dependence on grain finishing while there is extreme grass shortage.

In NSW, the rise was less significant (1% year-on-year) for the September quarter, largely the result of better feed conditions for large swathes of the state, yet numbers were still well above (25%) the five-year average.

Cattle on feed in Victoria were reflective of the spreading drought in the west of the state and up 29% year-on-year, at 66,735 head, while in SA, numbers were steady year-on-year, at 24,000 head. Similarly, cattle in WA feedlots were at 13,000 head, relatively consistent with the same time last year.

The result of greater cattle on feed was indeed higher grainfed beef marketings, with the 786,000 head for the September quarter up a 21% from the same time last year, and taking the total for the first nine months of 2015 to 2.2 million head.

Given the declining availability of Australian cattle, evident through lower saleyard throughput and fewer numbers processed in recent months, it is likely the record surge of cattle on feed will come to an end shortly. However, the five-year quarterly average number on feed is 800,000 head and it is unlikely those numbers will be seen for some time.

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