Cattle slaughter finally eases - but still historically high

22 July 2015

Eastern states adult cattle slaughter has gradually reduced over the past two months, with last week’s kill at 164,234 head – down 7% from mid-May.

However, to place in perspective just how high cattle slaughter still is, the average weekly cattle kill from 2009–2013 was 134,000 head – still 30,000 head below the current level.

Interestingly, prior to the huge drought-induced herd liquidation that commenced towards the end of 2013, the highest kill on MLA records was 155,000 head. Since the beginning of 2014, weekly slaughter has only rarely fallen below that figure – predominantly during weeks with public holidays.

There was a huge step-up in 2014, when the average weekly kill was 163,638 head, and for the year-to-date this year, the average is 164,549 head.

Breaking down the states, the Queensland kill last week was close to 86,000 head, back 3% from the highs of mid-May.

NSW has also reduced 3% over the same period, to 40,000 head.

The southern states, and particularly Victoria, are where the most significant reductions have been, with 24,700 head killed last week – down 21% compared with two months ago. SA has eased 13% to 9,000 head.

Looking forward, supplies are evidently already becoming tighter in Victoria and as pasture conditions improve in NSW, the reducing trends are likely to continue.

Slaughter in Queensland, however, is likely to continue at the elevated levels until there is an improvement in feed and water conditions in the drought affected regions.

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