Elevated female cattle kill continues

19 August 2015

Australia processed over 9.42 million head of cattle during 2014-15, up 7% year-on-year and the highest fiscal year kill since 1979. Add on the 1.38 million head of cattle that were live exported over the same period, and Australia has never recorded so many cattle exiting the system (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

On top of record turnoff, the female component of the kill has continued to remain historically high. As illustrated in Figure 1, the female percentage of the kill has not consistently averaged above 50% since the 2002-03 drought. Each of the three major droughts across the eastern states over the past fifteen years has seen an increase in the proportion of females being killed. With so many females being processed over the past two years, the herd rebuild process will be slow. The latest MLA projections forecast the herd to reach only 27.5 million head by the end of the decade – which is still 6% below the estimated 29.3 million head in 2013.



A large proportion of the additional cattle slaughtered during 2014-15 were processed in Queensland, as much of the central regions of the state remain in drought. In fact, over the past 12 months, Queensland female cattle slaughter has made up 43% of the national female total (which includes the large portion of southern dairy cattle), where the ten-year average has been 39%. However, NSW, SA and Tasmania also recorded elevated levels of female slaughter during 2014-15. Victoria appears to be the only eastern state to display a below average proportion of female slaughter.

Note that the above numbers don’t take into account live exports. As the female proportion of live exports is unknown, it is difficult to determine how many females are leaving via boat. However, female slaughter numbers still remain historically high in absolute terms and not just relative to the male kill.

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