Holidays hamper supplies

08 June 2017

Slaughter

On top of already tight cattle supplies, three consecutive short weeks in April due to the Easter and ANZAC day public holidays contributed to a further decrease in the number of cattle processed.

Australian adult cattle slaughter in April totalled just under 500,000 head, down 23% from March and 24% lower than the corresponding period last year (ABS).

This brought the total for the year-to-date (January-April) to almost 2.2 million head, a 13% decrease year-on-year. Females have accounted for the majority of the decline so far this year, signalling the herd rebuilding phase is underway. Female adult cattle slaughter was down 16%, to just over 973,200 head, while male adult cattle slaughter was 9% lower than year-ago levels, at 1.2 million head.

Production

The volume of beef produced in April declined to a lesser extent than slaughter, offset somewhat by increasing carcase weights.  Total beef production for the month was down 20% year-on-year, to just over 146,700 tonnes cwt.  

For the year-to-date, production tracked 10% lower than last year, at just under 641,000 tonnes cwt. In fact, this year-to-date production volume is the lowest for the four month period since 2004.

The combination of improved seasonal conditions, fewer females being processed and genetic improvement has seen average carcase weights increase this year. In April, adult cattle averaged a high of 299.2kg cwt/head – up 6% from last year. The average carcase weight for the year-to-date lifted 3% from the corresponding period last year, to 296.3kg/head.

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