May cattle slaughter surge

18 July 2018

National slaughter and production increased again in May as a result of drier than average conditions.

May rainfall for much of the eastern states and southern WA was lower than year-ago levels. This largely contributed to national cattle slaughter for the month increasing 11% year-on-year, to over 758,000 head in May (ABS). This brought the year-to-date (January – May) total to almost 3.15 million head, also up 11% on 2017 levels.

Victoria saw the largest increase in adult cattle slaughter, up by 30% or just over 35,000 head on May last year to total almost 152,000 head. Most other states also saw an increase, with the exception of South Australia, which eased by 41% (14,569 head) from last year with the closure of a major processor earlier in the year having an effect.

On the back of higher May slaughter, production increased 9% year-on-year, totalling almost 220,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt). This brought the year-to-date total to over 931,000 tonnes cwt, a 10% increase on 2017 levels.

The national average carcase weight for May was 290.1 kg, back 2% on year-ago levels, as female cattle made up a larger proportion of the total kill. In April and May this year, females accounted for 53% – whereas the five-year average for these months is 50-51%. Female cattle slaughter in May almost reached 403,200 head – the highest monthly volume since July 2015.

For the year-to-date, females made up 49% of national slaughter an increase of 4 percentage points from the same period last year.

View MLA’s monthly beef supply data summary

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