More males in May

13 July 2017


Australian adult cattle slaughter in May totalled just under 700,000 head, up 39% from April but down 5% from the same time last year (ABS). It should be noted that three consecutive short trading weeks in April contributed to the considerable rise in cattle processed month-on-month. This took the total for the year-to-date (January-May) to just over 2.8 million head, an 11% decrease year-on-year.

Cow and heifer retention has seen females continue to make up the majority of the decline in adult slaughter this year, with the herd rebuilding phase underway. In May, female cattle slaughter totalled just over 300,000 head, down 17% year-on-year. Female slaughter totalled almost 1.3 million head for the year-to-date, down 16% year-on-year – accounting for 45% of the total adult kill.

On the other hand, male slaughter in May increased 8% from year-ago levels, to almost 375,000 head. Numbers processed for the year-to-date were 6% lower year-on-year, to just under 1.6 million head.


Beef and veal production for the month was down 1% from year-ago levels, to just over 200,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt), offset by heavier carcase weights. The total for the first five months of 2017 eased 8% year-on-year, to just under 850,000 tonnes cwt.

Lower grain prices have seen greater numbers of cattle on feed and finished at heavier weights. This, in combination with the lower proportion of female slaughter, has contributed to higher carcase weights. The average adult carcase weight is 296.3kg/head for the year-to-date, up 3% on the same period last year. 

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