Quantum drop in cattle slaughter – what to expect ahead

11 October 2016

Australian cattle slaughter for August remained slow, exacerbated by the widespread rain stymying the flow of cattle to market. In fact, the number of cattle processed across Australia for the year-to-August is 20% below where it was for the same time last year – one of the greatest turnarounds in Australia’s processing history.

Segregating the male and female counterparts, producer intentions to retain as many females as possible to rebuild depleted herds, particularly in the eastern states, is clearly illustrated in the August data. For the year-to-August, male cattle slaughter is down 15% year-on-year (2.58 million head), restricted by the smaller national herd, however female slaughter is down 24% year-on-year (at 2.41 million head). A significant difference brought about by the relatively high number of females processed last year, combined with the strong intent to replenish drought-depleted herds after widespread winter rainfall.

Average carcase weights continue to track well-above year ago levels and are assisting to reduce the impact on beef and veal production. In fact, Australian adult cattle carcase weights this year have averaged 286 kg/head, up 3% (or 8.8kg/head) year-on-year, meaning beef production so far this year is back to a slightly lesser extent (17% year-on-year) than slaughter, at 1.43 million tonnes cwt. 

The full impacts of the drought liquidation on future cattle slaughter, production and exports can be viewed in the October 2016 Beef Projections through this link.

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