Record numbers on feed

25 May 2017

Cattle on feed at the end of the March 2017 quarter increased almost 81,000 head (or 8%) from the December quarter, to a record 1,016,000 head, according to results from the latest ALFA/MLA lot feeding survey. High cattle prices and cheap grain have incentivised lot feeders to retain cattle for longer, while continued dry conditions across much of Queensland has seen greater numbers placed on feed.

Numbers on feed across all states increased 11% year-on-year:

  • NSW increase 13% year-on-year, to 329,000 head
  • Queensland advanced 12% year-on-year, to almost 557,000 head
  • Victoria declined 5% year-on-year, to 60,000 head
  • SA increased 19% year-on-year, to 30,000 head
  • WA increased marginally on last year, to 41,000 head

Export mix shifts to grainfed

Grainfed cattle turnoff increased 9% on the previous quarter and was 11% higher year-on-year. With the herd in recovery mode, grassfed cattle slaughter has continued to contract, with the grainfed portion accounting for an unprecedented 42% of the national kill in the March quarter.

The shift in the kill has also been reflected in the export mix. The grainfed portion of total Australian beef exports during the March 2017 quarter was 28% – the equal highest proportion with that of 2007, which came as a result of a widespread dry period and subdued US competition in Korea and Japan.

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