Tighter supply of cattle sees number on feed decline

10 November 2016

Contraction in the Australian cattle herd and reduced supplies of cattle to slaughter has resulted in a greater reliance on cattle supplied through the lotfeeding sector.

The latest ALFA/MLA lotfeeding survey results for the September 2016 quarter indicate cattle numbers on feed eased 18% from year-ago levels, to 788,873 head – accounting for approximately 65% of Australian feedlot capacity.

On the back of tighter supply of cattle and increased competition from the restocking sector, numbers on feed declined across all eastern states. Cattle on feed in NSW and Queensland eased 11% to 250,430 head, and 20% to 461,839 head respectively. Numbers in Victoria decreased 30% to 46,875 head and SA eased 60% to 9,757 head. Meanwhile, as a result of increased herd numbers, cattle on feed in WA jumped 53% to 19,972 head.

Despite numbers on feed declining 18% for the quarter, grainfed cattle turn off eased to a lesser extent over the same period, back 15% year-on-year, to 670,105 head – due in part to the high numbers on feed in the previous quarter and cattle being retained on feed for longer. However, with a 29% year-on-year decline in grassfed cattle slaughter for the quarter, grainfed cattle accounted for 38% of the total Australian adult cattle kill for the quarter – the highest level for the grainfed portion since the March 2010 quarter.

Furthermore, the grainfed proportion of total beef exports grew to 27% for the quarter, up from 21% in 2015. Quarterly grassfed exports eased 33% year-on-year to 175,009 tonnes swt, while grainfed exports were back marginally (3%), to 65,813 tonnes swt.

For further analysis on the grainfed export market please CLICK HERE.

To read the latest quarterly MLA/ALFA lotfeeding brief, please CLICK HERE or if you wish to subscribe, please email marketinfo@mla.com.au.

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