FEMALE cattle slaughter continued to fuel the national cattle kill during January, with cows and heifers accounting for 49 per cent of the monthly kill – up from the five-year average of 46pc.
According to recently released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the official 323,123 females slaughtered in January made 31 consecutive months of higher year-on-year female slaughter, illustrating the extent of herd liquidation as a result of the equally long lasting drought.
Overall adult cattle slaughter was 663,327 head, up 3pc from the corresponding month last year and 27pc higher than the five-year average, setting the precedent for what is likely to be a high first quarter cattle slaughter.
Male slaughter, accounting for the remaining 340,204 head, was up 1pc year-on-year and 21pc on the five-year average.
Underpinned by slightly lighter carcases (down 2pc year-on-year), beef production was up to a lesser degree than slaughter, at 182,062 tonnes cwt.
Meat and Livestock Australia says looking forward, cattle slaughter in the first quarter of 2015, particularly female slaughter, is set to be at least on par with last year’s high level, sustaining the concern around how tight supplies are likely to become once widespread feed conditions are realised.