Grainfed cattle numbers soar

20 Nov, 2014 08:27 AM
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Only the third time in the history of the feedlot industry that the 900,000 figure has been exceeded

CATTLE numbers in Australian feedlots increased by 7 per cent in the September quarter to 908,000.

Australian Lot Feeders' Association (ALFA) president, Don Mackay, stated that “the result reflected the ongoing dry conditions which made it difficult for grass fed cattle operators to sustain numbers as well as strong demand for Australian beef overseas”.

The outcome was the highest cattle numbers on feed since December 2006 and only the third time in the history of the feedlot industry that the 900,000 figure has been exceeded.

Utilisation of feedlot capacity at 80pc was also the highest since the same 2006 period.

“The increase in feedlot cattle numbers was driven by Queensland and NSW, hardly surprising given the lack of rain in these states along with their respective importance to overall industry capacity.”

Darling Downs wheat averaged $320 a tonne over the quarter, up 4pc year-on-year and down 12pc on the June quarter, while Darling Downs sorghum eased 6pc year-on-year and 9pc on the June quarter, at $284/tonne.

Yearling steers (330-400kg) trended dearer for the quarter, up 8pc year-on-year, averaging 193 cents a kilogram liveweight nationally.

Strong export demand was reflected in grainfed beef export figures with an increase to 59,581 tonnes slaughter weight, up 11pc on the June quarter and 9pc year-on-year, taking the year-to-September volume to 165,663 tonnes swt, up 10pc on the same period last year.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) senior market analyst, Ben Thomas, stated that quarterly grainfed beef exports to Japan and Korea increased 16pc and 25pc from the corresponding period last year, at 34,504 and 9693 tonnes swt respectively.

Whilst September quarter grain fed beef exports to China declined 72pc year-on-year to 1635 tonnes swt, exports to the EU and US increased 31pc and 143pc year-on-year to 4507 and 2838 tonnes swt, with year-to-September volumes to the US up 144pc, at 6,571 tonnes swt.

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