THE number of cattle on feed in WA has almost halved compared to the same period last year, according to June quarter figures released by the Australia Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
Australia-wide the overall cattle on feed numbers increased by 11 per cent to 790,000 on the back of higher than expected sorghum supplies and solid domestic beef demand, but WA bucked the trend and was the only state to see a decrease in numbers compared to last quarter.
In the June 2009 quarter, WA had 43,790 cattle on feed or a capacity utilisation of 43pc, however in this quarter, there were only 28,439 cattle on feed, a utilisation of 29pc.
Last quarter, a total of 53,596 cattle were turned off but this quarter that figure was down to 36,564.
Australian Lot Feeders' Association (ALFA) president Jim Cudmore stated the majority of the increase was experienced in Queensland and NSW where static sorghum prices, resilient domestic beef demand and increased processor interest encouraged lotfeeders to increase numbers over the short term."
"With the marginal decline in feed grain prices in southern states more than offset by the highest feeder cattle prices experienced since 2008, increases in cattle numbers on feed were consequently constrained in Victoria, South Australia and WA," Mr Cudmore said.
"Fortunately the northern sorghum crop proved better than expected and export sorghum demand was only modest leaving sufficient supplies to encourage cattle placements in northern NSW and Qld.
"The favourable turn in the season in many eastern states regions during late summer, and the associated potential for a reduction in grassfed cattle through the mid-year supply period, enhanced interest from processors in shoring up supply.
"Undoubtedly the wet weather induced supply interruptions experienced in Queensland earlier in the year played a role in their purchasing behaviour."
MLA chief economist Peter Weeks said grainfed beef exports were 2pc down on the previous year, largely due to lacklustre demand, a strong Australian currency and increased US competition.
"Grainfed exports to Japan were down 6pc on the previous year on the back of a 11pc increase in currency against the yen and a 43pc increase in US beef imports," Mr Weeks said.
"In contrast, exports to Korea were up 28pc year on year with the Australian dollar remaining fairly stable against the won, local beef production well down and US imports increasing by only 13pc on the same period last year."