While there's been a number of store cattle sales this month in southern Australia numbers have been down.
Last week Ballarat offered 3118 head while Pakenham the day before yarded around 1600, and the prices paid reflected the reduced offerings.
It's been similar in south west Victoria and South Australia over October, with the feeling producers are using sales this month to clean up their stragglers.
It's expected that up to Christmas more and better finished stock will hit the market having taken advantage of the feed grown on the back of the good winter rainfall.
As well the good seasons in parts of Gippsland, the south west of Victoria and south east of South Australia means there are hopes of more restockers will be in the market.
Cow kill goes down
The prime cattle market could be starting to see the impact of the high number of cows that have gone to slaughter in recent years.
The latest analysis by Mecardo using ABS figures shows the recent female cattle slaughter fell, with seven per cent fewer cows and heifers processed in August compared to July.
But that's still above the five year average, well in front of 2017's figure, and compared to to last year it's up by six percent.
In August the number of cows going to slaughter was 58 per cent of the national herd, and that raised concerns about the impact on the national herd.
Senior Market Analyst for Animal Protein with Rabobank Angus Gidley-Baird said while it's partly a reflection of the time of the year, it's also a sign of the impact of the high female kill.
"We have been eating into that female herd and we're starting to run out of numbers," he said.
"You can see the male slaughter for most of this year has been down on last year's numbers.
"With the increase volume of females it was inevitable we'd reach a stage where we'd start running low on males, so maybe this is the point where that's starting to occur.
The Mecardo/ABS figures for the male cattle kill show seven per cent less going to slaughter this August compared to last.
Korean safeguard trigger
Australia is about to trigger the tariff safeguard for Australian imports.
The safeguard allows Korea to increase tariffs temporarily once imports exceed an agreed level under the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
The level for 2019 is 170,673 tonnes and when triggered the tariff for Australian products goes from 24 to 30 per cent until the end of the calendar year.
Meat & Livestock Australia said the higher tariff will impact the market, but in the short-term, the impact will be minor as it's a modest increase.
Mr Gidley-Baird said Australia does have strong competition for the Korean market from the US, but agrees the impact should be minimal.
"Given that it's later in the year we should be able to shuffle some of that volume to next year," he said.
But there are concerns tight domestic cattle supplies next year may limit Australia's ability to serve the Korean market.
"With an expected reduction in slaughter numbers we might have to work around that," Mr Gidley-Baird said.
"It's probably not such a bad thing at the moment to hold off some volume to next year.
"If we were increasing numbers it would probably become more of a challenge with the quota trigger."
MLA also believes the Korean consumer preference for Australian beef will remain unchanged.
As part of its market research MLA conducts an annual survey in Korea, which shows country of origin is important, as the country relies on imports for around 64 per cent of its beef.
The research has found that Australian beef is the most favoured of imported beef and is regarded as safest to eat.
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