Live Export

Export orders coming ‘thick and fast’ for NQ cattle

James Nason, 23/02/2024

The Port of Townsville


SEVERAL ships are expected to load medium to heavy weight cattle for Indonesia in Townsville over the next fortnight as Indonesian feedlots rush to fill the hole in supply created by seven weeks without 2024 import permits.

The month-long Ramadan religious festival, which involves fasting, praying, feasting with family and friends and giving to others, is the time of year when most beef is consumed in Indonesia.

It starts on March 10, leaving Indonesian feedlots who only received import permits for 2024 last Friday just a handful of weeks to build up numbers on feed ahead of the peak demand period.

As a result they are seeking heavier steers and heifers than normal to ensure they have adequate stock at suitable market weights at the right time.

While it is wet across the north, Queensland is the preference for cattle at the moment largely because there are more numbers readily available and cattle have the weight Indonesian customers are looking for.

Several orders have appeared online (see Beef Central’s cattle listings and current orders page here) for medium to heavy steers (380-580kg) to be delivered to Charters Towers at various dates before March 11.

Most orders appear to have medium steers priced at 310c/kg and medium heifers at 270c/kg.

Matthew Kennedy from Kennedy Rural said while demand is mostly for medium and heavier steers, some feeder steers and heifers are also selling as well.

Matthew Kennedy

Posted orders list current prices for feeder cattle delivered to Charters Towers at 330c/kg for steers and 280c/kg for heifers.

With two boats currently booked to export cattle from Darwin to Indonesia in March, some Queensland feeder steers and heifers are also being sold for delivery to the export yards at Cloncurry to help fill those orders, Mr Kennedy said.

Quotes prices for feeder steers ex-Darwin have also lifted since permits were issued last Friday, rising into the 340-350c/kg range this week.

NQ ‘full of cattle’

With orders coming “thick and fast” for medium to heavy steers for export from Townsville over the next few weeks, Mr Kennedy said there were suitable numbers of cattle available.

Rain was the major factor which could have a bearing on supply.

“There are plenty of cattle around, and there are a lot of cattle did not get sold last year,” he said.

“North Queensland is full of cattle, and we have got plenty to go, just getting them out can be a different story if you get a shower of rain overnight.”

Skin lesion rejections still an issue

The trade to Indonesia has only been back up and running for a week, but it is already clear the skin-lesion issue that frustrated many producers supplying the trade last year has not yet been resolved.

Cattle with skin markings of almost any kind became a highly sensitive topic last year after the Indonesian Government announced it had detected lumpy skin disease in Australian cattle following their arrival in Indonesia.

Subsequent testing detected no trace of LSD in cattle in Australia, but throughout the second half of last year many cattle were still rejected from export orders to Indonesia if they were found to have markings on their hide, despite scars from bumps, scrapes and fly bites being a regular occurrence in the north and having no bearing on disease status.

Mr Kennedy said that following the wet season a number of cattle were coming in with scars from fly bites, which had been resulting in anywhere from 5 percent to 40 percent in some cases of cattle being knocked out of orders.


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