Cattle numbers on feed fall 11.6pc, as challenging trading conditions bite

Beef Central, 10/11/2022

NUMBERS of cattle on feed across Australia fell 11.6 percent in the quarter ended 30 September, results from the latest grainfed industry survey released today show.

The quarterly results released today by the Australian Lot Feeders Association and Meat & Livestock Australia showed a decrease of 139,410 head on the previous June quarter, to just over 1.056 million head.

Each state recorded reductions except for South Australia.

Queensland numbers decreased by 11.6pc to 626,125 head, New South Wales by 8.8pc to 305,554 head, Victoria by 26.4pc to 45,135 head and Western Australia by 26.4pc to 40,406 head.

The outlier, South Australia, increased by 7.6pc to 38,836 head.

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Australian Lot Feeders Association president Barb Madden said the feedlot industry was currently operating in challenging trading conditions which is reflected in the reduction of cattle on feed.

“Transport and logistics, high grain prices and cattle availability, coupled with persistent wet weather events hampering cattle performance, are all contributing to what is a challenging trading environment for the feedlot industry,” Mrs Madden said.

“While we have seen some relief in feeder cattle prices this quarter, with the NLRS feeder steer indicator down 9pc or 48¢/kg liveweight in the past two months, and wheat ex-Darling Downs softened 6pc or $23/t to average $389/t on the Ukraine war-inflated highs of the June quarter, wheat prices remain 16pc or $55/tonne higher, on year ago levels.

“Despite these challenges it is pleasing to see cattle on feed remain above one million head, pointing to the resilience of lotfeeders,” Mrs Madden said.

In a sign of longer-term confidence in the grainfed sector, national feedlot capacity broke new ground to reach 1.51 million head.

“This is despite significant headwinds in input cost challenges and extreme weather events like the recent floods, affecting cattle performance,” MLA’s senior market information analyst Ripley Atkinson said.

Grainfed turn-off saw a solid uptick last quarter, rising by 7pc or 46,400 head at a national level to 714,000 head, demonstrating the significant contribution of the grain fed sector to total beef production.

This has translated to strong export demand, according to Mr Atkinson, with strong improvements in volumes to South Korea and China in particular.

“Export volumes mostly remained firm quarter-on-quarter, continuing the trend of strong export performance to a diverse range of markets reflecting solid demand for Australian grain fed beef,” he said.






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