National cattle numbers on feed were back marginally, down 3 percent in the June quarterly feedlot survey result released this afternoon.
Australian Lot Feeders Association vice president Tess Herbert said the result reflected the ongoing dry conditions which made it difficult for grassfed cattle operators to sustain numbers as well as heightened demand for Australian beef overseas.
“The slight decline in overall cattle numbers on feed compared to the previous quarter was largely driven by a 24pc decline in Western Australia along with higher grain, fodder and feeder cattle prices in NSW and south east Queensland,” she said.
“Feedgrain prices on the Darling Downs were up 13pc compared to the previous quarter, with fodder prices up 18pc, while yearling steers and heifers were up by 14 and 11pc respectively.”
“The improved turnoff result for the quarter (5pc) was particularly driven by the influx of cheaper drought-affected cattle more suited to the shortfed domestic trade, however the overall feedlot capacity utilisation result of 79pc continued to be strong compared to historical levels.”
Meat & Livestock Australia’s senior market analyst, Ben Thomas, said the strong demand for Australian beef led to a 10pc rise in grainfed beef exports for the 2013/14 year.
Importantly, the modest 4pc year-on-year decline in Japan was more than offset by a 6pc increase in South Korea (to 33,721 tonnes), 61pc to the US (to 5865t), greater than 200pc to China (to 21,833t), 55pc to the Middle East (to 10,944t) and 68pc to the European Union (to 14,663t).
“The onset of rain in some areas since the end of the June quarter and the ongoing strong demand for Australian beef augers well for the feedlot sector into the intermediate future,” Mrs Herbert said.