CATTLE numbers on feed in Australian feedlots remained at near-record levels, falling less than 1pc in the quarter ended June 30 to 956,927 head.
As the graph above shows, there has been a steady progression in numbers on feed since 2008, when numbers fell briefly below 600,000 head. Expanding export and domestic demand for grainfed beef, coupled with the drought event over the past two years have combined to drive numbers on feed to recent record highs.
Australian Lot Feeders Association president Don Mackay said the June quarter result reflected the ongoing dry conditions, in particularly Queensland, which made it difficult for grassfed cattle operators to sustain numbers. Coupled with this was continued strong demand for Australian beef overseas.
As portrayed in the survey report (Click here to access) small declines were experienced in every feedlot state except Queensland and Victoria for the June quarter, while nationwide feedlot capacity utilisation, at 82pc, remained extremely high.
“Strong international demand, as well as some rain across the eastern states, saw feeder and grain fed cattle prices record robust growth during the June quarter,” Mr Mackay said.
“Saleyard feeder steer (330-400kg liveweight, C2) prices averaged 262¢ during the quarter (up 37pc year-on-year), while the eastern states domestic paddock feeder steer indicator (280-350kg) averaged 255¢ over the three months (up 31pc year-on-year).”
“Darling Downs grain trended cheaper year-on-year but was dearer than the previous quarter. Barley averaged $318/t during the quarter, back 8pc year-on-year, sorghum averaged $302/t, back 4pc, while wheat averaged $325/t, back 11pc.”
Meat & Livestock Australia’s operations manager for the National Livestock Reporting Service, Damon Holmes, said that 2014/15 grainfed beef exports were up 15pc (to 250,954t swt) compared to the previous financial year.
Japan (up 24pc to 143,686t) continued to be the dominant export market for grain fed beef for 2014/15 with 57pc of exports directed there, Mr Holmes said.
The second largest grainfed beef export market was South Korea (up 11pc to 37,500t) followed by the EU (up 13pc to 16,500t), the US (up by 133pc to 13,700t) and China (down by 40pc to 13,000t).
“Shipments of grainfed beef during the June quarter were the highest on record, with almost 66,000t exported over the three months, up 23pc year-on-year and above the 2006 peak of just over 61,000t,” Mr Holmes said.