CATTLE numbers on feed across Australia for the June quarter were little changed from March, although they continue at levels well above the longer-term average according to results generated from the latest ALFA/MLA survey released yesterday.
In a direct reflection of the prolonged drought, numbers on feed hit an all-time record of just short of one million head back in December, before easing 8.3pc in the March quarter to 915,000 head.
The most recent June report issued yesterday is back only another 0.43 percent, or less than 4000 head, to 910,967 head. However current grainfeeding activity is still well above long-term averages since about 2008, as can be seen in the graph below.
Australian Lot Feeders Association president Tess Herbert said high feeder cattle prices continued to be partly offset by the decrease in prices of feedstuffs.
“High global grain availability has resulted in lower feed grain prices this year, and lower fodder prices have been triggered by widespread rain,” Ms Herbert said.
In June quarter results, Queensland went against the southern states trend, lifting numbers by 20,000 head, or four percent since the March quarter. The biggest portion of that was seen in the smallest category, for feedlots less than 500 head, where numbers almost tripled to 17,000 head. Part of that may be explained by smaller opportunity yards activating yards to fill winter feed gaps, and cheaper grain prices.
Most other states were either stable, or showing normal seasonal decline, including Western Australia, back 9000 head or 23pc, and South Australia, down 32pc to 16,990 head. NSW feedlots were little changed in June, at 285,000 head, with Victoria also steady at 63,000 head.
Feeder prices skyrocket
The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator has continued to break existing records, reaching 659.25c/kg by the end of June, at the time the survey was taken. It has continued to soar since then, reaching a new record high of 720c/kg on Friday.
National Livestock Reporting Service operations manager Damon Holmes said feeder prices have been driven higher by increased competition from restockers, following the improvement in seasonal conditions.
“The eastern states domestic paddock feeder steer indicator averaged 311c/kg during the June quarter, up 56c/kg from 2015,” Mr Holmes said.
June quarter grainfed turnoff increased 3pc% year-on-year, achieving a total turnoff for 2015/16 of over 2.8 million head. The 5pc increase in grainfed beef exports produced another record statistic, with an additional 2974 tonnes shipped in the June 2016 quarter than in the corresponding period last year.
That’s resulted in the 2015/16 year reaching a record grainfed export volume of 268,504 tonnes, up 7pc year-on-year – 5500t higher than the previous record in 2006/07.
“Given the low turnoff in the first quarter, relative to the record high number on feed at the end of 2015, it is not surprising that there was a lift in grainfed cattle slaughter and a subsequent increase in grainfed exports in the June quarter,” Mr Holmes said.
“It appears a greater number of cattle were rolled-over into the second quarter.”
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