Beef slaughter rates hit 39-month high

Beef Central, 06/09/2023

RATES of national adult cattle slaughter hit a 39-month high last week, reaching 127,377 head.

Not since May 2020, at the tail end of the 2019-20 drought, has Australia’s weekly cattle slaughter been this high.

National Livestock Reporting Service data released this morning shows that last week’s national tally (week 36) was 34,700 head or 37 percent higher than the same week last year, and 26pc higher than the same week in 2021. Refer to Beef Central’s home page “Industry Dashboard” graphs.  

The weekly NLRS report does not account for an estimated 12-15pc of kill activity where processor operators choose not to contribute data.

Queensland showed a sharp rise in production last week, lifting to a season-high tally of 67,829 head, rising 11pc on throughput seen only two weeks earlier, and 18,400 head or 37pc higher than this week last year.

Female slaughter percentage in Queensland was at 37.9pc – again above the 37pc ‘tipping point’ between herd contraction and expansion.

NSW kills last week were more or less unchanged from the two weeks before, at 31,523 head, while Victoria recorded its second largest kill this year at 15,572 head.

Earlier this year, there was widespread speculation that 2023 weekly national slaughter might struggle to exceed 115,000 head per week, given constraints in processing labour availability.

That theory held true for the next five or six months, but nobody back then anticipated the extent of deterioration in grazing conditions across Eastern Australia that has occurred since July.

Cattle turnoff has escalated rapidly since mid-year, especially in Queensland and NSW.

Recent expansion in slaughter numbers is in part due to Saturday shifts being rostered at several large eastern states plants, to try to relieve some of the supply congestion.






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