Participation in producer survey holds key to better beef herd understanding

Jon Condon, 17/11/2023

Meat & Livestock Australia has this week launched its Beef Producer Intentions Survey, designed to provide greater insight into the size, shape and movement of the national beef herd.

The exercise will play a critical role in building knowledge about cattle numbers, herd composition and future direction – but healthy producer participation will be key.

Results will contribute to better industry forecasting outcomes, providing greater insights to allow industry to make good decisions at industry-wide, regional and herd level.

The survey has been initiated, in part, because of the cessation this year of the gathering of beef herd data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. ABS was unable to continue the series, because lack of producer participation made the results statistically unreliable.

There has been extensive industry dialogue over the past 12 months about the accuracy of reporting of Australia’s beef herd size, its trend, and dynamics.

Launched on Monday, the Beef Producer Intentions Survey will remain open until Wednesday, 13 December. Beef Central will publish a reminder a few days before the survey closes.

The online questionnaire takes no more than 10-15 minutes for cattle producers to fill-out – a very small time investment in helping deliver better industry insight and intelligence.

Outcomes will deliver valuable herd demographic data, sentiment insights and other vital herd profiling information on Australia’s cattle herd. Importantly it will also provide an indication of producers’ intentions over the next 12 months, and will for the first time break down the nation’s beef breeding herd by genetic background.

Sales channel numbers, at a category level, will also be surveyed, providing a gauge of expected grassfed export bullocks next year out of Queensland, for example.

All survey responses will remain confidential, with only aggregated results released to the public. The survey is not focussed on financial information, but specifically around building knowledge of herd numbers, composition, and changes. The information will be available at a national, state and herd-size level, creating a valuable industry resource.

Producers who complete the survey can elect to receive a benchmarking scorecard which will compare their own herd’s performance against similar producers in their state and of a similar herd size.

All beef producers paying grassfed levies are eligible to participate – not just MLA members.

The project has an ‘aspirational’ target of achieving at least 3000 producer responses from across Australia, in order to make the data reliable.

A similar annual survey has been conducted across the sheepmeat industry for at least the last ten years, with strong levels of participation. In fact the annual lamb survey engagement has exceeded expectations every year. Lamb and mutton producers clearly recognise the benefit to the entire industry of robust flock data.

National Livestock Reporting Service manager Ripley Atkinson said producers with diverse herd sizes were encouraged to participate.

“We’re trying to capture the scope of production of beef producers of all sizes – not just the large players,” he said.

Advertisements flagging the survey, and the importance of producer engagement, are running across the Beef Central platform this week.

Beef Central encourages all stakeholder groups and networks to flag the importance of the survey with fellow stakeholders. Providing this weblink explaining the project and survey access is a start –


Click this link to access the Beef Producer Intentions Survey.










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