The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released preliminary Australian cattle herd estimates following the five-yearly Agricultural Census conducted in June.
The data suggests the Australian beef cattle herd grew by 9 percent in the year to June 30, reaching 26.2 million head.
The larger national herd was driven by the southern and eastern states, while WA and the NT recorded lower numbers.
Queensland had the largest cattle herd growth, 13pc larger than the previous year, at 12.8 million head, driven by back-to-back strong seasonal conditions.
NSW numbers lifted 7pc year-on-year to 5.8m head, the ABS survey suggested, while Victoria’s herd rose 10pc, to 4.0m.
While the data released is only preliminary, there is an obvious area for closer scrutiny in a questionable figure of +24pc in beef cattle herd numbers recorded for South Australia, which ABS now puts at 1.3m head, while Tasmania recorded a 9pc rise to 700,000 head.
Likely due to the drought event and regional-level market difficulties, WA’s cattle numbers fell 9pc to 2.1m head according to the census data, while the NT herd was back 2pc, to 2.0m.
For the first time since 2004, the Australian sheep flock increased compared with the previous year. According to the ABS results, the national flock grew 9pc in the year to 30 June, to 74.3 million head.
The response rate for the preliminary results from the 2011 Census was 79pc, from 163,000 agricultural businesses, ABS reported.
Additional commodity estimates, and possibly revisions to these figures from the 2011 Agricultural Census will be published by the ABS in June next year. The final data will include additional information for regional geographies and Natural Resource Management regions.
The information collected from the farming community via the June Agricultural Census will play a vital role in supporting the development and monitoring of Australia's agricultural, natural resource and water policies, an ABS statement said.