Beef kill returns to more normal levels, after a slow week in Qld

Jon Condon, 27/08/2013


The Eastern States beef kill rose last week, but the biggest influence – an 11 percent rise in processing activity in Queensland – masked earlier public holiday intrusions.

A number of plants in southeast Queensland missed a day the previous week due to Brisbane Show holidays, meaning last week’s rising kill trend looked more substantial than it really was.

Take just two of the plants impacted – JBS Australia Dinmore (3400 head/day) and Australian Country Choice Cannon Hill (1100/day) and it’s easy to see where the state’s kill ‘leakage’ happened the previous week.

The 2.9pc rise in the national kill last week did little more than restore the numbers to where they sat before the northern holiday effect.

Queensland’s kill last week of 81,422 head was still 22pc above where it sat this time last year, showing that the high rate of kill brought on by the drought over the past six months is yet to show any real signs of abating.

Southern states, however, were mostly back in numbers, due to a combination of widespread and in places heavy earlier rain, and normal winter season plant closures.

The NSW kill of 33,589 head was -8pc last week, as plants like Nippon Australia Wingham and Throsby at Singleton shut for their customary low-season fortnight break. Even with the drop, NSW last week remained 6pc above last year.

Victoria was also in negative territory, dropping 3pc last week to 22,775, which may have been more rain cattle access-related. South Australia improved 6pc from a low number the previous week, to record a tally of 7501 for the week, while Tasmania may also have been rain affected, dropping 12pc to 3276.  

The slowing trend in southern states was highlighted by the fact that Queensland accounted for almost 55pc of the total Eastern States kill last week.


Qld grid prices produce lift

Some processors in Queensland are starting to show signs of shortening-up on cattle supply, with further 5c/kg price rises for grass and grain in two large southeast Queensland processor grids over the past seven days. Another multi-site processor has left rates unchanged, having a good booking of cattle already locked in for this week and next, but they may have to follow suit in coming days in order to secure supply.

The latest 5c/kg rise comes on top of a further 5c/kg lift the previous week in some grids. The best money Beef Central could find yesterday ex Southern Queensland was 320c/kg for four-tooth grassfed ox, 325c for 0-2 tooth, and 270-280c/kg for best cow. That’s the best cow money we’ve seen since the drought-impacted price decline started back in March, as room starts to again open-up in kills after coming under earlier heavy supply pressure.

Grainfed supply continues in abundance for both 70-day and 100-day cattle, due to heavy feedlot intakes three to four months ago. This was reflected in the recent ALFA quarterly feedlot survey which showed numbers on feed at June 30 at seven-year highs, of 873,000 head.

Oats-finished cattle out of southern Queensland and central/northern NSW are not coming forward in big numbers at this stage, and there’s no great expectation among processors of a flood of oats cattle over the next month.

“They’re not in big enough numbers, and look like being spread-out enough to have no real impact on the market this year,” one processor contact said.

Southern grids are still 10-15c/kg better than Queensland due to seasonal supply, but southern cattle numbers are likely to start to improve as conditions warm up, suggesting the price differential might start to narrow soon.




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