Weekly kill: Six-figure processing tallies remain stubbornly out of reach

Jon Condon, 07/06/2022

Week 24 of Australia’s 2022 beef processing season, and the national 100,000 head weekly slaughter milestone remains stubbornly out of reach for the beef industry.

The week ended Friday produced a national kill of 96,772 head, much the same as the week before, but still a fair way from kills seen last year, and a mile distant from the 130,000+ weekly kills being recorded in May 2020.

Queensland’s kill last week remained below 50,000 head, as it has all year so far. The state’s seven-day total of 49,313 head was down 1.2pc on the previous week.

NSW numbers lifted 2pc on the previous week to 26,183 head, while Victoria and Tasmania were steady at 11,628 head and 4468 head respectively.

Weekly kills in South Australia last week eased 2pc to 3158 head, while Western Australia continued its recent rapid seasonal decline, falling another 6pc to 2022 head.

Low rates of female continue to hamper beef production, as the national beef herd continues to recover from drought, with last week recording a female kill ratio of 39pc. The figure has exceeded 40pc only three or four times over the past three months.

Processors also continue to face staffing issues – both localised cases of COVID  and everyday flu – which are keeping some staff from work, adding to the impact of the overarching lack of labour available to the industry this year (see yesterday’s report).

That has tended to keep daily kill rosters to moderate levels, and appears to be reasonably closely aligned with available cattle supply at present.

Grid offers largely unchanged

Direct consignment processor offers maintained their remarkably consistent cycle for another week this week. There’s been little substantive change in grid prices now since a 30c/kg reduction in typical prices in the lead-up to Easter – nine weeks ago.

With big inflows of grainfed cattle now hitting the market, several large processors said they were reasonably well covered out to week commencing 22 June. One operator said he was as far forward on supply as his business had been for a very long time.  Lower rates of kill, partly due to staff health issues expressed above, was contributing to that.

In southern Queensland, grids seen this morning have best offers for heavy grassfed four-tooth steer at 775c/kg (780c in one case for HGP-free, or 770c implanted), and 715-720c/kg for heavy slaughter cow. In southern states, best heavy cows are making 720c/kg this week, with heavy four-tooth PR steers around 790c – not far off Queensland rates.






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