Weekly kill: Slaughter rates continue to climb, as year unfolds

Jon Condon, 28/02/2024

THE national slaughter statistics for the week ended Friday show last week was the largest adult cattle kill for the year so far, hitting 127,465 head.

Apart from a brief rush later last year due to dry conditions pushing extra cattle to market, it’s the biggest national kill seen since May 2020, when the last of the drought cycle was still driving cattle to market (the drought broke later in northern Australia than southern regions).

Queensland’s kill last week surged to 64,553 head, easily the largest this year, as new weekly shifts at some plants take effect, and other northern plants start to clear earlier supply blockages due to persistent rain.

New South Wales was one of the few states to record a decline, slipping 1500 head on the previous week to 32,406 head.

Victoria lifted sharply to 12,758 head, up more than 2800 head on the week before.

Female slaughter last week accounted for 46.8pc of overall kill – within a whisker of the 47pc tipping point signalling herd rebuilding or contraction.

Grids steady

Direct consignment grid prices are largely unchanged across eastern Australia this week, although processors report local challenges in getting bought stock to plants due to further weather disruptions in some areas.

Many processors are now tighter in forward supply than they have been for some weeks.

Following widespread 10c/kg drops in direct consignment rates across eastern Australia a fortnight ago, offer prices were unchanged again this week.

Competitive Queensland processors are this morning offering 500-510c/kg on heavy cows and 550c/kg on heavy grass four-tooth steers, with a pill. Central Queensland rates are the same or 10c behind that.

Further good rainfall across parts of Queensland over the past week is likely to delay the start of big runs of slaughter cattle out of Central and northwestern areas until after Easter, Beef Central was told.

Further south, direct consignment rates in southern states included southern NSW where heavy cows are quoted this week at 490c and steers 540c; and in eastern regions of South Australia, 500c on cows and 540c on bullocks – the same as last week.

A lift in the export grinding beef market over the past month (see last week’s report) has added some strength in demand for slaughter cows, and helped underpin margins on all slaughter categories via trimmings.

Queensland grainfed processors are currently offering forward contracts on 100-day cattle for May delivery, at 700c/kg.

With Easter this year appearing particularly early (week 13, Good Friday 29 March) there is already some thoughts about processing congestion due to consecutive holiday-shortened production weeks, followed by ANZAC day holiday only three weeks later.




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