Small Recovery in Feedlot Activity

The number of cattle on feed in Australian feedlots during the June quarter rose by 13.5 per cent compared to the previous quarter, despite continued high input cost and a robust Australian dollar, Meat and Livestock Australia analysts said.
calendar icon 22 July 2008
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Meat & Livestock Australia

According to the latest ALFA/MLA June quarter lotfeeding survey, cattle on feed totalled 685,756 head – the highest quarterly result for the past year, but still 21 per cent below June 2007 numbers (870,025 head).

Much of the rise can be attributed to a jump in the availability of cheaper feeder cattle, combined with a bumper northern summer sorghum harvest and resulting lower prices.

Drought conditions through the NT and western Queensland resulted in an influx of cattle suitable for feeding during the June quarter, with cattle on feed in Queensland increasing 30 per cent on the March quarter, to 358,704 head – still 16 per cent below the same period last year (427,993 head) and 29 per cent below the record high of 506,646 head registered in June 2006, MLA said.

Similarly, cattle on feed in NSW (227,150 head) and Victoria (42,814 head) increased 10 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, on March.

While the high operating cost, most notably grain and fuel prices, have forced feeding operations to significantly cuts numbers on feed over the past year, the high Australian dollar has also placed pressure upon the competitiveness of Australian grainfed beef on export markets.

Grainfed beef exports to the US, Japan and Korea in the June quarter were 53 per cent, 11 per cent and four per cent below the previous year. Cattle on feed for export markets remained 15 per cent down on the previous year as at the end of June, while those for the domestic market were 35 per cent lower.

Grainfed cattle turnoff for the June quarter increased 16% on March, to 518,494 head, but remained almost 20 per cent below the previous year. For the 2007-08 fiscal year, grainfed cattle turnoff declined 23 per cent, or 600,000 head, to 2.1 million head – the lowest since 2003-04.

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