Australian cattle on feed figures rise

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Numbers of WA cattle on feed has risen by 2.1 per cent to 53,454 head since March.
Camera IconNumbers of WA cattle on feed has risen by 2.1 per cent to 53,454 head since March. Credit: Bob Garnant

The number of Australian cattle on feed has defied unfavourable seasonal conditions and broken into new ground, the latest market data shows.

Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, in conjunction with Meat and Livestock Australia, revealed on Monday cattle on feed increased by 0.2 per cent last quarter, from April to June, to more than 1.1 million head.

It represented a 1830 head spike on the previous quarter.

WA’s figures rose by 1099 head, or 2.1 per cent, to 53,434 head while Victoria accounted for a 8.5 per cent increase, with the number of cattle on feed soaring by 5980 head to 76,552 compared to the March quarter.

WA Lot Feeding Association president Todd Fotheringhame said the State’s cattle numbers on feed would have risen because of the dry conditions, particularly from April to May.

“I would expect the next quarter review would have WA feedlot numbers taper off as grass-fed cattle opportunities arise,” he said.

Queensland and New South Wales experienced modest decreases in numbers on feed, down 0.1 per cent and 0.7 per cent from the December quarter, respectively, while South Australia had a 4.8 decrease to 47,747 head.

ALFA president Bryce Camm said that it was not unexpected to see cattle on feed again reach record levels given the prolonged poor conditions across cattle producing areas and the accelerated destocking rates seen.

“Cattle on feed has consistently been above 1 million head for the last 18 months reflecting the important role feedlots play in managing climate variability and delivering high-quality beef to our global customers,” he said.

“Feedlot capacity also continued to rise, reaching just over 1.3 million head this quarter.”

Mr Camm said the additional 81,000 head from year-ago levels reflected investor confidence and the strong demand signals for Australian high-quality grain-fed beef.

MLA senior market analyst Adam Cheetham noted producers faced ongoing challenging conditions combined with high supplementary feed costs.

However, he said demand for high-quality Australian grain-fed cattle from export markets remained robust.

“Grain-fed exports for the 2018-19 fiscal year totalled 311,986 tonnes shipped weight, easily surpassing the record established in the 2017-18 fiscal year,” he said.

“For the June quarter, major volume gains were experienced into China, up 40 per cent and Korea, up 9 per cent, from year-ago levels.”

Mr Cheetham said this strong demand was reflected in the prices finished cattle received during the period with the Queensland 100-day grain fed steer over-the-hook indicator improving by 10 per cent, or 5¢, year-on-year in the June quarter to average 572/kg carcase weight.

The cattle feed statistics come as MLA last week reported Australian adult cattle slaughter this year’s forecast had been revised to increase 3 per cent year on year to 8.1 million head.

Separately, ALFA is seeking nominations for its directly elected board of directors after distributing nomination forms to its members.

The national cattle feedlot industry body requires candidates to be nominated by a current financial member, proposed by a member and seconded by another member.

Nominations are due by August 28 and will be put forward for election at ALFA’s annual general meeting at Dalby in Queensland on October 4.

The search to fill its board vacancies comes as Dairy Australia also calls for nominations.

Dairy Australia announced nominations for three board of directors positions on Monday, with the nominees to stand for election at its annual general meeting in November.

Sydney-based chartered accountant Josephine Rozman, Bega Cheese non-executive director Jeff Odgers and researcher Paul Wood were all nominated for the positions.

Dairy Australia board selection committee chairman David Lord said the trio boasted a “broad set of skills and experience” to support farmers and industry sustainability.

The organisation’s board selection committee is still accepting nominations, with the application period closing on August 30.

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