National herd could be in position to expand for first time in three years

Zach RelphCountryman
MLA initially flagged a herd rebuild was on the horizon earlier this month.
Camera IconMLA initially flagged a herd rebuild was on the horizon earlier this month. Credit: Danella Bevis/Danella Bevis

Australian cattle producers are in a position to seriously consider entering the national herd into a rebuilding phase for the first time in three years, a new forecast has found.

Meat and Livestock Australia’s latest cattle projections has reported many farmers could opt to add to their depleted herds, particularly across southern Queensland and New South Wales, for the first time since 2017.

The findings, released this morning, acknowledged significant rainfall across the Eastern States since February has fuelled the prospect of a national herd rebuild.

“From a cattle supply perspective, the impact of improved conditions on producer intentions is anticipated to see cattle turn-off decline to the lowest point since the mid-1990s and remain at historically low levels for the next two years,” MLA senior market analyst Adam Cheetham said.

“The flow-on effect of a sharp contraction in adult cattle slaughter has seen a decline of 16 per cent in the national beef production forecast to 2.05 million tonnes carcase weight with increasing carcase weights only offsetting some of the decline in slaughter.

“National adult carcase weights are forecast to lift 10.4kg to average 294kg/head in 2020, driven by an improvement in feed, lower stocking rates and easing percentage of female slaughter.”

MLA forecast this year’s adult cattle slaughter to reach 6.9 million head, marking a 19 per cent drop on 2019.

Mr Cheetham initially flagged a herd rebuild was on the horizon earlier this month.

More in Thursday’s Countryman.

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