Weather gods to aid herd rebuild

Zach RelphCountryman
Muchea Livestock Centre.
Camera IconMuchea Livestock Centre. Credit: Danella Bevis

New analysis shows favourable weather will help the nation’s depleted cattle herd rebound towards 27 million head within three years.

Last month, Meat and Livestock Australia revised the country’s cattle total to reach 24.8 million head from June 30 this year before entering a rebuild phase.

The projection was based on improving weather conditions prompting cattle farmers to increase herd numbers.

Using the data, Mecardo analyst Angus Brown has forecast the national herd to hit almost 27m head by 2023.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


“The improved seasonal conditions have seen herd levels revised from 1.8 per cent to 2.5 per cent higher,” he said.

“Despite the higher herd projections, we are still set for a 27-year low for the herd this year.

“It is also expected to take until 2022 to get back to the herd levels of last year, and even in 2023, it won’t quite be back to 27m head.”

The tight cattle supply is expected to underpin strong cattle prices.

However, Mr Brown said it was uncertain if demand would remain high. He said cattle slaughter was set to stay tight in 2022, under 7.5m head, and approach 8m head per year by 2023.

Mr Brown said a faster herd rebuild would only be achieved if fewer cattle were sent to slaughter.

“MLA have adjusted cattle slaughter down in all projection years except 2023,” he said.

“The biggest declines are expected this year and next, with projected slaughter down 4.2 per cent.

“This year cattle slaughter is expected to be 6.9m head — a 24-year low.

“A new low water mark is forecast for 2023, with 6.8 million head the lowest since 1989.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails