Cattle numbers on feed decline

08 November 2016

Cattle on feed for the September 2016 quarter have declined 122,094 head or 13% from the June quarter, down to 788,873 head, according to the results of the ALFA/MLA quarterly survey. 

Decreased numbers on feed were seen in all states, with South Australia experiencing the biggest percentage drop (42%), to 9,757 head. Grainfed numbers in Queensland, the largest beef producing state, also declined (10% or 53,249 head), to 461,839 head.

ALFA President, Tess Herbert said that the results from the September survey indicated the impact the cattle prices have had on feedlot numbers.

“The September survey has shown a further drop on June quarter, given current market conditions,” Ms Herbert said. “The approach taken by feedlotters to existing market circumstances shows an acknowledgment of the strategic risks that face our industry and an ability to address those.”

Ben Thomas, MLA’s Manager of Market Information, also said that with the prices of feeder cattle being driven up, it has ultimately impacted on the numbers on feed.

“The domestic paddock feeder steer indicator averaged 368.89¢/kg lwt for the September quarter – up 24% year-on-year and 19% higher than the June quarter,” Mr Thomas said. “Similarly, the national saleyard feeder steer indicator averaged 375.68¢/kg lwt, up 20% year-on-year and was 18% higher than the previous quarter.”

Mr Thomas said that restockers have been driving the market for young and store cattle due to widespread rain across much of the eastern states during the September quarter, “This has provided strong competition for feeder buyers and has pushed prices to record levels.”

The continuing lower grain prices, however, continue to partially offset the high cattle prices, and are anticipated to remain low on the back of high global grain supplies.

“Domestic grain prices for the quarter were lower than 2015 levels, with wheat ex-Darling Downs averaging $235.72/tonne, back 28%, while barley eased 26% to $220.95/tonne. Riverina wheat prices eased 19% year-on-year, to $233.18/tonne for the quarter, while barley slipped 34% to $178.20/tonne,” Mr Thomas said.

Fodder prices have followed a similar trend, with Darling Downs cereal and lucerne fodder easing 20% and 13%, to $250/tonne and $360/tonne, respectively.


For more information:


Tess Herbert
President – ALFA Manager
P: (02) 6859 2784

Ben Thomas
Market Information – MLA
P: (02) 9463 9283