Cattle on feed for the April to June 2021 quarter increased to 1,173,652 head, a 168,617 head increase from March, according to the latest results of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) survey.
Queensland accounted for a large proportion of the increase in cattle numbers on feed, increasing by 166,381 head, or 30.7% to 708,557 head.
New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia recorded modest increases in cattle numbers on feed. New South Wales increased by 12,758 head, or 4.1% to 324,715 head, Victoria increased by 7,433 head, or 12.9% to 65,027 head and South Australia increased by 477 head, or 1.3% to 37,003 head.
Western Australia was the only state to record a decrease in cattle numbers on feed, decreasing by 18,432, or 32.5%, to 38,350 head, in line with seasonal trends.
ALFA President, Bryce Camm, said the lift in cattle on feed was reflective of the role the feedlot sector is playing in beef production even during uncertain market conditions.
“In an operating environment disrupted by COVID-19 and influenced heavily by herd rebuilding supply and demand dynamics, the feedlot sector continues to provide production certainty that’s attractive to brand owners and supply chains.”
“Of note, Queensland cattle on feed increased significantly from the previous quarter to 708,557 head, a 30% increase for the quarter; much of which was in yards with a capacity of 10,000 head or greater.”
“The fundamental driver is the desire of supply chains to provide consistent quality and supply to their customers 24 hours, 365 days a year, and feedlots facilitate this by providing production certainly in what is otherwise currently an unpredictable market, he said.
Steve Bignell, MLA Market Information Manager, said lot feeders continued to see strong market signals for finished cattle during the quarter.
“The Queensland 100-day grain fed steer over-the-hook (OTH) indicator continued to trade at elevated levels, averaging 677¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) in the June quarter. These signals continue to drive national feedlot utilisation which increased to 81% and above the 5-year June quarter average of 77%,” he said.
In the previous March quarter, more than 50% of beef production and domestic consumption was grainfed. Mr Bignell said that he expected that trend to be reflected in the production statistics due out on the 20th of August.
“In this national herd rebuild, when supply remains tight, feedlots are doing an amazing job at assuring continuity of product, both domestically and globally.”
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