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Cattle on feed remains high despite tight supply

Cattle on feed numbers remain above 1 million despite a 54,559 drop in the July to September 2021 quarter to 1,119,093 head, according to the latest results of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) survey.

All states recorded a reduction of cattle on feed, compared to the June 2021 quarter.

Queensland decreased by 18,328 head, or 2.6% to 690,229 head, New South Wales decreased by 22,346 head, or 6.9% to 302,369 head and Victoria decreased by 3,693 head, or 5.7% to 61,334 head.

South Australia recorded a modest decrease in cattle numbers on feed, decreasing by 676 head, or 1.8% to 36,327 head.

The largest percentage decrease in cattle numbers on feed was recorded by Western Australia, decreasing by 9,516 head, or 24.8%, to 28,834 head.

Despite the numbers on feed falling on a quarter-by-quarter basis, there were 108,773 more cattle on feed nationally than there were in the September 2020 quarter.

ALFA President, Barb Madden, said it was pleasing to see the total number of cattle on feed remaining well above the 1 million mark and above year-on-year levels.

“Feedlots are operating at a utlisation rate above 75%. This reinforces that demand for grain fed beef remains steady despite herd rebuilding activity and an environment of tight cattle supply. National utilisation is 7% higher than September 2020 levels, demonstrating confidence in the production system in the face of continued tightening of supply,” Mrs Madden said.

“Turnoff of grain fed cattle for the quarter broke 700,000, reaching 708,371 – the highest level since March 2020. The high turn-off of grain fed cattle emphasises the importance of the feedlot sector in assisting brand owners continue to supply high-quality Australian beef.”

Steve Bignell, MLA Market Information Manager, said lot feeders continued to receive strong demand for finished cattle.

“The Queensland 100-day grain fed steer over-the-hook (OTH) indicator hit a new quarterly record in the September quarter, averaging 694¢/kg carcase weight (cwt).

“There are 10.8% more cattle on feed than there were at the same time last year, with Queensland and Victoria experiencing growth of 17% and 31% respectively.

“The industry is in a great position - OTH prices are at record levels, numbers on feed up for the year, and international demand remains strong” Mr Bignell said.


Barb Madden

ALFA President

P: (02) 9290 3700

Georgie Humphries

MLA Corporate Affairs and Media Manager

P: (02) 8055 1833 M: 0439 069 036

Q3 statistics:



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