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Cattle remain above 1 million head three years in a row

Cattle on feed for the October to December 2020 quarter increased to 1,048,306 head, a 37,985 head increase from the September 2020 period, according to the latest results of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) survey.

Queensland recorded a decrease in cattle numbers on feed, however only fell by 2,972 head, or 0.5% to 588,692 head. All other states experienced increases with New South Wales increasing by 18,529 or 6.3%, to 314,281 head on feed, Victoria increased by 9,853, or 21.0%, to 56,816 head, South Australia increased by 4,213, or 11.1%, to 42,216 head and Western Australia increased by 8,364, or 22.0%, to 46,302 head.

ALFA President, Bryce Camm, said the Australian feedlot industry ended 2020 with cattle numbers on feed remaining above 1 million head, a result which has been achieved continuously each quarter for three consecutive years.

“2020 saw industry face unprecedented challenges ranging from COVID, the global recession, bushfires, floods, tightening cattle supply and a turnaround in seasonal conditions across Australia,” Mr Camm said.

“Yet despite these challenges Lot Feeders have kept the supply chain moving with our industry partners by continuing to focus on producing high quality grain fed beef,” Mr Camm said.

“Cattle on feed above 1 million head for three consecutive years demonstrates the significance feedlots play in the Australian beef supply chain,” Mr Camm said.

Steve Bignell, MLA’s Manager - Market Information, said that key feedlot indicators for the December quarter reached all-time records reflecting the market dynamics experienced last year.

“Strong signals for finished cattle saw the Queensland 100 day grainfed steer over-the-hook (OTH) indicator post a record December quarterly average of 669c/kg carcase weight (cwt), assisting Lot Feeders on the sell side.”

“Also boosting Lot Feeder’s confidence was a falling grain market off the back of an outstanding winter crop. Both wheat and barley prices fell to levels not experienced since 2017; hitting averages of $301 and 262 / tonne ex-Darling Downs respectively,” Mr Bignell said.

“On the feedlot entry side reduced cattle availability converging with heavy restocker and feedlot competition drove the national feeder steer indicator average to a record 420¢/kg live weight (lwt) for the quarter.”


Bryce Camm

President – ALFA

(02) 9290 3700

Josh McIntosh

Media Manager – MLA

(02) 9463 9198


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