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Continued growth for lot feeding sector

The Australian lot feeding sector continues to play a crucial role in providing quality grain fed beef for domestic and international markets with numbers of cattle on feed increasing to 1.3 million head in the March quarter, according to a report published today by the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).


According to the latest MLA Lot Feeding Brief, this is the sixth consecutive lift to the number of cattle on feed, with the latest figure of 1,354,747 head breaking last quarter’s record high. This record has been supported by accompanying records in QLD and SA.


ALFA President, Barb Madden said that positive trading conditions over the first quarter of 2024 have been the largest driver of increased cattle entering feedlots.


“Quarterly averages of feed grain and feeder steer prices have provided for supportive market conditions for cattle placement in the lot feeding sector,” Mrs Madden said.


Total numbers on feed increased by 60,216 head, or 4.7% compared to December 2023 with QLD, VIC, SA and WA rising by 7%, 14.4%, 11.3% and 1.7% respectively, while NSW numbers dropped 2% across the quarter.


National capacity remained stable at 1.59 million head whilst utilisation rates rose by 4%, to 85% in the March quarter.


“Following increased utilisation, turnoff figures lifted 14% to 761,550 head with every state having higher turnoff quarter-on-quarter,” Mrs Madden concluded.


Erin Lukey, MLA’s Senior Market Information Analyst, said that the supply of feeder steers has been a factor influencing the numbers of cattle on feed.


“Throughput in MLA’s feeder steer indicator lifted 13% on last quarter, resulting in the largest throughput since March 2018,” said Ms Lukey.


“Individually, most states experienced lifts to feeder steer transactions, with only WA reducing their throughput when compared to last quarter and the corresponding quarter last year,” continued Ms Lukey.


"A softening of feed grain prices over the reporting period, paired with feeder prices remaining relatively low, have supported more desirable margins for lot feeders,” said Ms Lukey.


Australian grain-fed meat exports have remained stable for the first quarter of 2024, with 83,949 tonnes of Australian grain-fed beef exported. 


While quarter-on-quarter export numbers have remained level, grain fed beef export tonnages represented 30% of all beef exports during the quarter, up 2% from the previous reporting period.


"This trend is expected in the foreseeable future as current cattle on feed move through their feed programs.” said Ms Lukey.


The National Accredited Feedlot Survey is administered by Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and published each quarter. For historical reports visit




Media Enquiries:


Jack Johnston

MLA Corporate Affairs and Media Manager

0407 282 971


Barb Madden

ALFA President

(02) 9290 3700



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