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Feedlot sector reaches record numbers on feed

  • Australia's latest feedlot survey results reveal an increase in cattle on feed to 1,294,531 head in the December quarter, marking a record high.

  • While numbers in NSW, SA, and WA surged, Queensland and Victorian figures declined over the quarter.

  • National capacity rose by 1.1% to 1.59 million head, with utilisation rates increasing to 81.2% in Q4 2023, driven by a fifth consecutive lift in feedlot capacity.


Australia’s latest feedlot survey results, published by the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), show numbers of cattle on feed increasing moderately to 1,294,531 head in the December quarter, the largest quarterly number on record.


Numbers on feed in NSW, SA and WA rose by 7.3%, 14.7% and 92.6% respectively, while Queensland and Victorian numbers dropped 3.1%, and 2.2% across the quarter.


ALFA President, Barb Madden, said lifts to numbers on feed are reflective of the availability of feeder cattle during late spring and early summer 2023.


“Adjustments seen in WA reflect the seasonal nature of the western lot feeding system, which traditionally peak in the first and last quarter of the year," Mrs Madden said.

National capacity increased by 1.1% to 1.59 million head. Utilisation rates rose by 1%, to 81.2% in the December quarter. This is the fifth consecutive lift to feedlot capacity, leading to record capacity for the sector.


Erin Lukey, MLA’s Senior Market Information Analyst, said grain fed export figures finished positively to close out the year.


“We’ve seen quarter-on-quarter exports up 18% year-on-year, helping to achieve an 8% lift in 2023 calendar year grain fed meat export volume," Ms Lukey said.


“It is encouraging to see grain fed exports grow over the year with exports relatively stable in the first half of the year then lifting in in the latter part of the year Q3 and Q4.” 


Looking to supply, feedlot cattle buyers were met with a sustained supply of feeder cattle into the last quarter of 2023.


“Despite supply of feeder cattle through saleyards dipping by 0.9% in Q4, annual throughput was up 9% in 2023," Ms Lukey said.


“The largest lift in supply was seen through NSW and WA where annual feeder throughput lifted 32% and 21% respectively, which reflects the increased numbers on feed in these states."


Media Enquiries: Jack Johnston MLA Corporate Affairs and Media Manager 0407 282 971 Barb Madden ALFA President (02) 9290 3700


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