Cattle on feed finished on a record high of 1,239,563 head for the October – December 2019 quarter, an increase of 120,234 head or 10.7%, according to the results of the latest Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) survey.
Increased numbers on feed were recorded in all states, with Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia having the largest gains. Queensland increased by 59,786 head, or 9%, to 720,055 head, while New South Wales increased by 27,743, or 8.6%, to 349,694 and Western Australia increased by 28,723 to 56,193 head, more than doubling the numbers on feed compared to the September quarter.
South Australia and Victoria experienced more modest increases with South Australia increasing by 3,779 head or 8.9%, to 46,367 head, while Victoria increased by 204 head to 67,255 head on feed.
ALFA President, Bryce Camm, said 2019 was another significant year for feedlot production which continue to play a leading role in managing seasonal variability and enabling the continued delivery of high-quality beef to our global customers.
“Cattle on feed has been above 1 million head during the past eight quarters, culminating with a historical all-time high exceeding 1.2 million and feedlot utilisation reaching 90% at the end of 2019,” Mr Camm said.
“The Feedlot industry continues to demonstrate the significant role it plays in helping supply chain business continuity in the face of persistent and widespread drought conditions,” Mr Camm said.
“Feedlots play an essential role helping Australian exporters meet demand for high quality Australian beef whilst supporting 1,800 jobs directly and a further 30,000 jobs indirectly in rural communities,” Mr Camm said.
Adam Cheetham, MLA’s Senior Market Analyst, said African Swine Fever (ASF) reshaped the global meat trade during 2019, with volumes diverted away from traditional markets to China to mitigate protein deficiencies caused by a reduction in domestic pork production.
“Australian grainfed exports totalled 82,520 tonnes shipped weight (swt) through the December quarter, an increase of 5% from year-ago levels and 2% higher than volumes in the September quarter.”
“Grainfed exports to China continued to climb, improving 61% year-on-year to 23,989 tonnes swt, up 20% from the previous quarter.”
“However, exports to Japan eased 10% from the same quarter last year to 33,565 tonnes swt, while grainfed exports to Korea fell 2% year-on-year to 14,168 tonnes swt,” Mr Cheetham said.