Cattle on feed numbers in southern states on rise while Queensland numbers tumble
- From: The Weekly Times
- February 20, 2014
SOUTHERN Australian feedlots are fuller than they were a year ago.
The increased numbers in feedlots in NSW, South Australia and Victoria offset a fall in Australia’s major lotfeeding state, Queensland.
There's a lag in the reporting times, with the figures recently released showing capacity for the quarter ending December last year.
But those figures show the drought in Queensland and the drought-induced hike in feed prices had pushed feedlot numbers in that state down.
At the end of December, there were 476,033 cattle on feed in Queensland, down 5.5 per cent on the end of August numbers.
Australian Lot Feeders Association president Don Mackay said drought was the key factor for the fall.
“Dry conditions increased grain and roughage prices while also negatively impacting upon the quality and quantity of suitable feeder cattle,” Mr Mackay said.
In contrast, feedlot use in Victoria, NSW and South Australia all rose.
At December last year, Victorian feedlotters had 49,050 cattle on feed, compared with 40,000 a year earlier.
NSW feedlots also had more on feed — 245,000 compared with 221,000.
Mr Mackay said feedlots provided an avenue for finishing cattle when seasonal conditions tightened, and southern producers were taking advantage.
And while traditional beef markets of Japan and South Korea took less grain-fed product last year, other markets were more than picking up the slack, according to Meat and Livestock Australia’s chief economist Tim McRae.
“Grain-fed exports were up 10 per cent for the calendar year with declines in Japan and Korea offset by significant increases to most other markets including China, the Middle East and the European Union,” Mr McRae said.
Last year, Japan took 116,383 tonnes of grain-fed beef while South Korea took 31,020 tonnes.
But China's take increased fivefold, to 20,531 tonnes of grain-fed product, the EU took 11,502 tonnes and the Middle East 10,443 tonnes, to round out Australia's major customer base for grain-fed beef.