Cattle supplies to stay tight
CATTLE supplies are likely to remain tight in 2018 with only a small increase expected in adult slaughter to 7.4 million head as the herd rebuild continues, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s 2018 Cattle Industry Projections.
MLA’s market intelligence manager Scott Tolmie said the dry winter and spring across many parts of Australia saw a higher than expected turn-off in the second half of 2017, temporarily halting the herd rebuilding efforts of producers in affected areas.
“This has meant many young cattle were pushed into feedlots in 2017 due to lack of decent pasture – stock that otherwise would have been finished in the paddock and come to market in 2018,” Mr Tolmie said.
“This is part of the reason there is an expectation of tighter slaughter numbers than previously forecast in 2018, as these producers, particularly in Queensland, look to rekindle rebuilding efforts.
“If the three-month rainfall outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology comes to fruition for February to April, it is likely to see tight supplies in certain regions, particularly through the mid part of the year.”
Mr Tolmie said carcase weights were expected to ease back in line with long-term trends after a record year in 2017 when carcase weights averaged 298kg.
“An easing of carcase weights, combined with a forecast increase in slaughter, is expected to result in total beef production this year lifting 1 per cent to 2.17 million tonnes cwt,” Mr Tolmie said.
“That’s an increase on both 2016 and 2017 figures, but well down on the drought impacted levels of 20132015. Overall, the modest increase in slaughter is expected to more than outweigh the anticipated drop in carcase weights.”
Adrop in the number of cattle on feed is expected after a record year in 2017.
Mr Tolmie said 2018 was shaping up as a challenging year for Australian beef exports, with expected increases in production and exports.
LIVESTOCK MARKET: 2018 could be a tough year for cattle producers.