Dry forces beef slaugh­ter up

Shepparton News - Country News - - LIVESTOCK -

On­go­ing drought and a poor rain­fall outlook has seen 2018 Aus­tralian beef pro­duc­tion fore­cast to fin­ish six per cent up on 2017 at 2.3 mil­lion tonnes car­case weight.

That is ac­cord­ing to Meat & Live­stock Aus­tralia’s Cat­tle In­dus­try Pro­jec­tions Oc­to­ber up­date, which said the in­crease was be­cause of el­e­vated lev­els of adult cat­tle slaugh­ter through­out win­ter and early spring.

Aus­tralia’s na­tional adult cat­tle slaugh­ter for 2018 is ex­pected to reach 7.8 mil­lion head, nine per cent higher than 2017.

MLA’s mar­ket in­tel­li­gence man­ager Scott Tolmie said while Oc­to­ber brought use­ful, though not drought-break­ing, rain to parts of the east­ern states and re­stored some con­fi­dence to the store cat­tle mar­ket, wide­spread fol­low-up rain is needed for any last­ing ben­e­fit to pas­tures and crops.

‘‘De­spite poor prospects for pas­tures en­ter­ing into 2019, slaugh­ter num­bers will be­gin to be con­strained by a shrink­ing pool of avail­able cat­tle,’’ Mr Tolmie said.

‘‘The fe­male slaugh­ter rate has risen to lev­els not seen since the last drought in 2015, though no­tably, this time off a lower base herd, which will have reper­cus­sions for cat­tle sup­ply and pro­duc­tion in com­ing years.

‘‘Typ­i­cally, the Aus­tralian cat­tle herd con­tracts when the pro­por­tion of fe­male slaugh­ter ex­ceeds 47 per cent of to­tal slaugh­ter — a thresh­old first sur­passed in May.’’

Mr Tolmie said the start of the north­ern wet sea­son marked a piv­otal time, es­pe­cially this year.

‘‘In 2018, the East­ern Young Cat­tle In­di­ca­tor has traded at a dis­count to the fin­ished mar­ket since April, as wors­en­ing sea­sonal con­di­tions de­ter re­stocker buy­ers,’’ he said.

‘‘More re­cently, rain­fall in some key east­ern pro­duc­tion re­gions saw the EYCI break through the 510¢/kg car­case weight mark on Oc­to­ber 17.’’

Look­ing for­ward, fol­low-up rain could see de­mand for young cat­tle spike, par­tic­u­larly fe­males.

‘‘How­ever, the con­tin­u­a­tion of dry con­di­tions or just ‘one-off’ rain­fall events would likely see an­other wave of de­stock­ing, es­pe­cially in the north, plac­ing fur­ther down­ward pres­sure on prices,’’ Mr Tolmie said.

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