Record cattle turn-off continues

12 Oct, 2015 11:00 AM
The proportion of females processed has accounted for 51 per cent of the total adult cattle kill

FOR the second year running, 36 per cent of the Australian cattle herd is being turned off Australian farms and stations - an unprecedented liquidation of stock that will have consequences for years to come.

In its fourth-quarter update to its 2015 projections, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) confirmed that this year will join 2014 in the history books for rapid depletion of herd numbers.

The 10-year average ratio of stock turned off against the size of the herd is 31 per cent, MLA calculated.

Turning off 36 per cent for two years running will be felt by the beef industry in 2017, when national turn-off “is estimated to account for just 30 per cent of the starting herd (26.1 million head), resulting in a significant adjustment for the industry in terms of the numbers available for live export and processing”.

The current turn-off notably includes a high proportion of females.

About 3.2 million cows and heifers were slaughtered in the first seven months of 2015, up 26 per cent on the five-year average.

“In turn, this means the proportion of females processed has accounted for 51 per cent of the total adult cattle kill – up considerably from the 10-year average of 47 per cent,” MLA reported.

“This will ultimately lead to fewer calves and lower beef production for the duration of the projection period (2015-2020).”

The ongoing slaughter has contributed to another bulge in beef exports.

Total exports are currently 39,000 tonnes ahead of the same time last year, but MLA expects the contraction in slaughter numbers and the United States slowdown to put the brakes on.

Exports for 2015 are now expected to total 1.24 million tonnes, less than 2014 but still the second-largest export volume on record.

Domestically, beef consumption is falling as prices climb.

However, MLA estimates that a nine per cent year-on-year increase in weighted average Australian retail beef prices ($16.78/kg) was enough to offset the fall in consumption over that period, with average expenditure on beef holding steady at $330.66 per person.

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23/05/2016 1:57:38 PM

i love the land
13/10/2015 9:43:18 AM

Next MLA will tell us that we have put another $25mil into Indonesian ports and abattoirs to help us sell our product. Mmmmm I mustn't understand the old chestnut about supply and demand. I guess we should hang on to old cows when prices are good and the season is questionable. Is that the business model we should follow.
John Michelmore
13/10/2015 7:33:17 AM

Adoption of the Seven Senate recommendation by Minister Joyce would reduce the problems in the cattle industry, but it seems Joyce knows better than the Senate. One really has to ask what is going on in his department. The MLA marketing levy for beef is a joke, it achieves little, cattle prices are controlled by government policy, exchange rates and the weather. Philip, it's easy really. The NLIS data base would tell them how many cattle there are, OK don't jump down my throat, its a joke.
Philip Downie
12/10/2015 2:22:05 PM

The only issue here is that the actual size of the cattle herd that is used is a guess at best.
angry australian
12/10/2015 11:08:15 AM

.... in the mean while Matthew, the MLA charges producers a fortune to promote beef. Your article points out "Domestically, beef consumption is falling as prices climb." I would say that's debatable, for domestic consumption of red meat has been falling for some time, price appears irrelevant. When will Government and farming organisations hold the MLA accountable for its multi million dollar budget and what I would say is just an ordinary, at best, performance


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Sorry did i get it wrong..? Rankins Springs is still open..?!
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No doubt a few frosted Freddies out there who will wish they had taken a closer look at the AGC
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Matthew, I was wondering if you had followed up this story with the farmer after the whole