Cattle on feed for the July – September 2017 quarter decreased 64,324 head, or 6% from the June quarter according to the results of the latest Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) survey.
Despite the decrease, the numbers on feed still remain over the million-mark, at 1,024,748 following the record breaking levels in the June quarter.
A decrease was observed across all states with Victoria seeing the biggest percentage decline of 12,413 head or 19%, closely followed by Western Australia, dropping 18%, or 4,732 head.
ALFA President, Tess Herbert said that the results from the September quarter survey signalled the ongoing support of the grain fed production system in the beef supply chain.
“Whilst a slight decline in numbers was expected, cattle on feed over the million mark is a reflection of how integral feedlots are to delivering consistent high quality beef to our markets in the current overall production and seasonal conditions,” Ms Herbert said.
“Capacity figures expanded again for the quarter, with 1,278,184 being recorded, reflecting capital works coming on line and continued investor confidence in the feedlot sector,” Ms Herbert said.
Scott Tolmie, MLA’s Manager of Market Intelligence, said that the national saleyard feeder steer indicator averaged 304.12¢/kg lwt during the September quarter, 12% (42¢) lower quarter-on-quarter and back 19% compared with the same period last year.
“Deteriorating pasture conditions across much of NSW and Queensland during the quarter saw restocker buying activity ease due to limited rainfall. However, the availability of light weight stock through markets remained limited with the herd rebuilding cycle still underway,” Mr Tolmie said.
A decline in cattle prices in the September quarter was partially offset by grain prices moving in the opposite direction during the quarter.
“Wheat ex-Darling Downs averaged $318.61/tonne, while barley averaged $308.46, an increase of 35% and 40% year-on-year, respectively,” Mr Tolmie said.
“Combined Ex-Darling Downs grain prices average 22% higher than the June quarter, as a result of well below average rainfall in most cropping regions in July and August negatively impacting crop yields.”