Commercial feedlots first emerged in Australia in the mid-1960s on the Darling Downs in Queensland, primarily
to meet overseas demand for a consistent high quality product. Since then, feedlotting has evolved into a major
industry, with around 400 accredited feedlot operatorsacross Australia, employing over 28,500 people. The gross value of production was estimated at around $2.5bn in 2014/15
Although Australia accounts for only 4% of global beef production, it provides over 15% of global beef exports This highlights Australia’s ability to continuously meet export market specifications and maintain a strong reputation in international markets.
While the majority of beef produced in Australia is grass-fed, feedlots have seen increased cattle influx in the recent past, particularly due to tough climatic conditions. In December 2015, an all time high of near one million cattle were on feed, due to severe drought across eastern parts of Australia, primarily in Queensland and New SouthWales – an area which accounts for over 60% of Australia’s cattle herd. As conditions subsequently improved, and feeder cattle became harder to procure, numbers dropped by around 20%. However, by March 2017, with grain costs low and cattle being held on feed for longer, the number of cattle on feed again rose above the one million mark.
In terms of overall beef production, Australia’s volume fell by around 17% in 2016, with a slight further drop forecast for 2017. Looking ahead, this is forecast to gradually return to 2013 levels by 2020.
Grain-fed beef production accounts for over 40% of total beef production in Australia. While grain-fed beef ’s share of production varies depending on the cattle cycle (high during liquidation phase and low during herd rebuilding phase), it plays a key role, especially during harsh weather conditions to ensure standard quality specifications. Grain-fed cattle turnoff was estimated at 2.8 million for the year ending June 2016, representing over 30% of total beef cattle slaughter for same periodhttps://www.anz.com.au/business/industries/agribusiness/