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Australia releases Q1 livestock slaughter, production figures

26 May 2022
Meat & Livestock Australia

Carcase weights are 10.8 kg heavier year over year

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its official livestock slaughter and production figures for the first quarter of 2022.

In the three months to March, average cattle carcase weights reached 324.4kg/head. This was 10.8kg heavier than at the same time last year.

According to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), this increase can be attributed to three key factors. High cattle prices are providing an economic incentive to producers and feedlots to grow cattle out to heavier weights. Improved seasonal conditions in southern Queensland and New South Wales have provided producers with abundant feed. And increased proportion of slaughter is being sourced from the feedlot sector. In Q1, 55% of slaughtered cattle came from feedlots.

Notably, Queensland cattle averaged 336kg/head in the first quarter of 2022, the highest of any state and 12kg higher than the national average. Conversely, Western Australian cattle were the lightest at 293.4kg/head, however, this is still considered a high weight for the state.

According to Stephen Bignell, Manager of Market Information at MLA, these high carcase weights are offsetting a drop in slaughter.

“The ABS results show that Australian cattle slaughter in Q1 was 1,335,400 head, a 5.8% drop on the same quarter last year. Despite this nearly 6% drop in slaughter number, Australian beef production dropped only 2.5% due to the heavier cattle weights,” Bignell said. “Encouragingly cattle slaughter for Q1 2022 in NSW was 3% higher than Q1 2021, rising to 297,000 head."

“The Female Slaughter Rate (FSR) which is technical indicator of whether we are in a rebuild, currently sits at 41%, the lowest rate since Q4 2011," he concluded. "This indicates that the national herd is still within a strong rebuilding phase.”

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