February 8, 2022


Australia's cattle herd set to increase 4% as rebuilding picks up



Australia's cattle herd is projected to grow by 1.1 million, or 4%, this year, as its rebuilding becomes more pronounced.


However, the pace of the rebuild will vary across the country, underpinned by a third year of favourable seasonal conditions for southern Australia, according to Meat & Livestock Australia's (MLA) first cattle industry projections update for 2022.


Western Australia's northern pastoralists are relying on successive favourable wet seasons over the next two years, to deliver the core breeding herd and an opportunity to increase joining percentages and branding rates.


MLA market information manager Stephen Bignell said, compared to other states, Western Australia was only one year into the three-year rebuild. This was off the back of dry seasonal conditions two years ago, followed by increased rainfall last year.


"Northern (Western Australia) didn't really have a drench post-drought until the 2022 wet season," Bignell said. "I know Broome recorded more than 300 millimetres of rainfall this week, so that rebuild will start this year."


Meanwhile, herds in the southern states of New South Wales and Victoria were expected to mature favourably with large numbers of high-quality young breeding females and heifers joined to deliver a large cohort of calves for spring.


"Females will be well nourished from abundant and good quality pastures promoting favourable growing conditions," Bignell said. "While the southern states are accelerating their rebuilds, success in the north will be ongoing, albeit at a slower pace."


In terms of production, the projections reported an increase in supply would result in an increase in slaughter numbers by 11% to reach 6.7 million this year.


By 2024, slaughter volumes are forecast to be 31% higher than last year's levels, reaching 7.85 million head.


However, slaughter volumes will still remain below the 10-year average. It is hoped COVID-19 related affects on processor capacity will be minimised by the end of quarter one 2022.


Labour, as well as international freight and logistics, were expected to have a significant impact on cattle slaughter numbers and supply this year. In terms of supply chain and logistics, the issue covers both the difficulty in delivering product to the desired market and the cost of freight.


- Farm Weekly

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