February 22, 2021


Australia's 2021 cattle number expected to increase to 25.2 million head



Australia's cattle herd is expected to increase by 2% to 25.2 million head in 2021 as it enters a rebuild phase in analysis published by Meat and Livestock Australia.


The increase would come following two years of decline during which Australian cattle numbers fell to their lowest level in two decades in 2020 after a prolonged severe drought.


 Australian cattle Industry projections are as followed:


- 2021 slaughter: 6.9 million head

- Carcass weights: 301.3 kg/head

- Production: 2.1 million tonnes (cwe)

- Beef exports: 1.1 million tonnes (shipped weight)


Cattle supply is expected to tighten this year as producers retain more breeding stock to rebuild their herds, leading slaughter levels to fall further. Cattle slaughter is expected to fall 3% to 6.9 million head.


Feed availability and the growing size of the feedlot sector, with over one million head currently on feed, will contribute to rising carcass weights in 2021 - these are predicted to rise by 9.3kg/head to a record 301.3kg/head. Higher finished cattle prices may also encourage producers to add more weight.


Beef production is forecast to be 2.1 million tonnes, similar to levels recorded in 2020 but well below production during 2018 and 2019 when large-scale destocking took place.


Exports are expected to increase by 2% to 1.1 million tonnes. MLA's analysts expect global GDP to grow by 5% this year, supporting a recovery in the demand for beef.