May 25, 2022


Australia's slaughter numbers of female beef cattle hit record lowest


Australia's female beef cattle slaughter numbers have hit the lowest point in decades, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently releasing its livestock statistics for the first quarter of 2022.


Overall production was similar to this time last year but down on last quarter, with 1,420 head passing through abattoirs producing 452,700 tonnes of beef. New South Wales has bucked the national trend with its kill increasing from last quarter to 297,000 head.


Females represented 41% of this quarter's kill, which is the lowest since Q4 2011, when it hit 39%. The female slaughter ratio (FSR) is often used as a marker of whether the national herd is rebuilding or liquidating – less than 47% is meant to be a rebuilding phase.


Queensland had the lowest female slaughter with 33%, New South Wales with 36% and Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria all above 50%.


With females representing a smaller part of an already small kill, the actual number was the second lowest since 1984, with 546,200 nationally.


Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) market information manager Stephen Bignell said factors outside the herd rebuild were also influencing the female slaughter ratio.


"When processor capacity was being impacted by COVID earlier in the year, grainfed cattle were being prioritised because they need to be turned off," Bignell said. "That meant processors would have been taking in a lot more grainfed steers for the first quarter of this year."


Bignell added he expected the FSR to move in the other direction second quarter of 2022.


"I don't expect the FSR to move above the 47pc mark, but I do expect it to be higher than the first quarter," he said.


While the numbers were low, Bignell said carcass weights were up.


"Despite this nearly 6% drop in slaughter number, Australian beef production dropped only 2.5% due to the heavier cattle weights," he said.


Meanwhile, New South Wales bucked the national trend with its numbers increasing 3% to 297,000 head – which is in line with MLA's cattle projections released earlier this year.


"I think it's very encouraging to see the numbers in NSW up so high because it shows how agile supply chains are," Bignell said.


- Beef Central

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