October 30, 2003



Severe Drought in Australia Leads To 10% Fall in Number of Cattle On Feed


Recent breaks to Australia's severe drought led to a scarcity of feeder cattle and a near 10% drop in the number of cattle on feed in the third quarter, the Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) announced today.


The number of cattle on feed in the July-September period fell 8.6% to 609,890 from the second quarter, and was down 6.6% from the year-earlier period.


"(The) drop in production (was) due to typical seasonal trends as well as the tightening of supply of cattle with recent good rains across much of Australia," said Sandy Maconochie, the association's president.


Higher saleyard prices for suitable feeder cattle in the latest quarter is what leads to the fall, he said.


Many producers were holding on to younger cattle after widespread rain across the eastern states in July and early August, he said.


Saleyard prices for light yearling steers increased 11% in the September quarter to 186 cents a kg live weight.


A significant increase in the number of cattle destined for the Japanese market, to 51.9% in the September quarter from 43.2% the previous three months, restored the normal mix between export and domestic production, he said.


A total of 316,351 head were destined for Japan in the third calendar quarter.


The number of cattle on feed for the domestic market in the latest quarter fell 27% from the previous quarter, to 245,872 head, 7% less than in the year-earlier period.

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