November 23, 2011


Australian beef cattle herd grows 9%



Preliminary Australian cattle herd estimates have unveiled that Australian beef cattle herd grew by 9% in the year to June 30, approaching 26.2 million head, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


The statistics were released following the five-yearly Agricultural Census conducted in June.


The larger national herd was driven by the southern and eastern states, while Western Australia (WA) and the Northern Territory (NT) recorded lower numbers.


Queensland (QLD) had the largest cattle herd growth, 13% larger than the previous year, at 12.8million head, driven by back-to-back strong seasonal conditions.


NSW numbers lifted 7% on-year to 5.8million head, the ABS survey suggested, while Victoria (VIC) herd numbers increased 10%, to 4.0million.


While the data released is only preliminary, there is an obvious area for closer scrutiny in a questionable figure of +24% in beef cattle herd numbers recorded for South Australia (SA), which ABS now puts at 1.3million head, while Tasmania (TAS) recorded a 9% rise to 700,000 head.


Likely due to the drought event and regional-level market difficulties, WA's cattle numbers fell 9% to 2.1million head according to the census data, while the NT herd was back 2%, to 2.0million.


For the first time since 2004, the Australian sheep flock increased compared with the previous year. According to the ABS results, the national flock grew 9% in the year to June 30, to 74.3million head.


The response rate for the preliminary results from the 2011 Census was 79%, from 163,000 agricultural businesses, ABS reported.


Additional commodity estimates, and possibly revisions to these figures from the 2011 Agricultural Census will be published by the ABS in June next year. The final data will include additional information for regional geographies and Natural Resource Management regions.


The information collected from the farming community via the June Agricultural Census will play a vital role in supporting the development and monitoring of Australia's agricultural, natural resource and water policies, an ABS statement said.

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