December 8, 2008

Australia's October beef production hits record high

Australian beef and veal production in October reached an all-time high, posting an increase of 8 percent on the same month last year, to 213,862 tonnes cwt and surpassing the previous monthly record set in November 2006 of 210,626 tonnes swt (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Increasing the record volume was a 16 percent surge in male slaughter in Queensland, while female slaughter in Victoria reached a 30-year high.

The 16 percent on-year jump in male cattle turnoff throughout Queensland during October, to 240,000 head, was due to a steady build-up of male cattle numbers throughout the year, as drought conditions forced cattle east from the NT and western Queensland. The lack of cattle entering feedlots, combined with improved seasonal conditions throughout central and selected southern regions of the state also retained many cattle and finished on pasture.

In line with the overall better seasonal conditions across the state, female slaughter in October declined 9 percent, to 121,000 head, as producers looked to retain females for further herd expansion next year.

Both national and Queensland average adult carcase weights for the month increased 3 percent year-on-year, to 271kg/head and 292kg/head, respectively.

In contrast to the north, drought conditions continued to plague Victoria throughout October, with another dry month forcing producers to further liquidate breeding numbers. Female slaughter during October increased 29 percent year-on-year, to a 30-year high of 110,000 head, while male slaughter increased 15 percent, to 47,000 head. For the ten months to October, female slaughter in Victoria was up 10 percent year-on-year, to 881,000 head - the highest level since 1978.

Across the remaining states, adult cattle slaughter numbers for October in NSW (New South Wales) remained unchanged year-on-year, while SA (South Australia) declined 15 percent and WA (West Australia) and Tasmania increased 13 percent and 8 percent, respectively.


Despite the record volume during October, total production in 2008 is forecast to finish just below 2007 levels (2.18 million tonnes cwt), being unable to catch up after a rain-disrupted first quarter.

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