December 21, 2021
Australia to see increase in adult cattle slaughter next year
Industry group Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) forecast that Australia's adult cattle slaughter will jump from this year's 36-year low of six million head to 6.65 million next year and 7.45 million in 2023, as herd numbers increase following drought and flooding.
MLA's 2022 slaughter forecast may be conservative, given the rate of herd rebuilding and high levels of fertility due to an exceptional season this year. Processor buyers think breeder numbers are now restored to pre-drought levels in Australia's southern regions. Northern herd numbers could take another two years to regain their full breeder cattle numbers.
Seasonal conditions across most of Queensland and parts of New South Wales have been extremely favourable this year, indicating that there could be an influx of slaughter cattle across the first half of 2022.
Farmers have readily available pasture following sustained rainfall across 2021, which should lead to substantial weight gain in cattle on farm over the next month. This means that slaughter cattle retained in paddocks, rather than sent to feedlots, could be transported to slaughter two months earlier than in drier seasons.
Because of the generational cycle, the first real signs of full herd recovery from the drought of 2017-19 will be seen in weaner and backgrounder numbers being sold. Seasonal pressure will have virtually no bearing on turnoff patterns next year for the vast majority of producers in eastern Australia. But seasonal impact on logistics, including from flooding, could still play a significant part in cattle supply in January-March.
Some Australian beef processors struggled to secure sufficient labour in 2021, particularly as border closures limited immigration to the lowest level in over a century. This, combined with the limited availability of slaughter cattle, led to the low rates of slaughter some weeks.
Abattoirs and meat processors are turning to innovative technology to combat the labour shortages and allow plants to become more efficient. Integrated feedlot and processor Teys Australia is completing its new beef aggregation and automated sorting system near the port of Brisbane in Queensland. The site will manage chilled and frozen product from Teys' three large Queensland export beef plants at Beenleigh, Lakes Creek and Biloela using labour-saving robots and smart technologies.
- Argus Media