Australia: Female slaughter rate driving herd growth
In Q1 2023, the national FSR was 42.4% – a 0.3% increase from Q4 2021. Comparing year-on-year, the FSR rose 1.6%, although Q1 2022 was the lowest quarterly FSR since Q1 2011 and the second lowest (behind Q1 2011) since Q4 1994.
The Q1 2023 FSR was in the top 10% of lowest quarterly rates since records began in 1976. This data continues to support MLA’s January Cattle Projections, where the Market Information team predicted the national herd would reach its highest level since 2014 at 28.8m head in 2023.
At a state level, NSW provides the most accurate barometer for the overall rebuild/liquidation phase of the herd during the cattle cycle.
On a quarterly average basis since 1976, NSW has recorded an average spread of a 2.3% between its FSR and the national rate.
Importantly, Queensland’s FSR declined by 1% year-on-year and 0.3% on a quarterly basis. This high retention rate of females is expected to continue well in 2023 as the state continues its rebuild, particularly in its northern pastoral regions.
In southern Queensland, seasonal conditions will determine the FSR for the remainder of the year, although producers are expected to retain females overall.
In WA and SA, the FSR fell favourably year-on-year, providing key support from these states for the overall national herd growth as female retention remains front of mind.
As expected, Victoria’s FSR remains high. Overall, this figure is not a fair or accurate barometer of the state’s herd rebuild due to the larger numbers of dairy cows processed in the state.
Considering NSW’s herd growth is the most advanced of any state in the country, the FSR will most likely rise as 2023 progresses.
It’s expected that supply of all cull females to the market (cast-for-age cows, cull cows and cull heifers) will increase as the requirement of NSW producers to retain larger numbers of females continues to diminish as a result of the above-average herd numbers on-farm.
Queensland’s retention of females continues to remain strong, particularly following northern Australia’s 2022–23 wet season. Although many areas were flood-affected, this generally bodes well for intense rebuilding in the key breeding herds of these regions in 2023.
The national FSR will fluctuate with the seasons in 2023 but is expected to rise as producers offload surplus females. Although the FSR may lift in 2023, it will remain below 47% in 2023 and therefore the herd’s growth will continue in 2024.
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