Australia's beef cattle herd to decrease by mid-2019
Australia's national beef cattle herd is expected to decrease to 26.2 million head in the first half of the year, falling to its lowest level since the mid-1990s. Dry conditions across many key cattle production areas have been registered since last year, leading to a drop in cattle slaughter of 3% to 7.6% head in 2019, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) 2019 Cattle Industry Projections.
In line with that, total beef production is projected to decline 4%, to 2.2 million tonnes carcase weight (cwt) in 2019. "As a result of elevated slaughter and substantially lower than usual branding rates, particularly across Queensland and New South Wales, the national herd is expected to decrease a further 3.8% to 26.2 million head by mid-2019. A significant turnaround in conditions is needed before rebuilding can recommence. Compared to last year, many producers have entered 2019 with depleted feed stockpiles and require a turn-around in seasonal conditions to avoid mounting feed costs", explains Scott Tolmie, MLA’s Market Intelligence Manager.
Export figures are expected to decrease also after Australian beef exports ended 2018 at 1.13 million tonnes shipped weight (swt), the third largest year on record and the sixth consecutive year exceeding one million tonnes. "Japan, the US and Korea continued to lead the way as the three largest markets. However, China recorded the strongest growth in 2018, with Australian beef exports to China increasing 48% year-on-year to 163,000 tonnes swt. Total Australian beef exports are forecast to follow production and decline 6% year-on-year, to 1.06 million tonnes swt in 2019", added Mr Tolmie.
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