Meat and Livestock Australia’s cattle industry projections for 2016 point to a much smaller national herd.MORE beef per head as producers look to put weight on what they have, rather than restock on a very competitive market, looks like it may partly offset the forecast 20-year low in cattle numbers this year.
Average carcase weight increases will also come courtesy of a greater number of lighter northern cattle being snapped up by the buoyant live export to Asia trade, a higher proportion of cattle on feed and the much smaller numbers of females available for slaughter, according to Meat and Livestock Australia’s 2016 cattle industry projections.
Released this morning, the comprehensive analysis of Australia’s cattle market points to prices averaging even higher than last year.
This will be the year Australian production takes its biggest drop in decades, the report’s author MLA Manager of Market Information Ben Thomas said.
The national herd is estimated to fall by 16 per cent year-on-year to 26.2 million head by June, and then again to 25.9m next year.
If that happens, it will represent a 3.4m head or 12 per cent fall since 2013.
That alone will create extremely hot competition in the cattle market as restockers, feedlots and processors line up for the limited availability, the report says.
However, combined with a lower Australian dollar, the forecast for median rainfall and the big orders live exporters have to fill, it will mean substantial upward pressure on prices.
Mr Thomas calls the influences making themselves felt in 2016 ‘extreme forces’.
Already, the contraction is being seen with Eastern States weekly kills nowhere near levels of this time last year.
Last week’s National Livestock Reporting Service figures put Queensland’s cattle slaughter total at 58,584, down 22pc year-on-year; NSW’s at 35442, down 13pc and Victoria’s at 30663, down 5pc. South Australia’s were also down 17pc.
However, for the rest of the decade MLA sees production rebuilding far quicker than the national herd or slaughter numbers.
Average carcass weight, which has been on the up for more than 40 years, will this year increase ‘considerably’, Mr Thomas said.
Indeed, livestock buyers in Northern NSW said veal was already presenting an average 20 kilograms per head heavier, mostly due to the ‘enormous season’ in many parts of the region.
Queensland agents said the definite feedback was that where rain had arrived, the intention of producers was to put kilograms on what stock they had first and aim for heavier categories.
Mr Thomas said the carcase weight effect would be held by grain feeding, with 960,000 head currently in feedlots and that number only expected to decline to 900,000 by the end of this year.
While this is a 6pc decline, numbers on feed will still be significantly greater than the pre-drought (pre- 2014) five-year average of 800,000 head.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.