THE number of cattle on feed has set a new Australian record with 1.12 million head at the end of the June 2018 quarter, nine per cent more than the preceding period, new statistics from Meat and Livestock Australia prove.
Grain fed beef exports over the aforementioned period achieved a new high of 74,932 tonnes shipped weight (swt), up 10 per cent from the same period last year – and the impact of record numbers of cattle on feed has been further reflected in the latest export figures as grain fed exports in July totalled 28,145 tonnes swt – the largest month on record.
Deteriorating seasonal conditions throughout the June quarter contributed to feedlot cattle inventory reaching the record level, despite demand for feed grain rising and prices trending significantly higher.
Wheat ex-Darling Downs averaged $381/tonne, while barley averaged $383/tonne, an increase of 48 per cent and 58 per cent year-on-year respectively.
During the June quarter, feeder buyers accounted for 44 per cent of EYCI eligible cattle, a modest decline from the March quarter as opportunistic re-stockers, with feed on hand, took advantage of falling young cattle prices.
The domestic feeder steer indicator throughout the June quarter averaged 278.14¢/kg lwt – representing a seven per cent decline from the March quarter.
Elevated demand and higher prices for grain will continue to pressure lot feeders, as will the ability to source suitable entry weight cattle.
The average weight of EYCI eligible cattle purchased by feeder buyers in the June quarter was 360kg, a drop of 14kg on the previous quarter.
Overall, the feedlot sector continues to support Australian beef production – as challenging conditions hamper large parts of the country – evidenced with feedlots at 86 per cent utilisation and a record number of cattle on feed.