Australian cattle numbers on feed fell 19% to 787,000 head, according to the September quarterly feedlot survey.
The latest Australian Lot Feeders' Assocation (ALFA)/Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) quarterly feedlot survey results were driven by a rise in feeder cattle and grain prices, according to ALFA president, Don Mackay.
The yearling steer (C2, 330 to 400 kg lwt) category averaged 179c/kg lwt, up 8% from the June quarter as the demand for good quality feeder cattle outstripped supply.
The proliferation of drought affected cattle into south east Queensland feedlots remained strong for most of the quarter but tailed off towards the end of September when the survey was undertaken. Feed grain prices similarly increased over the quarter with Darling Downs barley, sorghum and wheat increasing by 1%, 6% and 4% respectively.The highest numerical quarterly decline in cattle numbers on feed was experienced in Queensland.
MLA beef market analyst Ben Thomas said grainfed beef exports totalled 54,876 t shipped weight for the quarter, up 8% on 2012, taking the January to September export volume to 151,075 t shipped weight.
Reductions in exports to Japan were again offset by greater shipments to the EU, China and the Middle East. Grain fed beef shipments to Japan declined 12% year-on-year, with the January-to-September period totalling 87,157 t shipped weight, back 7% on year-ago levels. Grain fed beef exports to Korea were steady with last year's levels, taking the January-to-September volume to 21,815 t shipped weight, up 3% year-on-year.
January-to-September grain fed beef shipments to developing markets jumped, with China (13,059 t swt) up more than eight-fold, while volumes to the EU (8273 t swt) and the Middle East (7593 t swt) rose 107% and 100% year-on-year, respectively.
Source: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)