Feeding time

Livestock | 3rd June 2024 | By Matt Dalgleish

March 2024 cattle on feed update

The Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) in conjunction with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) have released their quarterly feedlot data and it shows record levels of cattle on feed in Australian feedlots. There were 1.354,747 cattle reported on feed for Q1 2024, a 4.7% increase on the levels seen in Q4, 2023 which was the previous record.

During the quarter cattle on feed in Queensland, the largest feedlot state accounting for nearly 60% of national feedlot numbers, saw a 7% increase over the quarter to register 802,451 head on feed. Victoria and South Australia, accounting for just 5% of the national feedlot numbers each, saw strong gains over the quarter with an increase to feedlot numbers of 14% and 11%, respectively. WA feedlot volumes were 2% higher over the quarter and NSW, which holds 27% of the national feedlot total, registered a 2% decline in feedlot numbers.

Feedlot capacity eased marginally over the quarter, down by just 0.04% to 1,593,911 head. The strong lift in feedlot numbers and negligible change to capacity over the March 2024 quarter saw the national feedlot utilisation rise from 81% to 85%. Across the states, Queensland and SA are nearing full capacity with their respective utilisation ratio on 90% and 96%. Feedlot utilisation in NSW and Victoria currently sits at 79% and 74%, meanwhile WA feedlots are the least crowded with a ratio of 66%.

In terms of seasonal differences, the COF number for Q1 2024 has started the season 17% higher than the first quarter of 2023 reflecting a positive outlook for the sector in the coming season. Compared to the five-year trend the Q1 cattle on feed numbers for 2024 are sitting nearly 20% higher. The increased feedlot volumes are filtering through to much higher marketings for Q1 2024 with 761,550 head of cattle turned off for the March quarter. This is an increase of 14% from the turnoff levels seen during the final quarter of 2023 and 15% higher than the turnoff seen in Q1 2023. It is also 3% higher than the average Q1 marketing levels based on the last five-years of data.

In terms of total cattle slaughter for Q1 2024, there have been 1,811,300 head of cattle processed of which 761,550 have been finished on grain. This leaves 1,049,750 head of turned off that were grass finished. This increased grainfed turnoff has lifted the ratio of grain to grass finished cattle from 37.5% in 2023 to 42%, so far in 2024 and places the grainfed ratio back in line with the long term growth trend for feedlot versus grassfed turnoff since the early 2000s.


  • COF
  • Feedlot
  • Cattle
  • Beef