- Cattle on feed for the September quarter eased nearly 5% from the mid-year figures to see 1.12 million head reported.
- Encouraging the reduced numbers of cattle on feed was a lift in marketing volumes, which lifted by nearly 5% from 675,302 in June to 708,371 as at September.
- Feedlot capacity remained relatively static at 1.45 million head and the capacity utilisation rate eased from 81% in June to 77% in September.
- The ratio of grainfed to grassfed cattle slaughter for the 2021 season presently sits at 45.0%, up from 40.2% in 2020.
Cattle on feed (COF) for the September quarter eased nearly 5% from the mid-year figures to see 1.12 million head reported in Australian feedlots, according to Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) data released late last week. Declines in cattle numbers in feedlots were noted across all states, with WA experiencing the largest drop of 25%. However, it is not uncommon to see a decline of this magnitude from the June to September quarter and WA feedlot numbers often reach a seasonal low in the September.
Across the eastern states, NSW and Victorian feedlots saw the biggest percentage declines in COF numbers of 7% and 6%, respectively. Queensland, which accounts for 62% of the national cattle on feed, saw a drop of 3% over the September quarter from 708,557 head to 690,229.
Encouraging the reduced numbers of cattle on feed was a lift in marketing volumes. Cattle turnoff during the September quarter lifted by nearly 5% from 675,302 in June to 708,371 as at September. Quarterly marketing volumes are just 1% shy of the seasonal average pattern and are the highest seen March 2020.
Above average quarterly marketing volumes were seen in WA and SA, underpinning the increases to the national marketing figure. WA saw 40,282 head of feedlot cattle turned off for the September quarter which are levels 45% above the five-year average trend for this time in the year. Meanwhile, feedlot cattle turnoff in SA was 23% higher than the seasonal average, at 26,974 head.
Feedlot capacity remained relatively static at 1.45 million head and the capacity utilisation rate eased from 81% in June to 77% in September. Across the nation, feedlot capacity remains tightest in Queensland at 83% and there is plenty of space in WA feedlots at present with their capacity ratio sitting at 39%.
A comparison to the Australian Bureau of Statistics cattle slaughter figures for the September quarter highlights that so far this year 4.5 million head of cattle have been turned off, of which 2.05 million head were finished on grain. This brings the ratio of grainfed to grassfed cattle slaughter to 45.0% for the 2021 season.
In 2020 the ratio of grainfed to grassfed was 40.2%. The increasing proportion of grainfed to grassfed cattle highlights the confidence in the sector and demonstrates the underlying strong demand for grainfed Australian beef in key export markets like Japan and South Korea.