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Livestock | 1st July 2024 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has significantly revised its estimate of the beef herd size in Australia. The new estimate for the end of June last year is 27.8 million head, up from the previous estimate of 24.4 million—a difference of 3.4 million head, or 14%. This adjustment addresses criticism over the past two years regarding the accuracy of herd estimates.

The updated methodology, which abandons beef producer surveys in favour of new modelling techniques and data sources, has brought the ABS’s estimates closer to those of Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). The revised herd size has implications for calculations of carbon and methane production by beef animals. Prior to 2015 the MLA herd estimates were the same as the ABS under their prior methodology, with the revised ABS numbers now being back-dated to 2005 it begs the question will MLA adopt the new revised figures back to 2005 or come up with their own revised estimates?

The new ABS methodology calculates herd size using cattle inflows and outflows, similar to the ABS’s Estimated Resident Population approach. This includes opening stock, inflows of new calves, compositional flows, outflows (slaughter, exports, on-farm deaths), and closing stock. The updated estimates are labeled as ‘experimental’ but aim to provide a more accurate picture of the beef cattle population.


  • Beef
  • Herd Liquidation
  • Herd Rebuild
  • Supply and Demand