Market Morsel: The grain gang

Livestock | 10th November 2021 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

The proportion of Australian cattle being finished on grain has increased from 25% in 2000 to 46% as of June 2021. Official cattle-on-feed marketing figures registered 1.3 million head of grain fed cattle as being turned off so far this year (as of 30th June) and Australian Bureau of Statistics cattle slaughter data indicates that 2.9 million head had been processed to June, with 1.6 million of these cattle recorded as grass fed.

Meat and Livestock Australia estimate 6.3 million head of cattle will be slaughtered by the end of 2021. Based on the mid-year grain fed ratio of 46% the estimate by the end of the year is for 2.9 million head of cattle to have been finished on grain and 3.4 million head finished on pasture. In contrast, during 2000 Australia had 1.9 million head of cattle that were grain finished, compared to 5.8 million head that were grass fed.

The first chart shows the split between grain fed to grass fed as of the middle of 2021, based on the official data to date. If we stay on track at 46% of cattle turnoff as grain fed, then by the year end the split between grain fed to grass fed is demonstrated in the second chart.


  • Feedlot
  • Cattle
  • Beef