Aussie cattle supply to tighten


Herd rebuilding is expected to reduce the number of cattle available in Australia but national beef production is forecast to remain unchanged at 2.1 million tonnes, says MLA.

Posted on Feb 08 ,09:02

Aussie cattle supply to tighten

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) foresees tight supply of cattle in the market as producers are trying to rebuild their herds. The numbers fell to 24.6 million head in 2020 – their lowest level since the early 1990s – as a result of prolonged, severe drought but right now improved weather conditions numbers fell to 24.6 million head in 2020 – their lowest level since the early 1990s – as a result of prolonged, severe drought.
For 2021, MLA expects an increase of 2% in the national herd. MLA Market Information Manager, Stephen Bignell, said 2021 represented a new frontier for the Australian cattle market, with the combination of a reduced herd, record-high prices and a global market attempting to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. "Cattle supply is expected to tighten in 2021 as producers retain more breeding stock to rebuild their herds. Producer preferences to hold onto young cattle rather than turn them off into the vealer market is already evident. During the first few weeks of 2021, yardings and slaughter numbers have been down on year-ago levels. As the rebuild gains momentum on the assumption of above-median rainfall for the start of 2021, total adult cattle slaughter is forecast to fall 3% on 2020 levels, to hit 6.9 million head, the lowest in 25 years," he said.
For the second half of the year, the slaughter figures for female slaughter is expected to drop by 47%. However, beef production will remain similar to 2020 levels, reaching 2.1 million tonnes carcase weight (cwt), as national adult carcase weights are forecast to lift 3.2% on 2020 levels, to average 301.3 kilograms per head. Also, beef exports may increase by 2% this year, to reach 1.1 million tonnes.
“In 2020, COVID-19 affected demand for beef in key markets due to the global drop in foodservice activity and market access issues. Global growth GDP of 5% is forecast in 2021, which should see global demand for beef rebound,” Mr Bignell said.
Live cattle exports will see a decline of 9% totalling 960,000 head, according to the outlook.

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