Global Agriculture

Australia’s cattle slaughter, beef output to rise: USDA

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18 September 2023, Australia: Australian beef production is forecast to continue to recover next year to reach the sixth highest on record. FAS and Canberra forecast Australian beef production will increase by around 4pc on the year to 2.25mn t next year, according to the USDA FAS’ Livestock and Products Annual report for Australia.

Previous high-production years have been largely associated with destocking because of drought conditions. The 4pc year-on-year increase in beef production correlates with an expected 5pc year-on-year increase in cattle slaughter volumes to 7.5mn head next year from a revised estimate of 7.1mn head for this year.

FAS and Canberra have revised up estimated slaughter numbers for this year to 7.1mn head from an USDA estimate of 6.7mn head. The increase is mainly because of signs that the herd rebuilding phase is nearing an end and it is resulting in not only a higher level of slaughter but also a rise in female slaughter rates, which was evident in the second quarter of this year. Young cattle numbers have also built up as part of herd rebuilding, to an extent that the number of cattle ready for slaughter will increase next year.

Live cattle exports next year are estimated to increase to 750,000 head from a downward revised estimate of 550,000 head this year. This is a substantial 36pc year-on-year increase for next year but it remains far below peaks of 1.3mn head achieved on three occasions over the last 10 years.

Higher cattle prices through the previous two years have meant that Australia cattle have been less competitive for export. Lower cattle prices are forecast to continue through into 2024 as Australia reaches the tail end of its herd rebuilding phase and even more cattle become available for domestic and export markets next year.

By Jessica Clarke

Australian cattle slaughter trend (‘000 head)

Australian live cattle export volumes, prices (head; $/head)

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