Winter female cattle slaughter rises to highest level in three years

Dry conditions across Australia’s key production regions have driven winter female slaughter to levels not seen since the drought years of 2013–15.

From June to August national female slaughter was up 23 per cent on 2017 figures, at more than 1.1 million head, Meat and Livestock Australia reports.

While winter female slaughter saw a strong year-on-year increase in Queensland, 24 per cent, and NSW, 23 per cent, the sharpest rises were recorded in Victoria 31 per cent, and WA 37 per cent.

August marked the fourth successive month in which the proportion of national female slaughter surpassed 50 per cent of total kills, at 52 per cent.

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On a 12-month rolling average basis, the figure has risen to 49 per cent, indicating the continuation of a herd liquidation phase.

In August, male carcase weights rose 4kg year-on-year to 330kg/head, while female weights declined 13kg to 247kg/head.

The drop in female weights, combined with a higher proportion of female slaughter, saw the national average carcase weight for adult cattle fall 10kg year-on-year, to 286kg/head.

August beef production totalled 213,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt), which saw the year-to-date figure surpass 1.5 million tonnes cwt, up 8 per cent year-on-year.

For the month of August this year, national adult cattle slaughter totalled 743,000 head, up 10 per cent on August 2017.

Year-to-date slaughter also sits 10 per cent above 2017 levels, with the increase driven entirely by cows and heifers.

Nationally, year-to-August female slaughter was up 22 per cent on 2017, while male slaughter was down 1 per cent.

Difficult growing conditions resulted in a supply shortage of finished lambs during August.

Nationally, lamb slaughter totalled 1.59 million head for the month, down 19 per cent year-on-year.

Elevated slaughter for the first half of the year pushed year-to-date slaughter to a record 15.4 million head, up 5 per cent year-on-year.

Sheep and cattle slaughter increases to reduce stock numbers during drought

As a result of continued drought in the eastern states, the number of sheep, lambs and cattle being slaughtered has steadily increased as producers in effected regions reduce stock numbers.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show and increase in livestock and meat slaughter for June 2018.

Cattle slaughter increased by 5,700 head – 0.9 per cent. This is compared with the previous month and increased by 47,600 head, or 7.8 per cent, year-on-year.

Calf slaughter increased by 615 head, 1.8 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 3,300 head, 10.3 per cent, year-on-year.

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Sheep slaughter increased by 47,100 head, 5.7 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 –compared with the previous month and increased by 245,400 head, 39.3 per cent, year-on-year.

Lamb slaughter increased by 29,400 head, or 1.4 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 226,700 head, 12.2 per cent, year-on-year.

Pig slaughter increased by 706 head, 0.2 per cent, for the month ending June 2018 – compared with the previous month and increased by 12,000 head, 2.7 per cent, year-on-year.

With the drought affecting so many farmers, governments and supermarkets are among those helping to provide funds to drought-stricken areas.

Woolworths is supporting drought affected farmers with a $1.5million funding boost to Rural Aid.

Hundreds of farmers will benefit from the $1.5million investment from Woolworths via Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program, which provides support to farmers in need by delivering hay for cattle feed, as well as other essential items.

The support from Woolworths will also allow Rural Aid to increase the number of counsellors they have supporting farmers and their families impacted by mental health issues as a result of the drought.

Coles is also giving out $5 million in grants and interest-free loans from its nurture fund to help farmers across Australia combat drought.

In the past year, Coles also provided more than half a million dollars in grants to farmers who applied to the Coles nurture fund to implement initiatives to make them less dependent on rain.