Australian adult cattle slaughter in July 2017 totalled just under 633,000 head – 16% higher than the same time in 2016(ABS).
This took the total for the year-to-date (January-July 2017) to almost 4.14 million head, although remained 5% below year-ago levels. The dry conditions experienced across much of the country over winter have seen producers turn off more stock leading up to spring.
With the herd rebuilding phase ongoing, cow and heifer retention has seen females continue to make up the majority of the decline in overall processing so far in 2017. Female slaughter totalled just under 1.9 million head for the year-to-date, down 10% year-on-year – accounting for 46% of the total adult kill. Deteriorating seasonal conditions during winter, however, has seen an increase in female slaughter compared to 2016. In July 2017, female cattle slaughter lifted 10% year-on-year, to almost 300,000 head.
Male cattle slaughter in July 2017 increased 21% from year-ago levels, to 336,000 head. Numbers processed for the year-to-date were firm year-on-year, totalling just over 2.2 million head.
Beef and veal production for the month was up 20% from year-ago levels, to just over 190,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt). The total for the year-to-date remained 2% lower year-on-year, to just over 1.2 million tonnes cwt.
Lower grain prices, in the first half of 2017 particularly, saw the number of cattle on feed exceed 1 million head in both the March and June quarters. The greater numbers of cattle finished at heavier weights, combined with lower female slaughter for much of 2017, have contributed to increasing carcase weights. The national average adult carcase weight for the year-to-date was 296.6kg/head, up 4% on the same period in 2016.