Cattle market set to ‘level out’ after highs | Video

IN THE BOX SEAT: Buyers, livestock agents and vendors are pictured at the Wagga sale. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
IN THE BOX SEAT: Buyers, livestock agents and vendors are pictured at the Wagga sale. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

AFTER three years of consecutive highs for the beef cattle sector new data shows that markets have started to plateau. 

For centres like Wagga where big numbers of cattle go under the hammer each week the highs have been experienced first hand.

However, the latest market analyis from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) shows that the market might be starting to level which will help restockers to secure supplies. 

Key points:

  • Australian cattle prices now lower than year-ago levels, and production higher
  • Record carcase weights expected to boost production by 2 per cent 
  • Exports forecast to exceed one million tonnes shipped weight

The mid-year cattle industry update cites poor July-to-September rainfall outlook for southern Australia following the dry autumn, 20-year low female slaughter and volatile global market activity for the plateau. 

MLA’s manager of market information Ben Thomas said the turning point for Australian beef came in June when eastern states’ slaughter consistently tracked higher than year-ago levels for the first time since 2014. 

“These trends are likely to remain in place for the remainder of 2017,” he said. 

Despite a softening in the market, Mr Thomas said Australian cattle prices are unlikely to drop back to pre-2013 levels.

This was attributed to the fact that restockers were still active in the market.

Mr Thomas said record low female cattle slaughter as a result of the ongoing national herd re-build had impacted many parts of the industry.

“After the first four months of 2017, female cattle slaughter was just 973,000 head – the lowest since 1995 and representing 45 per cent  of the overall adult kill, three percentage points below the 10-year average of 48 per cent,” Mr Thomas said.

“The adult cattle kill was 13 per cent  below 2016 levels at 2.16 million head after the first four months of the year, also the lowest since 1995,” he said. 

“The result is a small revision to the annual total, to be steady with 2016 at 7.25 million head, compared to April estimates of 7.1 million head,” he said.