AUSTRALIA - Australian cattle carcase weights rose by two per cent year-on-year for a February average of averaged 282kg, but still well below the monthly peaks of 290kg in the very wet years of 2011 and 2012, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Meat and Livestock Australia said that every drought over the past 40 years has seen a subsequent decline in average adult carcase weights, as producers are forced to turnoff greater numbers of unfinished cattle.
However, it said that considering a 12-month rolling average, carcase weights are currently four per cent below the peak in 2012.
However, even though much of western Queensland and New South Wales is still widely drought affected, carcase weights began to rise at the beginning of 2015.
Most likely, this can be attributed to the high numbers of cattle going through the feedlot system. In the December quarter ALFA/MLA feedlot survey, cattle on feed were estimated to be the highest on record, at almost 965,000 head – three per cent above the mid-2006 peak of 940,000 head.
These high numbers of grain finished cattle came through to slaughter throughout the beginning of 2015 and are likely to continue supporting carcase weights over the coming months.
MLA added that while the changes in carcase weights are small, between two and four per cent, when considered across a whole industry they have a significant impact on output.
The high cattle slaughter over the past 18 months has offset the lower carcase weights, but there is incentive to produce heavier cattle.
The eastern states trade cattle indicator consistently trades at a premium to heavies, however in 2013 and 2014 it only traded 6¢/kg and 2¢/kg, respectively, over the heavy steer indicator, down from the 22¢/kg premium in 2011 and 16¢/kg lwt premium in 2012.
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