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Cattle Slaughter Up, Production Steady in 2012

11 February 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - Total adult cattle slaughter for 2012 finished one per cent above the previous year’s level, totalling 7.35 million head, while total beef production (2.15 million tonnes cwt) remained steady, as average adult carcase weights slipped back, averaging 287kg/head.

Adult slaughter in January 2012 was significantly higher than the previous year – albeit compared to a flood influenced January 2011, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

Otherwise, adult slaughter for the first six months of the year was down four per cent to six per cent on the corresponding year levels. However, as 2012 progressed and seasonal conditions deteriorated, year-on-year adult slaughter ranged from one per cent to 11 per cent higher, year-on-year.

Driving the rise in slaughter for the second half of 2012 was a kick in female kill, with total cow and heifer slaughter for 2012 totalling 3.21 million head, up three per cent year-on-year.

Following the same trend as total adult slaughter, female slaughter was down from one per cent to seven per cent year-on-year for the first half of 2012 (excluding January), while for the second half of 2012, female slaughter increased by as much as 20 per cent year-on-year during October. After six consecutive months of higher year-on-year female slaughter, it appears as though the national shift from herd rebuilding, to herd consolidation is well underway.

Despite the rise in adult slaughter, the increased female proportion - which was more than likely made up of older cows that had been retained to take advantage of the wet January 2010 to July 2012 period, underpinned the flat production levels. However, reflecting the excellent pasture conditions at the beginning of 2012, average carcase weights were in fact 5 per cent above the five-year average.

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