Average Cattle Weights Reach New High

AUSTRALIA - The much improved season across Australia has underpinned the record high national average carcase weight during the March quarter. The national average reached 289kg/head during the first quarter of 2012 – one per cent higher year-on-year and five per cent, or nearly 15kg/head, above the five-year average (Australian Bureau of Statistics).
calendar icon 14 May 2012
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According to Meat and Livestock Australia, the significant gains in average carcase weights have underpinned the rise in production for the period. Average carcase weights in Queensland (305kg/head) and New South Wales (287kg/head) all registered record highs, while all other states were only slightly below their respective records. Average adult carcase weights during the March quarter in Tasmania (290kg/head), South Australia (286kg/head), Victoria (262kg/head) and West Australia (259kg/head) were all well above their five-year average.

Total beef and veal production during the March quarter totalled 513,754 tonnes cwt – two above the corresponding period last year and one higher than the five-year average. Most of the improvement in production against the March quarter 2011 and the five-year average can be attributed to significant gains in Queensland, with production increasing five and eight, respectively, at 243,778 tonnes cwt.

Supporting the rise in beef production (504,657 tonnes cwt) during the first quarter of 2012 was a slight increase in adult slaughter, which totalled 1.746 million head. While this was one per cent, or 17,600 head, higher than the March quarter in 2011, adult slaughter was still back five per cent, or 84,000 head, on the five-year average. With numbers in the last three March quarters the lowest since 2002 (1.721 million head), it is evident that producers have taken the opportunity to rebuild herd numbers after the drought years.

The overall decline in adult slaughter was underpinned by a fall in female processing, with female slaughter during the March quarter reaching 770,300 head, slightly lower than the same time last year. However, slaughter was back 11 per cent, or 98,600 head, on the five-year average and the lowest March quarter since 1996. Victoria (197,700 head), South Australia (43,800 head) and Tasmania (29,500 head) recorded a rise in female slaughter during the March quarter, increasing 22 per cent, six per cent and two per cent year-on-year, respectively.

Queensland (294,400 head), New South Wales (159,500 head) and West Australia (45,500 head) all registered a decline in female slaughter over the same period, falling three per cent, 10 per cent and 23 per cent year-on-year, respectively.

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