Cattle on feed numbers reported a 7% decline in the June 2020 quarter to 1,010,192 head, according to the latest feedlot survey.
Despite sustained demand for high-quality grainfed product in overseas and domestic markets, the impact of improved seasonal conditions and subsequent restocker demand has pressured the lot feeding industry.
Numbers on feed have fallen to their lowest point since December 2017, sitting 3% below the ve-year average for the June quarter.
National feedlot capacity continued to expand, increasing 2.5% from the March quarter to a record 1,432,989 head, demonstrating confidence in the future of the lot feeding sector remains strong.
Queensland was the only state to report an increase in cattle on feed from the March quarter, up 1% to 611,683 head.
Cattle on feed in New South Wales and South Australia both declined by 13% to 263,489 and 40,714 head respectively, while numbers in Victoria eased 19% to 57,211 head.
The seasonal nature of the Western Australian lot feeding industry saw the state report a 38% decline in numbers on feed from the March quarter to 37,096 head.
Australian grainfed exports remained stable with the March quarter, totalling 78,076 tonnes shipped weight (swt) for the June quarter, back 2% from year-ago levels.
Volumes to Japan, Australia’s largest export market for grainfed beef, reported a 5% increase from the previous quarter to 35,708 tonnes swt, 1% below June 2019 levels.
Exports to Korea totalled 14,289 tonnes swt, a 14% increase from the March quarter and 4% higher than year-ago levels. Volumes to China reported a modest decline from the previous quarter, totalling 19,426 tonnes swt, however remaining 9% above year-ago levels.
In line with reduced cattle on feed, national feedlot utilisation eased 8% in the June quarter to 70%, with all states recording strong declines with the exception of Queensland which remained stable with the previous quarter. Utilisation in Western Australia was back 31% in the June quarter, while Victoria and New South Wales declined by 18% and 14%, respectively. South Australia feedlot utilisation was back 12% on the March quarter.