A Quirindi feedlot manager and a leading Australian livestock body are predicting cattle supplies to remain tight in 2018.
Killara Feedlot trading manager Andrew Talbot has backed predictions from Meat and Livestock Australia for cattle supplies to remain tight in 2018 due to current dry weather conditions following on from a dry winter around the state.
Mr Talbot told Fairfax Media while supplies have not been very tight yet, “it could happen”.
“Most producers are selling their calves now when they’re lighter because of high grain prices,” Mr Talbot said.
“So these calves that are being sold a little lighter now would normally be sold a little bit later in the year, which means that there is likely to be a gap in the market some time later in the year possibly around June or July.”
The view that lighter cattle are being sold earlier than normal has been echoed by MLA’s market intelligence manager, Scott Tolmie, who puts the trend down to dry pasture conditions.
“This has meant many young cattle were pushed into feedlots in 2017 due to lack of decent pasture, stock that otherwise would have been finished in the paddock and come to market in 2018,” Mr Tolmie said.
“This is part of the reason there is an expectation of tighter slaughter numbers than previously forecast in 2018, as these producers, particularly in Queensland, look to rekindle rebuilding efforts.”
Mr Talbot said local weather conditions are having an impact on local producers rebuilding their herds.
“Parts of the Hunter Valley and the Liverpool Plains are some of the driest in the state,” Mr Talbot said.
“That means that heard rebuild around the area has slowed down due to weather, in saying that though we are seeing some green pockets in parts of the New England which has seen some producers out that way buy stock and allow them the time to finish on green pasture.”
The Quirindi feedlot manager said cattle producers are doing everything they can to combat the dry pastoral conditions.
“Most are doing their best and sacrificing their current calves for their cows,” he said.
“There is only so much they can do and we are likely to see a big turn-off in the coming months.”
MLA’S Scott Tolmie said that while supplies will be tight in the middle of the year carcase weights are expected to ease back in line with long-term trends after a record year in 2017 when carcase weights averaged 298kg.
“If the three-month rainfall outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) comes to fruition for February to April, it is likely to see tight supplies in certain regions, particularly through the mid part of the year,” he said.
“An easing of carcase weights combined with a forecast increase in slaughter is expected to result in total beef production this year lifting 1 per cent to 2.17 million tonnes cwt.
“That’s an increase on both 2016 and 2017 figures, but well down on the drought impacted levels of 2013-2015. Overall, the modest increase in slaughter is expected to more than outweigh the anticipated drop in carcase weights.”
The BOM are predicting more dry weather to come with only 0.4mm of rainfall expected in the next week following only 17.8mm of rainfall in Gunnedah for the month of January.