Seismic shifts in beef, lamb and mutton
A comprehensive analysis of Australia’s red meat market and outlook at the March Elders Presents online event revealed some seismic shifts at and beyond the farm gate.
Australian Community Media national beef writer Shan Goodwin hosted the event featuring Elders state livestock managers from across the country.
Paul Holm said farmers in central west Queensland were shifting from harvesting to managing goats, thanks to exclusion fencing and increased demand for their meat. Cattle graziers had also adapted.
“The tick line, which was an ever-feared magical fortress that was never to be crossed became only another factor in the cost equation,” Mr Holm said.
“Many Brahmans from Charters Towers enjoyed the improved pastures of Inverell and Gunnedah, and these purchases were, in general, a success. And as weight gain on fresh feed did what it was supposed to do and turned grass into beef.”
He told Ms Goodwin that the movement of Brahmans into northern NSW was likely to become a more established success, given their performance.
His counterpart in the southern zone, Matt Tinkler, said that better seasonal conditions, coupled with demand right up and down the eastern seaboard had underpinned the market. Mr Tinkler said that breeding females were represented more in the market than usual.
“Over a period of time, we’ve had people retaining their older animals and probably selling off the younger animals for good prices,” he said.
“Cattle on feed’s been a large percentage of females and obviously those cattle don’t go back into the system so that’s had a big impact on where prices are today.”
The West Australian sheep flock, said Elders WA state livestock manager Dean Hubbard, was down by about a million head to an estimated 12.7 million.
Sheep live exports had dropped from about 1.2m head two years ago to an expected 650,000 this year. Instead, sheep were travelling to Australia’s eastern states.
“In 2019, our west-east trade in sheep only represented 2pc of our WA annual turnoff,” Mr Hubbard said.
“The alarming figure is that, in 2021, that represents 31pc of what we do in WA, as far as selling sheep goes.”
Mr Hubbard said the WA sheep industry needed to rebuild quickly and that the west to east trade would remain an important part of the mix, if it could be maintained at 700,000 to 800,000 head a year.
“Two million going to the east is not all bad,” he said.
“Live export can recover rapidly and I think long term forward contracting needs to be discussed.”
If you missed the event or would like to learn more, we’ve recorded each presentation for you.