Meat & Livestock News

Slaughter Rates in Australia Reach New Highs as the Year Progresses


  • Last week marked the highest adult cattle slaughter rate for the year, reaching 127,465 head, the largest since May 2020.
  • Queensland led with a significant increase in slaughter rates, while New South Wales saw a slight decline. Victoria also experienced a sharp rise in numbers.
  • Despite weather challenges affecting livestock transport to plants, direct consignment grid prices remain steady, with expectations of delayed large runs of slaughter cattle until after Easter due to recent rainfall.

The latest national slaughter statistics reveal a significant uptick in adult cattle slaughter rates, hitting 127,465 head for the week ended Friday, marking the highest point of the year. This surge is notable, being the largest weekly kill since May 2020, which was influenced by the tail-end of drought conditions. Queensland saw a substantial increase to 64,553 head, attributed to new weekly shifts at some plants and the clearing of supply blockages caused by persistent rain.

Conversely, New South Wales experienced a slight decrease, while Victoria’s numbers rose sharply.

Female slaughter accounted for 46.8% of the overall kill, closely approaching the 47% threshold that indicates whether herd rebuilding or contraction is occurring.

Despite the fluctuations in slaughter rates, direct consignment grid prices across eastern Australia have remained largely unchanged, although processors note localised challenges in transporting stock to plants due to weather disruptions. The forward supply is now tighter than in recent weeks, with no changes in offer prices following a widespread 10c/kg drop a fortnight ago.

In Queensland, competitive processors are offering 500-510c/kg for heavy cows and 550c/kg for heavy grass four-tooth steers. Central Queensland rates are similar or slightly lower. Recent rainfall across parts of Queensland is expected to delay significant runs of slaughter cattle from Central and northwestern areas until after Easter. In southern states, direct consignment rates remain steady, with heavy cows quoted at 490c in southern NSW and 540c for steers, mirroring last week’s rates.

The export grinding beef market has seen a lift over the past month, bolstering demand for slaughter cows and supporting margins across all slaughter categories through trimmings. Queensland grain fed processors are offering forward contracts for 100-day cattle for May delivery at 700c/kg. With Easter occurring early this year, there are concerns about processing congestion due to holiday-shortened production weeks, followed closely by the ANZAC day holiday.