Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Update: Weather Affects Slaughter Rates and Central Queensland Adjusts Prices


  • Recent weather conditions have continued to disrupt cattle slaughter access in Queensland and northern NSW, with some regions experiencing significant rainfall.
  • Central Queensland (CQ) processors have reduced their prices by 10c/kg due to an increase in cattle supply, diverging from the stable prices in southern Queensland.
  • Despite challenges in securing cattle due to weather, processors are nearing their supply requirements for the Easter period, with adjustments in processing schedules anticipated.

The weather has once again influenced cattle slaughter rates in Queensland and northern New South Wales, maintaining a pattern seen throughout the early months of the year. Localised storms have compounded the difficulties in transporting cattle to slaughterhouses, particularly in Southeast Queensland, which saw up to 100 mm of rainfall recently.

This has led to shortened processing rosters for some large export plants as they head into March, with several plants reporting a loss of 6-9 decks for this week’s scheduled kills.

The upcoming Easter period, which features consecutive four-day working weeks, is now on the horizon for livestock managers. JBS Dinmore, for example, will operate a three-day working week following Easter, with its current shifts not running on Fridays.

Despite the logistical challenges posed by the weather, one major Queensland processor noted that his company is close to securing its cattle requirements up to the Easter weeks.

In Central Queensland, the three large export plants—Teys Lakes Creek and Biloela, and JBS Rockhampton—have seen a 10c/kg reduction in pricing for direct consignment slaughter cattle, now lagging behind rates in southern parts of Queensland by 10c/kg.

This adjustment reflects the increasing cattle numbers coming forward from the region, setting CQ plant rates at 490c/kg for heavy cows and 540c/kg for four-tooth grass ox, compared to 500 c and 550c in southern Queensland.

Historically, CQ plants have operated with a 10c/kg price differential compared to the state’s southeast, attributed to freight costs. However, until this week, prices between CQ and southern Queensland plants had been aligned in 2024, indicating the local supply state.

The distinction in pricing also highlights the logistical considerations for cattle consignments between Central and Southern Queensland, with the ‘Goyder line’ around Wandoan/Theodore serving as a reference point for freight decisions.

In the feeder market, prices remain stable, with heavy feeders in southern Queensland trading at 350c/kg and Angus ex-downs at 360c/kg. Despite earlier difficulties in sourcing feeders due to wet conditions, most grain-fed supply chains have now secured sufficient numbers. However, transporting feeders from wet paddocks to feed yards remains a challenge for some.

Saleyards across eastern and southern Australia are seeing a general increase in slaughter-type cattle offerings, with notable rises in numbers at Gunnedah, Wodonga, Roma, Dalby, and Tamworth sales. This uptick is partly due to drying conditions in some areas, facilitating greater market participation.

This week’s developments in the beef processing sector reflect the ongoing impact of weather on operational efficiencies and market dynamics, with processors adapting to the evolving supply landscape as they approach the Easter period.