Australian Cattle-Herd Rebuild Seen Ending as Farmers Boost Cull

Cattle-herd expansion ended in Australia after dry weather curbed restocking demand, prompting farmers to boost slaughter in the world’s third-biggest beef and veal exporter, according to an industry group.

The herd may total 28 million head on June 30, 2014 from 28.25 million on the same date this year, Meat & Livestock Australia said in a report today. That compares with a January forecast for 29.8 million in June 2013 and 30 million in 2014.

Total beef and veal exports may drop to 990,000 metric tons shipped weight in 2014 from a record 1 million tons this year, the group estimates. Prices tumbled to an almost 3-1/2 year low in May after dry weather in parts of northern Australia damaged pastures and increased slaughter. More than 40 percent of Queensland, the top beef producer, was in drought as of June 28, according to the state government. The national herd peaked at about 29 million head in June 2012, the group said.

“As a consequence of the high turnoff this year, and on top of large throughput in the final quarter of 2012, the expansion of the Australian cattle herd has finished,” it said. “Combined with the anticipated poorer branding and calving rates for the coming year, the Australian herd is expected to decline further.”

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator, which measures prices at auctions in the nation’s east, stood at A$3.303 ($3.06) a kilogram today. Prices slumped to A$2.787 May 14, the lowest since Dec. 14, 2009.

Editors: Ovais Subhani, Jake Lloyd-Smith

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