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Low cattle prices boost feedlot numbers

Neroli Roocke, Wednesday August 21, 2013 - 13:41 EST
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A tractor distributing grain to cattle in a Queensland feedlot. - ABC

Feedlot operators believe they've hit the peak of cattle numbers coming from regions in drought or unable to export.

The number of cattle on grain around Australia was 873,000 in the past quarter, almost 100,000 more than were in feedlots in the same period last year.

The number is also up 9 per cent on the March quarter.

While the increases in Western Australia (39 per cent) and Queensland (11 per cent) were attributed to the dry weather and trade problems, Victoria's 26 per cent increase was explained by lower grain and winter cattle prices.

Don Mackay, of the Lot Feeders' Association, says feedlots are at 73 per cent capacity overall.

He doubts that figure will climb higher, as cattle prices have risen slightly and grain prices are also increasing.

"The extremely low costs for cattle that followed the beginning of mustering in northern Australia following a very dry wet season made a big difference, but some of those effects are starting to be countered by grain costs."

The association says Darling Downs barley is up 49 per cent on this time last year, sorghum 57 per cent and wheat 39 per cent.


© ABC 2013

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