SYDNEY, Australia – Persistent dry weather conditions and foreign demand for Australian beef supported rising numbers of grain-fed cattle in feedlots, the Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) reported.

The most recent survey of feedlots revealed cattle-on-feed numbers climbed 7 percent in September to 908,000 head of cattle. ALFA said the latest figures represent the highest cattle-on-feed numbers since December 2006, and only the third time in the history of the feedlot industry that the number exceeded 900,000 head.

“The increase in feedlot cattle numbers was driven by Queensland and NSW [New South Wales], hardly surprising given the lack of rain in these states along with their respective importance to overall industry capacity.” Don Mackay, ALFA president, said in a statement.

Prices for yearling steers saw an 8 percent year-over-year increase, averaging 193 cents per kilogram lwt nationally.

Export figures for grain-fed beef jumped 11 percent to 59,581 swt in the June quarter, and 9 percent year-over-year. The year-to-September volume totaled 165,663 tonnes swt, up 10 percent over a year ago. September quarter grain-fed beef exports to the United States increased 31 percent year-over-year to 4,507 tonnes, while exports to the European Union surged 143 percent year-over-year to 2,838 tonnes swt.

September quarter grain fed beef exports to China saw a 72 percent year-over-year decline to 1,635 tonnes swt.