QUEENSLAND, Australia – Dwindling numbers of cattle in Australia have forced Teys Australia, the country’s second-largest meat processor, to announce cutbacks in slaughter and staff, according to local news reports. Teys Australia is a joint venture formed between Teys Bros. and Cargill Beef Australia in 2011.
In the next two years, Australia’s cattle herd will fall to levels not seen in more than 20 years, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) said in its Australian cattle industry projections 2016 report. “The national herd is estimated to fall to 26.2 million head by 30 June 2016, before declining slightly again in 2017, to 25.9 million head. If this occurs, it will represent a decline of 3.4 million head (12 percent) since 2013 and become the lowest national herd for 24 years (1993),” MLA said in its report.
Speaking to ABC.net, Teys spokesman Tom Maguire said the company plans to reduce daily slaughter to 1,200 head from 1,400 head while restructuring shifts, which will lead to the loss of up to 50 jobs.
Partially offsetting tightened supplies of cattle will be considerably higher carcass weights, MLA said in its report.
“This assumption is based on much lower stocking rates, a greater proportion of lighter northern cattle exported live, a higher proportion of cattle on feed and fewer female cattle processed,” MLA reported. “This ultimately means the forecast drop in beef and veal production will be smaller than for slaughter, though still considerable — down 13 percent, at 2.2 million tonnes cwt in 2016.”
Despite the numbers, MLA said the Australian cattle market will be in a good position in 2016. Additional summer rainfall will act as a catalyst for additional potential cattle price increases.
“The key areas to closely monitor will be the footprint Brazil creates in China, developments in the US beef market, and just how tight Australian cattle supplies become at various times through the year,” MLA said.