Grainfed cattle make up 50% of beef production

Key points:

  • In Q1 2021, grainfed and grain-assisted cattle made up more than 50% of beef production for the first quarter ever.
  • The feedlot sector has provided continuity in a period of tight supply.
  • 51% of domestically consumed beef comes from feedlots.

For the first time ever, feedlot cattle made up more than 50% of beef production in Q1 2021. Furthermore, the majority of beef consumed domestically for the quarter was grainfed or grain-assisted.

These calculations show the strength of the feedlot sector. They highlight that the feedlot sector has provided continuity of supply for processors during a period of constrained cattle supply in Australia.

The previous record for grainfed beef production was achieved in Q1 2020, when 49.2% of all beef produced was from feedlots. This trend was not surprising though, as turn-off from feedlots in Q1 2020 accounted for 47% of all cattle processed.

The statistic that more than 50% of domestically consumed beef is from feedlots can also be explained. Increasingly, domestic brands and quality assurance programs are finishing cattle on feed, even if they are not grainfed for 100 days, for consistency purposes.

In Q1 2021, 16% of cattle on feed were on feed for less than 70 days. These animals are referred to as grain-assisted cattle and are typically destined for the domestic market.

Going forward, these trends indicate that the Australian grainfed sector will continue to make up a growing percentage of cattle slaughter and beef production. The sector will also continue to offer processors continuity of consistent supply, painting a positive picture for the future of grainfed cattle in Australia.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021

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