Livestock sector buoyed

SHORT SUPPLY: is driving up prices for cattle as the market enters into one of the best springs, for producers, in recent memory.

By Leon Georgiou

STRONG sales and favourable weather conditions continue to buoy the region’s livestock producers as the sector heads into the spring season.

Miller Whan and John director Andrew Whan, who took over as Combined Agents chair in June, was optimistic about the market conditions.

“The season is shaping up very well… It’ll be outstanding for the producers, both the fatteners and the breeders,” he said.

“All predictions are on the cattle price along the eastern seaboard are going to be very, very strong.

“There is still going to be a lack of supply going forward and lack of supply wise, well, nine times out of 10 means higher prices.”

Meat and Livestock Australia market information manager Stephen Bignell said the decrease in supply was being driven by the continuation of favourable weather conditions throughout most of the livestock producing regions around Australia, leading to an abundance of feed, along with the ongoing national herd rebuild – with cattle numbers estimated to reach 26 million head this year, 5pc above 2020 levels.

“Currently there is an abundance of feed which is encouraging stock retention,” Mr Bignell said.

Mr Whan elaborated on how these conditions affected the Mount Gambier and District Saleyards.

“Not only are they restocking their paddocks, but they’re joining females for future production, so that takes those females out of the [supply chain],” Mr Whan said.

“So you’ve now got both feedlots and meat companies buying for cattle to feed and be killed so it’s forcing a very strong market.

“It takes time to build up the herd, to build up cattle numbers. It doesn’t just happen overnight.”

And whilst Meat and Livestock Australia are forecasting a decrease in the 2021 slaughter numbers – as producers retain more stock – it is expected to pick up again toward the end of the year as more cattle come off feed.

But its not just a positive market outlook driving up confidence around the saleyards.

Now two months into his tenure as Combined Agent chair, Mr Whan is looking to continue pushing forward with the infrastructure upgrades that have been taking place over the past 12 months.

“We’ve had a good last 12 months with the new ramps and everything like that progressing out the back now, like the new road train and sidelining ramp,” he said.

“What I really want to see is to keep pursuing the federal government for grants to enable the planned reroofing and soft flooring to come in here at the Mount Gambier saleyards.”

Both the Grant District Council and State Government have already committed funds to the project and it is hoped the Federal Government – under the Building Better Regions Fund – will also commit funding to the significant infrastructure project.

Previous Combined Agent chair Sam O’Connor said there had been some delays by the Federal Government in processing the saleyard’s funding application due to a cabinet reshuffle and Parliament’s winter recess.

It is expected an outcome to the application will be announced within the next six weeks.

“It will obviously be wonderful for the saleyards but also for the region,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The city of Mount Gambier benefits greatly from the economic activity out at the saleyards.”