01 MAR 2024

Cattle price autumn forecast with Simon Quilty

Independent Livestock Analyst, Simon Quilty of Global Agri Trends shares his forecast for cattle prices over the short and long term. 

We have seen a stronger start to 2024, with solid weaner sale prices due to feedlotters looking for cattle as processing prices have lifted. With summer rain across the eastern states, we’re expecting demand for younger cattle to be higher throughout the year due to restocking. In general, there has been a sense of positivity to start the year.

Despite this, the beef herd has gone into a holding pattern, with the female slaughter at 46.9 per cent (pc), just shy of the 47 pc breakeven. When assessing the Q4 female cattle kill by each state, four states are in liquidation, NSW, VIC, SA and WA, but with QLD and TAS rebuilding, this has offset the other states, giving Australia a neutral rebuild outcome.

These figures set the stage for a rebuild that will likely commence late in 2024 for cattle.

Australia’s liquidation has slowed to a neutral state, neither liquidating nor rebuilding. The definition of Australia’s herd rebuilding or liquidating is when the female kill rises above or below a 47 pc kill ratio; when females go above 47 pc, liquidating occurs, and when below, rebuilding occurs.

Queensland received significant rain from November to January, which was in the top 10 pc of 120 years of rainfall records. During the same period, NSW rainfall was in the top 20 pc and Victoria the top 2 pc over the same period.

So, conditions have improved, and therefore, liquidation has slowed. Given Victoria’s massive rainfall, a rebuild has been happening, but due to the excess females from NSW, it has given the impression of liquidation.

Table showing cattle kill ratios per quarter in 2023 Table showing cattle kill ratios per quarter in 2023

When comparing finished cattle prices around the globe, Australia sits third in its value behind Brazil and the United States.  

  • The United States’ finished cattle are sitting at 600 ac/kg liveweight (LW) equivalent. 
  • Brazil is sitting at 445 ac/kg LW equivalent 
  • Australia is at 390 ac/kg LW equivalent.

I believe all three countries cattle are undervalued, with Australia having the greatest upside in improvement over the next three years.

Please note: this article contains information of a general nature, and does not take into account your personal objectives, situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided, and seek advice on whether it is fit for your circumstances.