AJ Bush's David Kassulke says Beaudesert cattle prices high amid relief from drought conditions

GREENER PASTURES: David Kassulke says cattle prices are high amid good conditions for farmers.
GREENER PASTURES: David Kassulke says cattle prices are high amid good conditions for farmers.

THE national cattle herd has entered a rebuilding phase, pushing up prices right across the country, including Beaudesert.

Meat and Livestock Australia's 2021 Cattle Industry Projections forecast a 2 per cent growth in the herd to 25.2 million head.

The rebuild comes after cattle numbers fell to 24.6 million head in 2020 - their lowest level since the early 1990s - as a result of the drought.

This year began with a reduced herd, record high prices and a global market trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Kassulke from AJ Bush said prices at the Bartholomew & Co sale on the weekend illustrated the strength of the market.

"Weaner steers sold for $1460, and we saw the heifers selling for $1320. That's pretty good," he said.

"When we started selling in 2009, really good calves straight off the cow, they might make $300 to $400 a head.

"Then there were some good seasons and they went up to $1000 and everyone thought it was unbelievable.

"Then we had the drought and people without feed had to push cattle off their properties. Those cattle that were worth $1000 would drop back to about $300.

"Now it's a nice opportunity that farmers can make a living off the land.

"The meat guys will tell you that's unsustainable and maybe it is, but at the moment I'm not complaining. We're happy to make hay while the sun shines."

Summer rain is expected to produce an abundance of pasture in all major cattle producing regions across the country.

"You go driving around the district, you can't see the fences because the grass is too high, which is such a nice turnaround from 12 months ago when feed was being trucked up from Victoria," Mr Kassulke said.

MLA market information manager Stephen Bignell said supply was expected to tighten as producers retained more breeding stock to rebuild their herds.

"Producer preferences to hold onto young cattle rather than turn them off into the vealer market is already evident," he said.

"During the first few weeks of 2021, yardings and slaughter numbers have been down on year-ago levels.

"As the rebuild gains momentum ... total adult cattle slaughter is forecast to fall 3 per cent on 2020 levels, to hit 6.9 million head, the lowest in 25 years."

Mr Bignell said beef exports are expected to lift 2 per cent in 2021 to 1.1 million tonnes shipped weight, growing to 1.2 million tonnes shipped weight in 2023.

"In 2020, COVID-19 affected demand for beef in key markets due to the global drop in foodservice activity and market access issues. Global growth GDP of 5 per cent is forecast in 2021, which should see global demand for beef rebound," Mr Bignell said.

A cattle sale is being held at the Beaudesert showgrounds on Friday, February 12 from 1pm.

For more information, visit the Elders Beaudesert Facebook page.