Culling in the name of drought

Culling in the name of drought

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The Stock Take: Mecardo's Matt Dalgleish writes about the female cull rate.

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The record cull of female cattle as a proportion of total slaughter continues according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) update.

The female slaughter ratio (FSR) climbed again during May to reach a record peak of 58.2 per cent and we have now seen three consecutive months with an FSR above 58pc, bringing the annual ratio to 55.9pc for 2019.

Rainfall deciles across the east coast states for the last three months show that the impact of the dry season is hitting NSW the hardest. Half of the state is suffering under very much below average rainfall conditions.

In contrast, most of Victoria is showing average to above average conditions.

Meanwhile, Queensland is displaying predominantly average conditions with pockets of below and above average conditions scattered across the state.

FIGURE 3: Females slaughter ratio- NSW, QLD and Vic. Despite the particularly dry season experienced by NSW, it is Queensland and Victoria that has been probing into record elevated female slaughter ratio territory.

FIGURE 3: Females slaughter ratio- NSW, QLD and Vic. Despite the particularly dry season experienced by NSW, it is Queensland and Victoria that has been probing into record elevated female slaughter ratio territory.

Interestingly, it's not just the drier than normal states, like NSW, that are contributing to the elevated female slaughter ratio.

The Victorian FSR spent much of the last decade below 65pc yet in recent months it has tested toward 70pc twice.

The climax of the 2014/15 drought saw the Queensland FSR hit a record peak at 51.8pc in April 2014 and in the last few months has surged toward 55pc.

In contrast, the NSW FSR has not yet been able to get above the 56.2pc recorded in May 2016 (Figure 3).

What does this mean?

This level of female slaughter is unsustainable long term and will retract quickly when conditions allow a return to the herd rebuild. Unfortunately, the rainfall outlook to October signals the dry will persist.

Once decent conditions return the scramble to get hold of breeding stock won't be limited to drought affected regions.

The story Culling in the name of drought first appeared on Farm Online.

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