What is a cattle feedlot?
A cattle feedlot is a managed facility where livestock are provided a balanced and nutritious diet for the purpose of producing beef of a consistent quality and quantity. At any one time there are around 2% of Australia’s cattle population located in feedlots. The average period cattle spend in a feedlot is between 50-120 days or around 10-15% of their lifespan.
Why are cattle placed in feedlots?
Cattle are generally taken to feedlots for two main reasons. Firstly, Australia’s dry seasons and/ or dry years result in pastures that have insufficient nutritional value to allow cattle to reach customer requirements in a timely and sustainable manner. Notably, cattle require increasing nutrition as they get older and this places greater pressure on pastures and hence the environment. Secondly, customers in both Australia and our export markets actively demand grain fed beef due to the industry’s ability to consistently meet market requirements in terms of quality and quantity (irrespective of seasons or droughts).
Feeding the Australian economy
The Australian beef industry is the largest agricultural industry in Australia. The cattle feedlot industry has a value of production of approximately $2.5 billion and employs some 28,500 people directly and indirectly.
There are around 450 accredited feedlots throughout Australia with the majority located in areas that are in close proximity to cattle and grain supplies.
Queensland is the largest state in terms of cattle numbers on feed with approximately 60% followed by NSW with 30%, Victoria with 7% and the remainder shared between South Australia and Western Australia.
Grain fed beef – an international commodity
The feedlot sector has grown over the past 20 years. The ability to deliver consistency with respect to quality and quantity (regardless of seasons) is a desirable trait for customers in both domestic and international markets. Approximately 40% of Australia’s total beef supply and 80% of beef sold in major domestic supermarkets is sourced from the cattle feedlot sector.
Two thirds of Australia’s beef production is exported to over 100 international markets. Australia’s hard won reputation as a supplier of ‘clean, green disease free’ beef backed by strong industry systems and brands is a strong selling point in the highly competitive markets in which we operate.