For the first time since March last year, total cattle slaughter fell below last year's levels this August.
Total slaughter was still above the five year average and well in front of 2017, so we can't say supply was tight (Figure 1).
Female cattle slaughter fell more heavily than total slaughter rates, with 7 per cent fewer cows and heifers processed in August, relative to July.
Compared to last year, however, female slaughter continues to run hot, posting a 6pc increase.
In August we saw the Female Slaughter Ratio (FSR) fall to a six month low of 55.5pc (Figure 2).
Male cattle slaughter makes an interesting study.
Compared to 2018, male cattle slaughter was 7pc lower in August this year and 8pc down on the August five year average.
For the year to date, male cattle slaughter is 5.2pc lower than last year.
Declining male cattle slaughter gives us an indication of how the drought has impacted the calf crop and what to expect when it does rain.
Fewer cows and poor marking rates are no doubt responsible for falling male cattle slaughter, which is likely to decline further next year.
What does it mean?
With more cattle being killed this year, and many more females, supply has to decline at some stage.
We know that when the drought breaks supply is going to get very tight, and we are likely to see new record low supply in the coming year.
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