cattle - breed composition

The proportions of the different cattle breeds in the Australian beef herd have changed between 1989 90 and 1999 2000 (TABLE 1), largely reflecting growth in the northern beef cattle herds and the product requirements of the feedlot industry and the growing live cattle export trade.

The proportion of bos indices / bos taurus cross cattle in the national herd increased markedly between 1996 97 and 1999 2000. The increase was driven mainly by the very large increases in cattle numbers throughout central Queensland regions, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Bos indices / bos taurus cross cattle constitute the majority of the herd in these regions and the popularity of bos indices / bos taurus crosses has increased in recent years. In central Queensland, for example, beef cattle numbers are estimated to have increased by 40 per cent between 1996 97 and 1999 2000.

The majority of live cattle importers request at least 50 per cent brahman content and this requirement is reflected in an increase in pure bred brahman cattle from 8.8 per cent of the national herd in 1989 90 to 13.2 per cent in 1999 2000, a change predominant in the more northern beef producing regions.

The proportion of angus cattle increased from 4.2 per cent of the national herd in 1989 90 to 9.1 per cent in 1999 2000, and British breed crosses (especially angus cross) have increased from 1.1 to 11.0 per cent in that period. The latter increases reflected increased demand for these breeds.


TABLE 1 % COMPOSITION OF THE AUSTRALIAN BEEF HERD, BY MAJOR BREED AT 30 JUNE

1990
1994 1997 2000p
Hereford
26.7
22.1
19.7
11.2 (9)
Angus
4.2
5.7
9.0
9.1 (16)
Other British breeds
11.2
6.8
6.5 5.8 (22)
European breeds
3.1
1.3
0.6
2.1 (23)
Brahman
8.8
13.4
17.4
13.2 (13)
Santa gertrudis
2.8
3.8 5.2
5.0 (20)
Other tropical breeds 
6.3
4.0
4.6 6.2 (19)
British breed cross
1.1
9.6
11.0 11.0 (12)
British/ European cross
7.4
5.2
4.2
5.5 (11)
Indicus/taurus cross
22.8
19.2
14.6
26.4 (26)
Other (a)
5.5
8.9
7.1 4.6 (22)
TOTAL:
100
100
100
100
 
a Includes mainly dairy breeds used for beef production and dairy beef cross cattle. p Preliminary estimate.
Note: Figures in parentheses are relative standard errors. A guide to interpreting these measures of sample variation is included in 'Survey methods and definitions', as are explanations of other items.


The long term future of the Australian beef industry is promising in light of the strength of other rural commodities and reasonably strong beef prices. The opening of Japanese and Korean markets and comparative safety of beef production should lead to increased production particularly if the marketing campaigns to stimulate the consumption of Australian beef overseas are successful.