Queensland's beef product

Queensland's beef cattle herd

In 2016-17, Queensland had 11 million head of meat cattle comprising 46.6% of the nation's 23.6 million head. The beef sector has over 11,600 specialist beef enterprises with beef cattle grown across most regions of the state. Gross value of beef production at the farm gate was valued at $5.73 billion in 2016-17. The principal regions where cattle are produced are in the:

  • Fitzroy
  • Desert Channels
  • North Queensland Dry Topics and;
  • Murray Darling Basin.

Queensland's cattle herds are predominantly fed on natural and improved grazing pastures as well as grain supplementation systems. Queensland's extensive areas of native pastures are able to satisfy consumer demand for clean, grass fed beef. Queensland's improved pastures and innovative, sustainable pasture-management systems, are designed to decrease the age of turn off and increase productivity.

As of December 2018, Queensland had 55.5% of the nation's feedlot capacity of over 1.3 million head with an above 85% utilisation rate for the majority of the year. Growth in the feedlot sector has enabled the delivery of more consistent product suited to customer requirements and helps to reduce the impact of seasonal fluctuations. Growth of the sector has allowed the beef industry to access lucrative prime beef markets in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Approximately 30-40% of all Queensland cattle spend some time in a feedlot prior to slaughter.

Queensland's beef processing sector

As Queensland's largest manufacturing industry, the beef processing sector employs an estimated 18,000 workers. Beef is our largest agricultural export with processors exporting meat valued at $4.89 billion in 2017-2018 to 69 countries. Approximately 80.5% of these beef exports are destined for just 5 countries:

  • Japan (31%)
  • South Korea (18.6%)
  • United States (15.6%)
  • China (10.7%) and;
  • Taiwan (3.6%).

Major processors are located on the east coast while the majority of the state's slaughter capacity resides in the south-east corner of the state.

In 2017-18, Queensland slaughtered 3.526 million head of cattle, representing 44.6% of the nation's total slaughter of 7.91 million head. This produced over 1 million tonnes of beef and veal of which 645,000 tonnes was exported at a value of $4.52 billion. If offal, hides and other beef related by-products are included the industry exported a conservative estimate of over $5.3 billion.

Live Cattle Exports

  • In 2017-18, Queensland exported 187,769 head of live cattle valued at $243 million. Principal destinations are Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan.
  • Australia is the only live exporting country that has laws covering the ethical treatment of animals within an approved supply chain within a foreign country. Australian laws hold the exporter responsible for animal welfare through to the point of slaughter.

Queensland cattle breeds

Many years of sustained animal research has been undertaken to make the best possible genetics available to our beef industry.

Queensland's beef industry is based on a diverse gene pool including tropical and temperate breeds. Our herds boast world class genetics, and with the early introduction of Bos Indicus genetics last century, over 80% of Queensland cattle would now have some Bos Indicus content.

Our herds have the Brahman breed as well as Brahman-infused breeds such as Santa Gertrudis, Droughtmaster, Braford and Brangus.

In the subtropical and temperate parts of Queensland, a range of British and European breeds are managed as pure herds, or crossed with Brahman genetics.

The later introduction of Wagyu genetics in the 1980s has allowed herds to be built up to the point where we now have the largest herd outside of Japan.

The Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association (ARCBA) is the peak industry body for the Australian cattle seedstock industry. View a list of breeds associations and contact details.