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The physical flow account for livestock records the supply and use of livestock products in physical terms, generally tonnes. For each product, the account records the total supply from the Australian agricultural industry and from the rest of the world, and the total use of this supply in the domestic economy and internationally. The scope of this physical flow account is the rearing of livestock and the supply of all livestock products. Most of these products are the result of managed rearing of livestock, but can also include harvesting wild animals or their products.
The asset account for livestock shows the total number of livestock by type of animal, and changes in the number of livestock over an accounting period. The scope of the asset account is cultivated livestock – animals bred and managed as a process of production by economic units.
Livestock asset accounts record the opening and closing stock of each type of livestock, and additions and reductions over the accounting period. The opening stock plus additions less reductions should equal the closing stock. Additions to stock includes increased numbers of livestock such as births and other additions such as domestication of wild animals. Reductions in stock include livestock that is slaughtered or processed, live animal exports and other reductions in stock (such as losses caused by drought or disease) and downward reappraisals in stock estimates.
According to the SEEA AFF framework, a distinction is made between the product of raising and breeding livestock and the products derived from them. The product of raising and breeding livestock should always be considered an agricultural activity, whereas the treatment of the products derived from livestock varies according to the product. In general, livestock products that require the killing of an animal, for meat or hides for example, are considered to be outputs of the manufacturing industry. Products obtained from animals on an ongoing basis (such as eggs, milk or wool) are considered outputs of the agricultural industry.
POLICY RELEVANCE AND USE
Livestock industries have played a significant role in the development of Australia, both in terms of offering essential food sources and being a principal source of exports leading to economic growth. Increased biosecurity standards, disease prevention and use of technology are examples of important considerations for the industry.
Agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources provide advice to the Australian Government on the livestock industry to support their continued development and growth. This involves liaison with industry, community and government, particularly through representative organisations and agencies. The Australian Government document Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper contains an overarching policy vision of a more profitable, more resilient and more sustainable agriculture sector, including livestock operations. It sets out a number of initiatives and goals, for example reducing costs, promoting export market access, building infrastructure, creating well-paying jobs and maintaining access to high quality and affordable food for all Australians.
All of these goals may be informed by environmental accounts. In particular, a comprehensive assessment of the profitability of livestock operations is obtained through SEEA AFF measures of output and value added for these activities. Environmental accounts support productivity measurement and can be designed to assess specific policy goals; for example, where policy agencies have secured improved access to export markets the accounts can reveal uptake on these opportunities.
Information provided through environmental accounts assists in understanding the carrying capacity of agricultural areas with respect to livestock, for instance the number of cattle per hectare, and estimating the potential output of livestock products and associated environmental impacts.
Over half of the Australian agricultural industry is devoted to livestock production. According to the Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, 2015-16 (cat. no. 7503.0), livestock accounted for an estimated 51% of the total gross value of agricultural commodities produced nationally. Meat products also had a visible presence in Australian merchandise trade levels, accounting for 3% of the total merchandise trade in 2015-16.
Physical flow account
The physical flow accounts are available in Tables 5 and 6 from the Downloads tab. The accounts in this publication include livestock breeding cattle (both dairy and meat), sheep and lambs, pigs, and chickens.
Australia exports substantially more live animals (raising and breeding) and livestock products than it imports. Significantly more livestock enters the domestic market for slaughtering than is traded to the overseas market via live animal exports. For instance, exports of live cattle account for 12% of total supply, whereas exports of beef account for 57% of the total supply.
In 2015-16 in terms of livestock output, chickens had the highest output in terms of number of head (623 million), followed by sheep and lambs, cattle and pigs. However, in terms of overall tonnes of production, meat cattle were the most prominent meat commodity, followed by chickens. Meat cattle (beef and veal production) also had the highest number of exports of all Australian meat products in 2015-16.
Meat cattle production fell between 2014-15 and 2015-16 in physical terms by 12% after increasing every year since 2011-12 (Graph 1). Despite this, the gross value of meat cattle production increased by 13% over the time period. An increasing value per tonne of beef in Australian exports assists to explain this.
GRAPH 1. MEAT PRODUCTION, Australia, 2010-11 to 2015-16
In terms of state breakdowns, Queensland had the highest output for meat cattle production in physical terms, accounting for 47% of total meat cattle (beef and calf meat) in 2015-16. South Australia had the highest figures for pig production with 24% of the Australian total. Victoria had the highest slaughter rate of sheep and lambs with 13.7 million sheep slaughtered in 2015-16. This is despite NSW having the highest number of sheep and lambs on holdings with 26.0 million head in comparison to 13.1 million head in Victoria. This may be connected to the high amount of wool production in NSW, which was 111,000 tonnes or 31% of the total Australian production.
The livestock asset account in this publication presents opening and closing stocks, and the net change in stock. These are available nationally in Table 7 and for the states and territories in Table 5 from the Downloads tab.
Graph 2 illustrates the estimated percentage net change in stock numbers of livestock. In 2015-16, chickens (layers and pullets) had the largest increase (almost 14%) in stock. This was followed by meat chickens which recorded an increase of 4%. The number of pigs increased by almost 1%, while dairy cattle recorded the largest decrease of 2%.
GRAPH 2. NET CHANGE IN LIVESTOCK, Australia, 2015-16
Graph 3 shows that chickens had the highest numbers of livestock on holdings with an estimated 109.6 million head in 2015-16. Sheep and lambs (67.5 million) were the next most abundant type of livestock. New South Wales had the most sheep, followed by Victoria (Graph 4). The account also shows live animal exports far exceeded live animal imports for all included animals. For example, in 2015-16, 1.2 million cattle were exported, with minimal imports.
GRAPH 3. NUMBER OF LIVESTOCK ON HOLDINGS, Australia, 2015-16
GRAPH 4. NUMBER OF LIVESTOCK ON HOLDINGS, by state, 2015-16
Graph 5 shows that milk had the highest value of non-meat based livestock products. In 2015-16 the value of milk production was $4,282 million, followed by wool (with a gross value of $2,964 million) and eggs (with a gross value of $783 million). However, the value of milk production decreased by 9% between 2014-15 and 2015-16 (partly driven by low world markets, price decreases and weather conditions), while in contrast wool increased by 11% over the same period.
GRAPH 5: GROSS VALUE OF SELECTED LIVESTOCK PRODUCTS, 2010-11 to 2015-16
Graph 6 shows that Victoria recorded the highest milk production of all states from both a value and physical production perspective, accounting for 62% of national value and 65% of gross production.
GRAPH 6: GROSS VALUE OF SELECTED LIVESTOCK PRODUCTS, BY STATE, 2010-11 to 2015-16
In relation to physical production, Graph 7 shows that New South Wales had the highest production of wool and eggs of all states, accounting for 31% and 32% respectively. Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia were other important wool-producing states, while Victoria and Queensland were also important egg-producing states.
GRAPH 7: PHYSICAL PRODUCTION OF SELECTED LIVESTOCK PRODUCTS, BY STATE, 2010-11 TO 2015-16
MEASUREMENT GAPS AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES
Expanded data and methods will be explored to support greater analysis of opening and closing stock changes in the livestock asset account.
The supply of livestock (output) numbers represent the number of livestock that leave the farm for the abattoir; these estimates were taken from Livestock and Meat, Australia, 2017 (cat. no. 7218.0.55.001). Slaughter numbers were then used as a proxy for the supply of livestock numbers from the agricultural industry. No identified regular sub-national estimates of livestock are compiled in Australia. Some inconsistencies exist in the state data due of transport of livestock between states for slaughter, agistment or breeding.
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