Livestock Density Update 2009-2011


Updated information to that provided in Rangelands 2008 - Taking the pulse 

About the report

ACRIS has an embedded process for reporting change in livestock density based on periodic census and surveys of agricultural businesses by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).  Annual stock returns from South Australian pastoralists are now the data source for that state.  The combined data are processed for ACRIS by Queensland Government staff.  ACRIS is not able to quantify the reliability of all regional data derived from ABS sources; past jurisdictional data show there is agreement for some bioregions and differences elsewhere.
Previous reporting covered the periods 1992 to 2002 and 2003 to 2008.  The most recent data show that:

  • Stock density (almost exclusively cattle) has continued to increase in many northern pastoral bioregions.  In particular, 2011 densities were more than double the average between 1984 and 1991 (defined as a base period) in the Daly Basin, Gulf Coastal, Pine Creek, Gulf Fall & Uplands and Davenport Murchison Ranges bioregions (all in the NT).
  • In contrast, regional livestock densities continued to decline between 2009 and 2011 in parts of the south eastern, southern and south western rangelands.  2011 cattle numbers were also reduced in the MacDonnell Ranges and Burt Plain bioregions of the southern NT.
  • In some bioregions, livestock densities appeared to broadly track seasonal quality (indicated by decile rainfall) through the initially drier and then wetter years of the last decade.  This is the expected result and can indicate sustainable grazing management.  In other bioregions, particularly parts of northern and central Australia, reductions in density considerably lagged declining seasonal quality.  Timely monitoring of landscape function and critical stock forage is critical where this is the case.

Kangaroos contribute significantly to total grazing pressure and recent changes in their regional populations are reported in the associated product “ACRIS Kangaroo Density Update 2009-2012”.  Information about feral goats as a component of TGP is available in Distribution, abundance and harvesting of feral goats in the Australian rangelands 1984-2011 and the Australian Feral Camel Management Project is assisting efforts to reduce the impact of camels, particularly on non-pastoral lands.