Cattle prices soar after 20-year herd low

AAP

Beef and live cattle prices will continue to rise as the national herd hits a 20-year low, according to the latest figures from Meat & Livestock Australia.

The quarterly update reports Australia's cattle supply has plummeted to 26.2 million head, with slaughter rates to shock the processing sector next year by dropping from a record-high to under 120,000 - a figure last seen in 2006 when industry focus was on rebuilding herd numbers.

Herds in western Queensland and NSW fell up to 40 per cent in three years and beef exports are expected to be 24 per cent lower than last year, however above-average carcass weight will soften the blow to production.