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Australian livestock eat twice as much grain as the Australian people.

It takes a lot of grain to make a bit of meat.

It takes a lot of grain to make a bit of meat. Feed grain demand from ‘livestock industries is a key driver of grain production’ in Australia, according to the government’s Grains Research and Development Corporation.¹ The livestock industry’s own Feed Grain Supply and Demand report finds that food for farm animals is ‘by far the largest domestic market for Australian grain.’² The latest industry figures³ reveal that two-thirds (68%) of grain-use within Australia went towards feeding livestock in 2017–18 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Breakdown of domestic use of Australian grain.

Feed used up nearly 11 million tonnes of grain inputs that year. The largest share of grain-based feed was eaten up by beef and dairy cattle, followed by meat and egg-laying chickens, and pigs (see Figure 2).⁴ For perspective, at 4 million tonnes of feed, beef cattle alone ate more grain inputs than what were milled for flour to satisfy the annual demand from the entire Australian population (around 3 million tonnes).

Figure 2. Share of feed-grain consumption by livestock animal.

[1] Grains Research and Development Corporation. (2021). Growing regions. https://grdc.com.au/about/our-industry/growing-regions

[2] Spragg, J. (2018). Australian Feed Grain Supply and Demand Report 2018. Feed Grain Partnership/JCS Solutions. http://www.feedgrainpartnership.com.au/items/1023/FGP%20Feed%20Grain%20Supply%20and%20Demand%20Report%20Oct%202018.pdf. See p. 22.

[3] Spragg, J. (2018). Australian Feed Grain Supply and Demand Report 2018. Feed Grain Partnership/JCS Solutions. http://www.feedgrainpartnership.com.au/items/1023/FGP%20Feed%20Grain%20Supply%20and%20Demand%20Report%20Oct%202018.pdf. See p. 25, Table 6.

[4] Spragg, J. (2018). Australian Feed Grain Supply and Demand Report 2018. Feed Grain Partnership/JCS Solutions. http://www.feedgrainpartnership.com.au/items/1023/FGP%20Feed%20Grain%20Supply%20and%20Demand%20Report%20Oct%202018.pdf. See p. 23, Table 3.

Originally published at https://vstats.substack.com.

Data-driven analysis on animal rights and plant-based diets.