Australia’s beef exports are expected to reach its highest annual level as drought in major cattle producing areas result in shrinking herds and higher slaughter rates.

Cattle numbers in Australia, the third largest beef exporter, are expected to downslide from 28.25 million head at the end of June 2013 to an expected total of 28 million a year later. The new estimates are 2 million below predictions made just six months earlier. January expectations forecasted 29.8 million head by June 2013.

Bloomberg reports he dry weather has forced Australian producers to curb restocking efforts and shrink herd sizes, leading to higher slaughter rates. Total beef and veal exports this year are expected to set a record at 1 million tons.

The Land reports a devaluing of the Australian dollar have also helped push exports higher. Demand from growing markets for beef in China have increased export demand for Australia’s beef products.