Farmers in Australia have slaughtered as many as eight million cows because drought conditions have left them with insufficient feed or water.

Meat and Livestock Australia said there was concern that the drastic measures would make it hard for farmers to build up herds once again once the drought is broken.

Cow slaughter grew 7% in the last six months of 2002, with more than 1.5 million killed in Queensland, one million in New South Wales and 930,000 in Victoria.