Push for northern abattoir

27 Jun, 2010 02:00 AM
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Roebuck Export Depot manager Paul Heil.
Roebuck Export Depot manager Paul Heil.

PRESSURE is mounting for an abattoir facility to be built in the north of the State.

The number of cattle unsuitable for the live export market has increased because of the 350kg individual animal weight restriction enforced by the Indonesian Government.

Steers above the 350kg mark are suitable for export to Egypt, but there are limited live export markets for cows and bulls.

The only other option for pastoralists is to truck their cattle south to either sell through the saleyard system or directly to an abattoir.

At about $150/head freight, it's not such an attractive option.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) Kimberley division chairman Jim Motter, Bulka station, said there was a good case for an abattoir in the Kimberley.

Mr Motter attended last week's live export forum in Broome and said the case for an abattoir had been strengthened considerably by the hit to pastoralists from the Indonesian market.

"We are most certainly pushing for the development of a meatworks in the Kimberley," Mr Motter said. "In the first 20 years I was up here, there were three abattoirs.

"Now there are none."

Joe de Pledge, Mandora station, said he remembered when the Indonesian live export market first opened up in 1993.

Mr de Pledge said back then only feeder steers were suitable and they were given a 350kg weight restriction.

He said it seemed history was now repeating itself.

Mr de Pledge drafted steers on Tuesday and although some were bound for live export, many were simply too heavy.

He said he was looking at feedlots in the south for the steers over 350kg but it would be good if there was another option in the north.

"The reason abattoirs failed in the past is because cattle numbers were not sustainable," Mr de Pledge said.

"The Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign (BTEC) culled numbers in the Kimberley significantly, but now they are back up.

"I'm not saying that an abattoir up here would solve the problem, but I do think we should keep all options open."

Close to 40,000 head of cattle have gone through the Roebuck Export Depot since it opened 18 months ago, with the majority from the live export industry.

According to depot manager Paul Heil only about 300 head per month go through the facility for dipping before being trucked south, but this month that number had shot up to 3000 head.

"We've had a lot more cattle going south and I think that will continue as long as the abattoirs keep taking them and the price stays at a decent level," Mr Heil said.

"The situation in Indonesia is a massive issue for the stations around here."

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