THE WA Meat Marketing Co-operative Limited (WAMMCO) has finished 2017 with a November kill of just under 90,000 sheep and lambs, but an average weight loss of 2.2 kilograms per head below November 2016, due to the testing season for producers.
WAMMCO chief executive officer Coll MacRury said the co-operative had been able to offset the cost to its producer members of lighter lambs by achieving and passing on historically high, global prices for quality lambs.
The price has topped $6 a kilogram for heavy top scoring lambs.
“WAMMCO was able to offer forward contract prices in June for lambs delivered to us from November to February 2018, that predicted a strong global demand, based mainly on our membership of the Australian Lamb Co-operative which markets prime lamb into North America,’’ Mc MacRury said.
“Our weight and grade prices on offer to producers were also at historical highs during the season and we are hoping for the further bonus of a trading rebate to qualifying producer members in August, if the buoyant conditions continue.”
WAMMCO supplier Myles O’Meehan, Caralinga Farms, Borden, said he had been happy with the lamb prices he had received this year and “it was a good time to be in sheep”.
Mr O’Meehan said he had sent three lines to WAMMCO and averaged respectively $140 per head, $148 per head and $154 per head.
“It’s the first year we have been breeding for ourselves,” he said.
“We have just been trading in the past – buying in and then selling off around harvest time.
“The numbers have varied depending on the season but this year we sent off about 1600 lambs.”
Mr O’Meehan said he was adding to his flock for next year and hoped that the prices would be maintained.
“This year we had about 1400 ewes, but we just bought 450 more,” he said.
“So next year we will run 1850 ewes.”
The top price supplier to WAMMCO in the past month was DC & S Woodfield who averaged $167 per head.
Plant manager Tony Bessell said a plentiful supply of stock had helped WAMMCO to buoyant production for November of nearly 90,000 units, of which 23,000 were mutton.
However, average lamb weights were down for the second consecutive month because of tough conditions since mid-season.
The Katanning plant had worked 10 consecutive Saturdays with new elements of the processing system performing up to and beyond expectation and global customers expressing support for WAMMCO’s extended and upgraded quality and product range.
Mr Bessell said the co-operative’s directors had approved a major upgrade of the plant’s power capacity from 2000 to 4000 kilovolt-amperes to accommodate further automation of plant and equipment.
Modifications to the refrigeration system have been completed and improvements to the boning process and raw material disposal systems were scheduled for attention in the new year.
Mr Bessell expects market access issues to continue in 2018.
“New trade treaties and changes to import regulations for our customers have resulted in food importers conducting their own audits and approvals for plants such as Katanning,” Mr Bessell said.
“This requires our compliance, whilst also upholding Australian meat standards.”
He said WAMMCO had signed up for a television advertising campaign to run from January to June 2018 to keep the co-operative’s activities and benefits before producers.
“We are also keen to encourage many more of our producers to visit the Katanning plant to watch their stock being processed in 2018,” Mr Bessell said.
A visit to WAMMCO Katanning was included for 10 trainees in a national training course run in WA during November by Primaries/Ruralco.
Trainees from all States also saw the Katanning saleyards in operation.