2018 cattle slaughter rationalisation expected

Holiday closure dates for Queensland processors


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It has been a tough operating year for Queensland meat processors, but all are continuing shifts until mid-December.

It has been a tough operating year for Queensland meat processors, but all are continuing shifts until mid-December.

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The cattle on-feed at processor owned feedlots has ensured adequate slaughter supply until normal Christmas break closures.

High prime cattle prices made operating margins tight for processors during 2017 with bullocks selling to 281c/kg or $1914/head at Dalby’s cattle sale last Wednesday.

It has been a tough operating year for Queensland's meat processing sector.

It has been a tough operating year for Queensland's meat processing sector.

Livestock manager Kurt Wockner, Oakey Beef Exports said slaughter numbers will be more conservative next year.

“Expectations are for international beef supply to remain solid and I feel processors will adjust slaughter numbers downwards to suit the market,” Mr Wockner said.

Oakey Beef Exports has maintained one shift a day for five-days a week for most of 2017.

Mr Wockner noted the processor expects to have reduced slaughter numbers throughout next year.

“If the dry season breaks across Queensland this summer we expect to process less numbers during 2018,” he said.

“We may need to continue adjusting slaughter numbers to meet the demand and cattle supply.”

Oakey Beef Exports will close for the Christmas break on December 18 and re-open for processing shifts by January 8 or 9.

Mr Wockner added less cattle have been put on feed over the past month due to higher feeder cattle prices.

“With lower cattle numbers going onto feed than normal I expect a flow-on impact of reduced slaughter numbers in March next year,” he said.

Thomas Borthwicks livestock manager Malcolm Kinman said the isolated rainfall during Queensland’s dry season has resulted in cattle producers holding stock instead of placing them into feedlots.

“If we get decent summer rain across Queensland the grass finished cattle will start to come forward by March next year,” Mr Kinman said from the processor’s Mackay based plant.

Thomas Borthwicks plant will close on December 20 and re-open for processing from January 5 with a scheduled maintenance shutdown from January 25 for a month.

Heavy feeder weight steers (over 400kg) sold between 285c/kg and 303c/kg at last Wednesday’s Dalby cattle sale.

Long grain-fed processor’s John Dee said they plan of continue full shifts from the start of next year.

“Feeder cattle prices have slightly firmed but we are aiming for our regular weekly inductions of cattle,” John Dee group CEO Warren Stiff said.

John Dee will have it’s last slaughter shift on December 21 and recommence processing on January 8, 2018.

The other major Queensland processor Christmas closures will be; JBS Dinmore December 20, JBS Townsville December 14, JBS Rockhampton December 16, Tey Rockhampton December 14, Tey Biloea December 7, Tey Beenleigh working through with only public holidays off.

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