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Red meat slaughter rates rise

Jane Ryan and Rosemary Grant, Tuesday May 21, 2013 - 11:45 EST
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Ongoing dry weather is forcing producers to feed hay to livestock. - ABC

Tasmanian meatworks are killing more sheep and cattle this year.

Exceptionally dry weather over summer and autumn, poor reserves of pasture, and hay and cheaper livestock prices, are lifting turn-off rates on farms.

Throughput at Tasmania's biggest abattoir at Longford is also up since JBS Swift closed its King Island meat works last year.

JBS director and manager corporate and regulatory affairs, John Berry, says the Longford meatworks is now running six days a week and his aim is to keep the abattoir running 52 weeks a year.

"We're doing around 450 beef and 1600 lambs and sheep a day." he said.

"We see Longford as a strategic asset for us, and we can see things going through hopefully to July, on current indications."

Nearby, the Tasmania Feedlot at Powranna is reducing the number of cattle for its Japanese supermarket supply.

The Japanese-owned feedlot will fatten 1,500 fewer cattle for its Jusco supermarket shelves this year.

But managing director, Andrew Thompson says the reduction is a temporary hiccough and the feedlot is doing more custom-feeding of cattle to meet domestic abattoir requirements.

"We're very full of cattle at the moment, including quite a few custom-fed cattle which we haven't had on the feedlot for some time," Andrew Thompson said.

"Basically we're custom feeding for people who have a contract with either of the [Tasmanian] abattoirs.

"Greenhams are also custom-feeding for some of their own purposes.

"We've got 11,200 on feed as of today."

Many Tasmanian beef cattle farmers are running short of feed and off-loading stock before winter.

TFGA Meat Council chair, Brian Stewart says parts of Tasmania have still had no rain and confidence is running low.

"Many people are concerned about fodder," he said.

"I believe that in some places people are trying to off-load cattle because of a concern around the shortage of fodder, so there is a concern there."

Mr Stewart says the dry conditions in northern Australia are starting to affect Tasmanian cattle prices.

"It's a knock on effect," he said.

"They depress prices in NSW and then that depresses prices further south as more cattle come on the market."


© ABC 2013

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