Campbell McPhee of Western Meat Exporters at Charleville.Picture: JAMES WAGSTAFF
Campbell McPhee of Western Meat Exporters at Charleville.Picture: JAMES WAGSTAFF

Charleville abattoir dealing with large supply of livestock

THE world's biggest buyers of Australian sheep and goat meat have cut their trade lines during the global coronavirus pandemic, and the impact is being felt in the west.

This week Charleville abattoir Western Meat Exporters has halted new livestock intakes, as a huge supply of animals outstrips global demand for the locally grown goods.

In a letter addressed to their suppliers, Western Meat Exporters said it is currently facing an oversupply of livestock, which must be processed.

"Due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the influx of livestock supplies,

Western Meat Exporters has had to take the unprecedented steps on putting a halt on all future

livestock bookings over the coming weeks until the current backlog has surpassed and the situation around COVID-19 improves throughout our distribution network," the letter read.

"Processing will remain as normal and all current bookings will be fulfilled. Thank you for your understanding and co-operation in these challenging times, we will keep you updated on our future movements over the coming weeks."

The move to suspend intake comes in the wake of an initially promising season for sheep and goat producers; much needed rain revived many properties and improved fodder supplies earlier this year, and prices for the animals have been moving steadily upward.

The outlook was initially good, Western Meat Exporters managing director Campbell McPhee told the Western Times, but COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works, and now they have a hefty supply with reduced demand.

"We have had a reasonable wet season around us, and now that it has dried out, people have the ability to get their stock on to vehicles, and we have seen a big improvement in livestock supplies over the past couple of months," Mr McPhee said.

"(The facility) has been very busy, running overtime and weekend kills just to try and keep in front of supply.

"The demand has been kind of problematic at the moment, with America pulling up the shutters, and we had a similar incident when China pulled out of the market during the peak of the virus.

"But they are beginning to show a little more promise again, and now we have to look at regaining access to some areas; when some doors close, others open."

As they work through the backlog of livestock to be process, more changes have made their way inside the abattoir, with virus safety now a number one priority.

For staff, it has meant big changes to shifts, operations and cleaning, as the company works to adhere to social distancing rules.

"All of our workers remain and live in Charleville, which has given us the ability to put control measures in place and still remain operational," he said.

"We are quite isolated just by being out here, and we look to control that as best we can."

Charleville Western Times

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