Cattle supply impacts on meatworks

A SHORTAGE of suitable cattle is playing havoc with production at Warwick's largest employer John Dee as well as the Leitch Pastoral-owned Killarney Abattoir.

John Dee Warwick missed a production day on Friday due to a lack of suitable cattle, while Killarney has had to work hard to ensure adequate kill numbers.

Seasonal conditions, a rising Australia dollar and falling cattle prices have been blamed for the fall in cattle numbers in the region.

A John Dee Warwick spokesman said the plant missed a production day on Friday due to shortages of suitable livestock.

“There are still cattle around but they're just not the ones we were after,” he said.

The spokesman said production had returned to normal this week.

“John Dee should be in full production for the balance of the month,” he said.

He admitted it was too early to predict whether a shortage of suitable livestock would cost the company production days later in the season.

Leitch Pastoral operations manager Rob Doro said the market had tightened in recent weeks making it increasingly difficult for meatworks to source suitable livestock.

“It's the result of a combination of factors, but our kill is certainly down,” Mr Doro said.

“Seasonal conditions mean cattle probably aren't finished as well, the higher Australian dollar has put pressure on price and some export plants are offloading product onto the domestic market.

“So there is considerable industry competition.”

He said Leitch Pastoral Group was committed to buying cattle locally - for both Killarney Abattoir and company feedlots - and were affected by market contraction.

“But we are committed to operating a full kill, five days a week, all year so we will work to overcome current shortages,” Mr Doro said.

Meanwhile Meat and Livestock Australia's (MLA) latest figures showed weekly slaughter dropped four per cent state-wide due to lower supply.

MLA said trade was affected by subdued overseas demand and a rising dollar, which encouraged processors to reduce prices and shifts, as producers responded by holding on to stock.

Shortfall • John Dee closed Friday due to lack of suitable cattle. • Killarney Abattoir also reported kill figures were down.

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