Beef expansion at Mt Magnet

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

A Mount Magnet pastoralist is looking at expanding into cattle to capture the beef boom.

Challa station owner Ashley Dowden said he was in final negotiations with the ANZ Bank to secure neighbouring Windimurra station.

The 260,000ha station was last sold in 2004 by pastoralist Dale Zadow for about $2 million, including 750 head of cattle and several thousand Damara sheep, to failed goat exporter Ranjet Thanbyrajh of West Ag Holdings, prior to the property being repossessed by the ANZ in 2012, with $1.8 million owed.

Mr Dowden, who had once held more than 10,000 sheep on his current 104,000ha pastoral property, 60km east of Mt Magnet, hoped to be able to breed cattle on both stations in the future.

"The price we're getting for cattle at the moment is good and it is a good time to expand cattle into Windimurra station because it is good cattle country. Originally, I had no option but to move into cattle because I used to run sheep and goats but with the wild dogs continuing to decimate livestock in the area I had no choice but to change," he said.

"But though it's easy to sell cattle at good prices at the moment, it's equally difficult to buy cattle at price, so I started with about 500 breeders on my station and have been working up from there.

"In past years, Windimurra has held around 15,000 to 20,000 sheep, but my plan is to split the station into Windimurra and Anketell properties and raise cattle on both."

Mr Dowden said he would have to spend at least $200,000 to get the property operational.

"At the moment Windimurra has no homestead, fences or windmill, just lots of capacity," he said.

"And apart from the investment in infrastructure, I am also going to have put in at least six to eight watering points to get water running to the cattle."

Mr Dowden said the plan was to stock at least 1000 breeders to build up to at least 2000 cattle on a 10-year plan.

"We plan to send most of the cattle south for slaughter," he said.

Geraldton Meat Exports are looking at putting in a large kill chain to service breeders in the Midwest and Gascoyne region.

"But we will also be breeding 250kg to 350kg for live export and the balance left over from the abattoir and live exports would be sold at Muchea Livestock Centre," Mr Dowden said.

"I have to move on this project now because if it is not purchased by June 30 next year, the property will revert to crown land."

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