Grass is greener at Muchea

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

The Muchea Livestock Centre has struck an agistment deal with live- animal export giant Wellard.

This week the MLC began processing 1300 head of cattle under an agistment arrangement with the company, which has opened a new revenue stream for the centre.

The lucrative deal has further boosted the sense of renewed optimism at the centre, which recently notched a yarding record of 4000 head of cattle.

The centre's recent change of fortunes is in stark contrast to a sale last year in which it struggled to handle a 2500-head yarding, with buyers and sellers experiencing a long wait to weigh and process cattle sales.

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The deal struck between Wellard Rural Exports and MLC was made only months ago and has been described by both organisations as "mutually beneficial".

WA Meat Industry Association chief executive Andrew Williams said MLC had unused paddocks with an abundance of grass.

"We have held small number of cattle and sheep at the centre for export in the past but this is the first time we've accumulated a large number of cattle ready for live export over a period of time," he said.

Mr Williams said the deal with Wellard was "a toe in water" test to offer the service to other industry players.

"The MLC is an accredited live export depot, a handy depot for live exporters with proximity to Fremantle," he said.

"The centre's role is to provide services to the industry that maximise the use of the Government's investment in the land.

"We need to use the facility for more than a couple of days a week for sales and it is in everybody's interest to utilise the saleyards over a much longer period and much more intensively."

Wellard operations manager Tim O'Donnell said agisting cattle at MLC had been a huge success.

He said the deal's biggest attraction for Wellard was the logistical advantage. "We can hold up to 1500 head of cattle only an hour from Fremantle port," he said.

"Specifically MLC facilities provide a one-stop shop in that we can buy the cattle at the sales and then agist them in the adjoining paddocks.

"And when it's time to do the pre- export, we can bring them into the centre to do their health protocols and they can undergo the quarantine period at the centre as well and then straight to the ship."

Mr O'Donnell said the cattle agisted at the centre had near-perfect conditioning. "We've had no rejection issue whatsoever because of the high standard of the cattle coming out of the centre, so we're really pleased with the outcome," he said.

"The whole system from the time of purchasing the cattle and then into the agistment process and then bringing them back has been perfect."

Mr O'Donnell said the 1300 head of cattle would make up a 4500-head Vietnam shipment, which is currently loading in Fremantle.

"When the ship is loaded it will go to Townsville to collect another 10,000 before going to Vietnam," he said.

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