Muchea still a work in progress

Rebecca TurnerCountryman

It’s been just over a year since the opening of the Muchea livestock centre and, since then, 112,680 cattle and 695,633 lambs, sheep and goats have gone under the hammer.

The number of cattle sold is up 1381 head on the last year of operation at Midland saleyards with sheep, lamb and goat numbers down 27,702 head; however, this change in numbers was most likely due to the dry season experienced in the Gascoyne over the past 12 months and the sheep flock in WA being at all-time lows.

WA Meat Industry Authority (WAMIA) chief executive Renata Paliskis said industry feedback had been essential to getting the centre working well in its first year and this would continue.

She said that in its first year of operation, the centre had received general improvements driven by saleyard users.

“These have included relocation of chains in the cattle area and the addition of bows at the base of sheep gates,” Ms Paliskis said.

“We have also trailed a few user ideas including slam latches on the driving gates in the cattle section.”

Ms Paliskis said some of the items that had been improved had come under the defect period in place for the 18 months post ‘practical completion’ of the centre and, therefore, had been under warranty.

She said other expenses in improving the centre had still remained within its original $54.5 million budget allocation.

Ms Paliskis said feedback from transporters with regards to throughput of cattle and sheep during unloading, drafting and loading had been positive.

Feedback on the centre’s soft flooring had been mixed and, as a result, the centre was now trialling a bulkier pine mix that was being received well.

Since the opening of the centre, a depot/feedlotting facility has been introduced.

Ms Paliskis said there had been enormous demand for trans-shipment of stock, with 40,695 head of cattle and 47,474 head of sheep and lambs using the facility.

“The facility has been in demand post-sale for stock in preparation for eastern states haulage this year,” Ms Paliskis said. “In trans-shipment, stock are fed the maintenance ration of oaten hay.”

Ms Paliskis said both the number of cattle and the amount of time spent in trans-shipment had increased compared with the last year of operation of Midland, with trans-shipment previously having not been used for sheep at Midland.

When it came to further development of land around the centre, Ms Paliskis said expressions of interest had been sought for ground leasing about a 40-hectare area of the site.

“We are progressing this matter with the WAMIA Board and the Shire of Chittering,” she said.

“Any such project will be subject to a benefit cost analysis to determine return prior to the go ahead.”

Ms Paliskis said an updated catchment analysis of the Muchea livestock centre was in progress and was expected to be completed within the next few months.

She said it was hoped that in the next five to 10 years, cattle numbers would hold firm and that sheep numbers would fall in line with the State’s sheep population.

“ABARE predicts the sheep flock will recover in about five years, and we look forward to that, but seasonal conditions will be a significant influence on livestock numbers,” Ms Paliskis said.

Ms Paliskis said the centre would experience a CPI increase on July 1, but aside from this increase, WAMIA was not proposing a fee increase for the centre.

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