Trucks turned back at Muchea

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Cattle trucks have been turned away at the Muchea saleyards as numbers threatened to hit 5000 head.

Managers at the Muchea Livestock Centre panicked on Friday after confirming a record number of cattle nominations was expected to flood the centre for Monday's sale.

WA Meat Industry Authority chief executive Andrew Williams said for the first time staff at the 3000-head capacity centre were forced to turn around 15 fully loaded cattle trucks on Sunday.

Truck drivers hauling predominantly southern cattle were forced to return the cattle to the farm and charge their client for the extra trip.

"We already had 4200 nominated cattle on Friday evening, which would have meant we couldn't have accommodated all the cattle that were expected," he said.

"Over the last few weeks we've been getting an average about 800 unnominated cattle, so the potential of having 5000 head of cattle was possible."

The MLC has been hitting big numbers of cattle this year with a 4000-head cattle yarding record reached in October.

The large recent influxes have raised questions among management, agents and users of how to smooth out "peaks and troughs" of cattle turning up for sale each week.

"We spoke to the agents on Friday night and some were a bit unhappy but were generally helpful by diverting some of the nominated cattle to another week," Mr Williams said.

"Of the nominated cattle we ended up with about 3000 head, which is still a significant drafting," he said. "We are going to look at all possibilities for the MLC to better match its planning with the industry cattle cycles.

"It could be anything from having additional sale days for cattle depending on demand or incentives for producers to bring cattle to the centre on quieter weeks."

Primaries auctioneer Jay Macdonald said his company had diverted 400 cattle from the sale.

He said bad planning and organisation by the centre was the reason cattle had to be turned away.

"The situation came at a significant cost to our vendors," he said.

"I believe the situation was due, in part, to having two weaner sales, comprising of about 700 head, that was run at the same time as the main cattle sale.

"Management needs to promote and enforce the rule that unnominated cattle will not be accepted."

Livestock transporter Tommaso Vizzari said he was questioned by MLC staff, when he arrived with unnominated cattle on Sunday.

He had collected nine cattle from a client at a Chidlow farm and was lucky not to have had to return them.

"It's harder for the smaller transporters carting smaller numbers of cattle because you don't know if the farmer has nominated the cattle or not," he said.

"The transporter ends up the meat in the sandwich.

"I believe the centre should make it mandatory for cattle to be nominated and then it will be the farmer's responsibility if they don't comply with the rules."

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