Muchea sails through record yarding

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

A sense of renewed optimism has filled the air at Muchea Livestock Centre, with a record number of cattle yarded last week.

The centre's cattle pens were overflowing with the more than 4000 head yarded, with management having to use sheep pens to house excess stock.

The yarding comprised 3435 live weight cattle, 374 vealers and 200 private sale cattle.

While Muchea Livestock Centre management admitted it was a shock to learn of the expected yarding, users reported that the operation ran smoothly on the day.

This was in stark contrast to a sale last year in which the centre struggled to handle a 2500-head yarding, with buyers and sellers experiencing a long wait to weigh and process cattle sales.

The fallout from that event and ongoing issues resulted in two appointments being made.

In January, former Royal Agricultural Society councillor Andrew Williams was appointed as WA Meat Industry Authority chief executive and, in July, Queensland born-and-bred cattle expert Darren Robertson took on the newly created role of livestock manager at Livestock Logistics WA.

It was hoped their extensive rural and management backgrounds would help to improve operations at Muchea Livestock Centre.

On hearing of last week's expected cattle yarding, Mr Williams said he had to take a deep breath.

"Having Darren being able to utilise the talents of other experienced stockman on the day was a big help," he said.

"I also got on the phone straight away to the agents and support staff and before I knew it we had more than doubled the usual amount of helpers ready to go.

"The sale went really smoothly and the prices came back a bit but not too much.

"We had finished drafting all of the cattle by about 11pm on Sunday, which was amazing."

Mr Williams said the centre would not have been able to manage a yarding of last week's size six months ago.

"The centre has a 3000 cattle capacity and that would have been unimaginable," he said.

While the big yarding was also a shock to Mr Robertson, he said he was confident his staff could handle the situation. After being told the news, he said he received more than 70 offers of help in one hour.

"The big numbers were because of pastoral cattle coming in from the north, combined with a heavy contingent of local cattle," he said.

At this week's cattle sale, the yarding was down by more than half the previous sale, reaching 1550 head.

A total of 144 calves were offered by open auction.

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