Muchea set for cattle record

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

The Muchea Livestock Centre hit the 100,000-head cattle milestone this week, paving the way for the complex to break its record for most cattle penned in a year.

Cattle registrations at the centre have been on the increase with a flood of pastoral cattle expected to peak over the next few weeks, as the northern rain season ends.

MLC assistant chief executive Dave Saunders said with current weekly sales numbers increasing, the centre expected to beat the previous record, set in 2011, of 106,183 for the year.

"We have two more sales to go for the year at the centre, plus a private sale run by one of the agents," he said.

"We are forecasting to do about 5000 head over that period so hopefully we will just tip over the previous record."

At Monday's cattle sale, numbers for the current year reached 101,206 head, which is 10 per cent ahead of last year's total of 92,000 head.

There are also further signs of an imminent flood of pastoral cattle in coming weeks, with a continued sharp build-up in numbers of breeds from the north.

Pastoral cattle continued to dominate numbers at the sale this week, which pushed the number of nominated offerings to 1900 head.

Private sales also increased, with 12 vendors listing about 900 head, in addition to the listed cattle.

Speaking with _Countryman _at the centre, WA Meat Industry Authority chief executive Andrew Williams said he believed the MLC was a "great facility" and deserved to be used.

"We are very happy with the number breaking last year's total," he said.

"The season has started a bit later than in previous years but (we) look forward to the expectation of a continued strong build."

Mr Williams said he was grateful cthat attle numbers had increased steadily over several weeks.

"I am glad we haven't gone from famine to feast," he said.

"Pastoral cattle have come down from the Mid West and the Gascoyne and that is where we are seeing most of the extra numbers come from."

Mr Williams also said he felt confident about the team and infrastructure he had put into place to ensure the smooth running of the centre in the busy period.

"We're trying to make sure we've all the things in place that we can to accommodate these consistently increasing numbers of cattle," he said.

Since Mr Williams' appointment in February, WAMIA has obtained funds for an asset investment program, estimated at $309,000 each year until the 2018-19 estimates.

Planned upgrades to the centre inclued an extensive CCTV system, IT infrastructure and system upgrades and ongoing maintenance and repairs.

"I'm as confident as I can be with the progress of all the changes we have implemented," Mr Williams said.

"These things are an evolution and we're certainly working towards constant improvements.

"I don't think I will ever stop making changes to improve the centre because you are constantly looking for new ways to do things and improve upon those things. I'm also certainly happy we've now solved a lot of the underlying tensions we'd had in the past."

However, Mr Williams also said there were still some matters at the centre yet to be resolved.

"But now we have a lot better working relationship between WAMIA, Livestock Logistics WA and the agents, with a vast improvement in communications," he said.

"Issues are now dealt with quickly and quietly and then everybody just gets on with their job."

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