The Northern Territory’s only major abattoir has reopened after a six-month closure.
- After extended delays, the Batchelor abattoir has reopened for 2021
- The buffalo industry relies on the meatworks for animals not suited for live export
- Central Agri Group, the abattoir’s operator, plans a ‘buffalo-centric’ production for 2021
It is welcome news to contract buffalo musterer Jed Fawcett, who started the season late due to uncertainty around the abattoir’s reopening date.
“We all sort of sat on our hands waiting for it to open … we didn’t want to stockpile too many animals,” Mr Fawcett said.
“In the past we’ve held them for a long time [due to delays] … you run up feed bills very quickly.”
The Batchelor abattoir, 100 kilometres south of Darwin, is an important service for the Northern Territory’s buffalo industry because it takes buffalo not suited to the live-export trade.
The abattoir took a scheduled break over the Top End’s wet season, but its reopening has come later than expected.
Several tentative open dates indicated to industry groups in April and May passed without the abattoir restarting.
Speaking to ABC Rural, Central Agri Group’s general manager, Johnnie Dichiera, said the company had encountered a number of challenges.
“It was obviously not ideal,” Mr Dichiera said.
“However, we heard the calls from industry for us to be open … and while we have opened late, we are now open and we’re excited to be contributing to the Northern Territory economy again.”
Mr Dichiera said Batchelor’s production plan would be very “buffalo-centric” this year.
“That is, processing 82 head of buffalo a day over a five-day week, and every fortnight looking to process cattle,” he said.
Central Agri Group has applied to export chilled meat to Indonesia and hopes to receive approval soon.
“That is a critical, critical market for us,” Mr Dichiera said.
“We need that market, and we’re hopeful we will get some positive news and that listing shortly.”
If all goes to plan, he said, the abattoir would aim to process more than 9,000 head of buffalo in 2021.