The Northern Territory’s only major abattoir has reopened after a six-month closure.

Key points:

  • 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.

Jed Fawcett sitting in the driver's seat of a stripped-down jeep with no windscreen. He's wearing a blue shirt and beige hat

Jed Fawcett catches feral buffalo across the Top End. (

ABC Rural: Daniel Fitzgerald

)

Delayed reopening

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.

Around 20 buffalo grouped in a stockyard beside a mound of hay.

The Batchelor abattoir processed around 14,000 cattle and 6,000 buffalo in 2020.(

ABC Rural: Max Rowley

)

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.”

‘Buffalo-centric’ season

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.

Posted 

Buffalo industry relieved as NT’s only major meatworks reopens
Source:
Source 1

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here