Pas­toral­ists look set for bumper year

Pilbara News - - News - Cally Dupe

High cat­tle prices, solid rain­fall and a re­ju­ve­nated ex­port path have laid the foun­da­tion for what Pil­bara pas­toral­ists hope will be a bumper year.

Rory de Pledge man­ages Ko­or­darri Sta­tion, 80km south of Onslow, and runs 4000 head of cat­tle, in­clud­ing 1500 breed­ers.

He said pas­toral­ists were feel­ing buoy­ant ahead of mus­ter­ing next month af­ter high rain­fall in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary.

“We had about 320mm, which is well over our av­er­age (of 270mm) — it means fat cat­tle which is nice with the good prices,” Mr de Pledge said.

“The air is pos­i­tive, prices are good and will stay good short to medium-term.”

Also boost­ing pas­toral­ists’ spir­its is news the port of Port Hed­land will next month rein­tro­duce live cat­tle ex­ports for the first time since 2013-14.

The Pil­bara Ports Au­thor­ity re­vealed in De­cem­ber it would in­ject thou­sands of dol­lars into the port of Port Hed­land to pre­pare the world’s largest bulk ex­port fa­cil­ity for the ship­ment of cat­tle.

For Mr de Pledge, the re­turn jour­ney from Ko­or­darri Sta­tion to Port Hed­land is about 600km shorter than the pas­toral­ist’s usual jour­ney to ex­port at the Port of Ger­ald­ton.

Kim­ber­ley Pil­bara Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion vice-pres­i­dent David Stoate said pas­toral­ists had wel­comed the re­ju­ve­nated trade path for its po­ten­tial to cut costs.

“It is ob­vi­ously a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit as it means a sig­nif­i­cant freight sav­ing and bet­ter an­i­mal wel­fare out­comes,” he said.

“It also re­lieves sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure on the in­fra­struc­ture of the other ports in­volved in the live ex­port trade.”

Mr de Pledge bought up big at the re­cent X Fac­tor Bull Sale in Muchea, Perth, to re­stock Ko­or­darri’s Drought­mas­ter herd.

The six bulls, from two farms in WA’s south, cost more than $25,000 in to­tal and will start their new life in the Pil­bara next week.

“Ev­ery few years we get in some more prog­eny,” Mr de Pledge said. “We had spare money to buy some to re­place a few other bulls.

“We will put them in a hold­ing pad­dock un­til they get set­tled and then put them in a pad­dock with some heifers when we muster.”

Mr de Pledge said high cat­tle prices, which firmed at $3.20 ear­lier in the year, could soften as over­seas mar­kets sourced cheaper types of pro­tein and ex­porters tried to fill or­ders. He hopes to ex­port about 1500 head this year.

“That’s al­ways a worry when prices are so high … I think some of the meat­works are strug­gling a bit as well,” Mr de Pledge said.

“They (prices) won’t drop con­sid­er­ably but they could come back a bit later in the year.”

Pic­ture: Cally Dupe

Ko­or­dar­rie Sta­tion man­ager Rory de Pledge at the X Fac­tor Bull Sale at Muchea.

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