Wyndham ships first cattle for season
A shipload of cattle out of Wyndham Port has marked the start of the live export season.
The port in far north WA has loaded its first cattle ship of the year, with about 3500 head setting sail for Indonesia last week.
The shipment coincided with the start of muster throughout the north after a prolonged wet season slowed cattle supply to all but a trickle in recent months.
The producers are preparing to turn off breeders, bulls and steers, which they hope will fetch them continued buoyant prices as live exporters compete to secure numbers for April export contracts.
In the week beginning April 16, frantic competition between live exporters pushed the price to $3.50/kg in Darwin, but the market softened last week as supply became more plentiful at saleyards in WA and the Northern Territory.
Live exporter Austrex contracted the Dutch-owned carrier Bison Express for the shipment, after trucking the cattle in from its holding yards in nearby Kununurra.
Wyndham Port manager Steve Forrest said he hoped the consignment would be the start of a busier season for the port than previous years.
“We’ve been very keen to get some numbers through the yards before the end of the financial year,” he said.
“Including this latest shipment, we’re anticipating a very bad year for the port, with only about 9000 head for the financial year, which is a far cry from the port’s heyday where we were doing 80,000.”
Mt Magnet pastoralist Ashley Dowden, from Challa Station, finished mustering this week.
Flying his plane alongside a motorbike and buggy crew, the fifth-generation pastoralist spent the past fortnight rounding up cattle at his and a neighbour’s property.
Mr Dowden said he hoped the market would remain buoyant as he increased his turn-off year on year.
Rhys, front, and Connor Jones from Boogardie Station, helped muster.