Australian farmers feeling the most confident about the future

Monday, June 06, 2011

Food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank Australia, released its quarterly rural confidence survey which questioned about 1200 farmers across Australia and found that confidence had moderated compared to the prior quarter, but was at the highest level recorded for the second quarter since 2001.

Farmers were buoyed by favourable commodity prices and good autumn rains, with 42 per cent expecting conditions to improve in the coming year, compared to 48 per cent in the prior quarter.

Many farmers had received abundant summer rain and a top-up in autumn, which was good for the start of the winter cropping season, and prices for beef, sheep, and grain were relatively firm given strong demand and short supply.



Yea Saleyards to be Covered

Monday, June 06, 2011

 

 

If all goes to plan, Yea's saleyards will be roofed within a year, according to Murrindindi Shire councillor John Walsh.

Roofing of the yards is part of a $1.12 million redevelopment earmarked in the Murrindindi Shire Council 2011-2012 budget estimates.

Cr Walsh said the project had been made possible with a proposed $400,000 state government grant, secured last year as a Coalition election promise. The remaining funding would be provided through council loans.

Cr Walsh said the redevelopment would be in three stages, beginning with an $800,000 roof over the 2.5ha pens and loading races.

This would be followed by a canteen and offices, and then weighing facilities and a truck wash.

Cr Walsh said a project manager had been appointed to finalise planning issues and designs, which would then go to tender. He said the shire was confident that construction could proceed with minimal disruption to the 18 sales scheduled for 2011-12.

And while Yea saleyard fees were among Victoria's lowest at $6 plus GST per animal, or $7 plus GST for a cow and calf, Cr Walsh said the saleyards were very profitable.

Last year, Yea, had a throughput of 25,000 head, generated revenue of nearly $170,000 and had a profit of $50,000.



MLA's eat meat campaign

Monday, June 06, 2011

Food envy — there is nothing worse. And,  just in case you're not sure what it is, watch Meat and Livestock Australia's latest television commercial in its "Nothing Beats Beef" campaign. The commercial - which went to air this week - shows a couple in a cosy restaurant on a chilly winter's night. He orders the beef curry. She orders the salad.The plates arrive, one steamy and succulent and the other a pile of lettuce.  And there you have it — food envy!

MLA general marketing manager Glen Feist said the latest campaign was designed to drive beef demand during winter.

"Australians crave hearty, warming slow cooked meals such as beef casseroles, curries, pies and beef roasts in winter," Mr Feist said. "This phase of the campaign aims to remind them of their love for these tasty, value for money beef meals as the weather cools."

The campaign includes radio promotions, television segments and competitions



Live export ban bill

Monday, June 06, 2011

Independant MP Andrew Wilkie wants to ban all live exports within three years.

The Tasmanian independent will meet with Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig this afternoon to outline his private member’s bill to immediately ban cattle exports to Indonesia and a three-year phrase out plan for all live trade.



Blind Eye Turned to Cattle Cruelty

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The directors of Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp have failed in their duty of care for the Australian livestock industry and specifically beef cattle welfare in Indonesia.

The cattle abuse is so bad and has been going on for so long under their watch that they should apologise to Australian beef cattle farmers, then resign. New regulations on live cattle and sheep exports need to be introduced to ensure Australian livestock are only processed in works which meet Australian animal welfare standards.

The unconscionable component of the cattle welfare abuse in Indonesian abattoirs is the direct involvement by staff of both organisations in the installation of restraining boxes that facilitated the cruelty. Such restraining boxes were designed to allow the animal’s legs to be roped and when the side is opened to ensure the animal falls onto the concrete slab. All cattlemen know this approach is a recipe for an animal to panic and a struggle for it to try to escape – stress, injury and pain are unavoidable.

The subsequent abhorrent and random slaughter process (plus the cruel treatment forcing animals into the box) would have been witnessed by MLA and LiveCorp staff who oversaw installation of the equipment and arranged training with it. It is impossible to believe these people did not report how the slaughter process worked to their management with the information ending up with directors to decide on the moral and ethical outcomes of funding the construction and installation of these restraining boxes and the training needed to use them. In opting to fund and supply these restraining boxes rather than to recommend cessation of supply of cattle to sub-standard abattoirs in Indonesia (and recommending cessation of supply of animals to Middle East markets where sheep are abused), the directors have abrogated their responsibilities.

 

For more information, please go to:  http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/opinion/comment/blind-eye-turned-to-cattle-cruelty/2181484.aspx



Scone Yard at Forefront With NLIS

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Maintaining its position as a leading saleyard was the only incentive the Upper Hunter Shire Council needed to make an early move on providing full traceability for cattle under the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).  Now, with three months to go before implementation date, Council is ready to play its part - with plenty of time to iron out technicalities.

The key to its success has been open communication with an active saleyard committee comprising agents, vendors and buyers, representatives of Council, and the community.

Council's Manager of Technical Support, Coleen Pinkerton, said cooperation and a long lead time had allowed the committee to fully explore its options. "Last year our saleyards committee inspected several saleyards and different systems in Victoria to see which system would be best for us," Ms. Pinkerton said. "Our biggest decision was where to put the Aleis multi-read scanner - before or after the ring.

"We finally decided on after-ring placement and that appears to be a good decision. We have been using it for EU scanning,  and the flow of cattle from the ring through the scanner has been very smooth."

Scone is the tenth largest cattle saleyard in the state with an average annual throughout of 82,000 head, and well supported by many domestic and export abattoirs.

With some concern that the multi-read scanner would slow the system down and bruise cattle, Council trialed a mocked-up version of the proposed system to allay any fears. Saleyard Supervisor Steve Kemp said since the Aleis system had been installed there had been no reports of bruising from buyers or the abattoirs, and the sales had not slowed.

"We have averaged 85 lots an hour during the last 12 months, and when we put the scanner in, that figure didn't decrease at all.  In fact there was one sale where we got up to 90 lots an hour," Mr Kemp said.  While his initial reaction to NLIS was "here's another imposition on us," Mr Kemp was keen to make it happen once he had time to digest what was involved.

"We don't anticipate a problem with NLIS in this saleyard from an operational point of view. Cattle leave the sale ring and go through the exit scanner and the information is downloaded onto the system at the end of the sale. My only concern is how the database will cope with the influx of information coming through on July 1, but we have plenty of time to test this."

Agents hope to pre-scan cattle the night before allowing the vendor time to overcome any problems. Panel scanners will be installed near the loading ramps in preparation for scanning in and out of the saleyards.

Council received a 5.0 per cent grant for the installation of NLIS from the State Government and expects to recoup its share (336,000) within three years.



New Technology

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

On a remote cattle station some time into the future, the phone rings. A buyer has a boat going to Indonesia at the end of the week and the weight range is 270-340 kgs.

"How many can you supply?" the voice asks.

Traditionally, the pastoralist would give an estimate and then get the mob in to check the weights. Today though, our farmer makes a few clicks on his mouse. Sensors at watering points have enabled the weight of individual cattle to be recorded daily and he can see straight away he will have 22 decks in that range. The deal is done over the phone and a few minutes later,  the trucks have been ordered without even sighting a beast.

The technology is not as far-fetched as it sounds and after the success of trials at Napperby Station, north-west of Alice Springs, could be available to individual producers within the year.

It is the application in the saleyard, however, that could really make a difference to their business, delivering the pot of gold of the beef export industry—lifetime traceability.

"The talk at the moment is that lifetime traceability could be worth up to 20 cents more a kilo as the industry looks to expand into new markets around the world," says Tim Driver, Director of CAWD Livestock, the company that developed the technology.

Driver is at the Bohning Yards at Alice Springs overseeing the demonstration of the sensors to the executive members of the Northern Territory  (NT) Cattlemen's Association.

CAWD Livestock was given a brief by the association to develop an automatic drafting system that would identify and separate cattle that either had a faulty National Livestock Identification  (NLIS) Scheme tag or no tag at all.

While similar systems have been developed over the years, they wanted one that could read from either direction, something that previously had been an impediment.

"This system is unique," Driver says.

"There are a few around that were trialed when the NLIS was first introduced, but I believe this is the only multi-directional drafter that exists. The cattle can run either left to right or right to left through the machine with draft gates or slide gates at either end so it doesn't matter which direction the animals are going, we can still draft them. It just makes installation in yards a lot easier."

Driver says the trial at the Bohning Yards will hopefully be the start of a national rollout into saleyards and feedlots across Australia. "This technology has applications anywhere cattle are traded," he says.
"The main benefit for producers will be that they can send their cattle to the yards and know that all their tags are read and their NLIS data transfers are right. "Hopefully if their cattle are lifetime traceable, they should receive a bit of extra money."

At Bohning, as a demonstration mob moves through the race with the NT cattlemen looking on, Driver reflects on the project that took him around the world in search of information. "We've been working on this sort of technology for 3 to 3 1/2  years, very much starting from scratch," he said.

"We were given an idea about revisiting how animals are managed and we've basically, with a lot of consulting and consultation with producers, built a system from the ground up. I tell you, it's been a very interesting and exciting road. It is an amazing feeling to build a product like this that you can see can have such a major benefit to the industry."



Cattle Theft on Rise...but Saleyards are Reluctant to Report it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 

Cattle duffing is becoming the most common rural crime in NSW, with saleyards operators warned to be more vigilant about livestock movements in and around their selling centres.

Assistant Commissioner and Western Region Commander Steve Bradshaw says the livestock industry is wide open to criminal activity.  In particular, saleyard security is increasingly becoming an issue, with many industry representatives reluctant to report thefts because it might give their sale centres a bad reputation, discouraging both vendors and buyers.

By keeping a close eye on stock movements at saleyards, operators can help protect the livestock industries against stock theft and the spread of animal disease by using improved animal tracing techniques, Mr Bradshaw said.  Working with transport operators to make sure forms such asTransported Stock Statements (TSS), National Vendor Declarations (NVD), and National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) information are completed is important.

While it was a legal requirement and in producers' interest to comply with movement and stock identification requirements, all members of the livestock industry also had a responsibility to keep an eye out for criminal activity, Mr Bradshaw said.  He urges operators to work with the police and rural crime units to combat unlawful activity.

Mr Bradshaw said rural crime officially cost the $70 billion Australian agriculture sector about $70 million each year and that was with about 70% of farm crime not reported.  This translated to each farmer losing about $5701 a year from crimes that included theft of livestock, produce, machinery or other property, burglary, vandalism or sabotage, and illegal hunting or fishing.

NSW Farmers Association president, Jock Laurie, said livestock theft should not be taken lightly by authorities.  "Its not easy to prove stock theft because you have to be up to date with your books and show stock movement clearly in documents," he said.  In addition, Mr. Bradshaw stated "but new technologies including camera and video are making headway in combating rural and remote crimes."  He said measures are being put into place to combat stock theft,  included enabling police to issue on-the-spot fines for trespassing and streamlining the system for checking the origin and destination of travelling stock.

Police had created a special operation to target thieves in country areas, with 33 rural crime investigators spread across 27 country local area commands.  Mr Bradshaw said other emerging rural crime trends included the theft of diesel fuel and straying stock, which could become both a safety and financial issue for the public and producers.



Jandowae Company Reaches Worldwide

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 Jandowae is the new home for an Australian company which markets its product around the world.

Aleis Pty Ltd provided an electronic product which could help producers monitor the performance of individual animals during their entire production cycle. Wambo Council Mayor Cr Mick Cosgrove said they were thrilled to have an industry in Jandowae with such relevance to Queensland and Australia alike.

"It is a marvellous boost for the town to have industry coming into it like this - it was what we have dreamed of getting," Cr Cosgrove said.

Aleis Pty Ltd Director, John Finlayson, said the company could gain many things from operating in a place like Jandowae. "We wanted to set-up our own buildings to manufacture our product and wanted to be in the area where we market our product," Mr. Finlayson said.

"People are keen and there has been a lot of co-operation with the Wambo Shire Council as opposed to the cities where they put obstacles in the road," Mr Finlayson said.  The factory was being built, then two offices, and perhaps a third building which, in total, could employ as many as 25 people at the company. The situation in the long term makes it more competitive and then there is the general atmosphere in the country town where people are that much more friendly and work better," he said.

Wambo Shire Council chief executive officer Cohn O'Connor said the company's importance would only grow with the introduction of the National Livestock Identification scheme. "Other industries will sit up and take notice," Mr O'Connor said. "It is a well established business which says to the world we can operate from a country town.  It says to other companies that there is no reason why a company cannot operate efficiently from Jandowae," he said.

Wambo Shire Councillor Tom Bradley said council's aim was to make it as easy as possible for the company to move to Jandowae and said there would be significant economic benefits as a result.



Race Reader Keeps Cattle Moving

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 

The ability to identify slaughter animals with potential disease or residue issues on arrival at the processing plant  - rather than later in the process when they can cause greater disruptions to plant operations - is the key to a new animal ID technology demonstration pilot site.

Demonstrated to industry stakeholders in Brisbane recently was a high-flow dual race lairage reader installed at Australian Country Choice's (ACC) Cannon Hill meatworks. ACC is a large domestic export processor responsible for two thirds of Coles Supermarkets' national beef requirements, as well as exporting into a range of customer countries in Asia and elsewhere.

           

Developed as an industry demonstration site, the lairage reader installation represented a collaborative effort involving ACC, animal ID technology companyALEIS, and Meat & Livestock Australia.  Currently, many abattoirs read National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) devices on animals at point of slaughter or further down the killfloor chain. Occasionally, a body presents without a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag or being identified through the NLIS database as being sourced from a property with a disease or residue risk status. When the animal is detected, action is required by the abattoir to guarantee the relevant testing, isolation, inspection, and if necessary, destruction of the animal.

In a worst case scenario, such as processing stock for the EU market, can mean stopping the kill and carrying out a thorough clean-down of the environment before operations can recommence.  However, by reading stock as they arrive off the road transport vehicle, intervention can occur much earlier in managing those stock through the system.

Single-lane race readers are already used at some abattoirs to read cattle at the point of unloading, but these have several significant drawbacks.  Australian Meat Industry Council livestock committee chairman, Geoff Teys, said in the case of his own company's Beenleigh plant in southern Queensland, the reading areas at arrival are single-file, single-lane only which greatly slows down the unloading process and requires up to three staff members to operate. For these reasons, the Beenleigh installation is used for EU-accredited cattle only.

However the high-flow dual race reader demonstrated at ACC overcomes many of these limitations.  "Particularly for those abattoirs which read tags further down the slaughter chain, this system has significant advantages," Mr Teys said.

The ACC installation relies on a bank of 16 panel readers and antennae to simultaneously read two lanes — each carrying up to three — of a typical double-deck livestock transport consignment. The design eliminates bottlenecks or unloading disruptions or risk of additional bruising as the area is basically unchanged from ACC's pre-existing receival area layout.  The ultimate design involved livestock, engineering and RFID technology teams working side-by-side to achieve the right outcome.

The project's aim was to achieve 99.54% accuracy in reading RFID devices in cattle arrivals, and this is being regularly surpassed with most killing days in the range from 99.139% to 100%. The only 'non-reads' to date have been found to be due not to the lairage reader's performance, but from animals not carrying a tag or those with faulty tags.

John Finlayson, Manager of ID technology developer ALEIS, said the installation at ACC was challenging in a number of ways.

The basic aim was to achieve high rates of RFID device reading accuracy while delivering no disruptions to normal double-deck unloading operations. He said by their nature, abattoirs were difficult environments for RFID tag reading applications because of extensive radio frequency interference caused by nearby electric motors. This required close analysis of the surrounding site at ACC in order to identify problem areas and isolate or insulate 'noisy' motors.
 




Recent Posts


RSS BLOG HOME

Tags

Archive

    • ISO 9001 : 2000 Registered Firm
    • Australian Made
    • Australian Technology Showcase Award - Australian Government
    • Queensland Premier's Export Awards 2005 - Australia
    • Queensland Premier's Smart Awards - Winner

    SUBSCRIBE TO ALEIS NEWS