Where the heck have all the abattoirs gone?

An industry commissioned report into Meat Processing in Australia dated 1994, stated in  1972 there were 550 meat processing facilities, by my reckoning in 2013 we have less than 100 abattoirs that process red meat, and I can’t help but wonder “Where the heck have all the Australian abattoirs gone?”.

I’m bit of a history buff, in particular concerning Australian agriculture and NT pastoralism.

With the Live export ban, I started to collect more information and while I used some of this information for writing articles it was disjointed and difficult to find, I am disappointed it so hard to obtain any or even consistent information regarding the workings of abattoirs in Australia.

So I started to bring together information myself, fairly amateurish, some even just hearsay but I started with just the Katherine abattoir, creating timelines of its operations, establishment, owners, incidents of significance and then the closure and why it closed.

I’ve burned my internet download, frequented several libraries, poured over my beloved NT history books and annoyed as many long term pastoralists as I can, including ringing friends and family of friends who have given me names of people who worked at these sites.

This exercise has grown slightly, as I have started to collect information on literally every abattoir I happened across.  I have focused on NT, WA and QLD as these are the states most affected by live cattle exports, which is the main market my families property supply. The abattoirs I have tried to research are those currently operating, those closed, from the very old to only recently closed, at last count through the 3 states NT, QLD and WA nearly 110, including other states another 30. I have also tried to put together a very basic list of important milestones and factors affecting the meat industry in the 3 states.

I don’t dispel that live export has affected the supply of animals and affected operations, but I’m not convinced that assuming no live animal export will automatically ensure Australian abattoirs can easily hold their own on the international meat market stage.

Australian Abattoirs face incredible pressures both economically and fundamentally in the long term due to the prevailing factors of

  • animal supply
  •  seasons
  •  labour and Unions
  •  government regulations
  •  markets
  • costs of services/goods/production
  • International dollar currency values/exchange and
  •  abattoirs own ‘interesting’ management choices.

The information I have found isn’t necessarily proven fact or checked for authenticity though I have tried to base it on documented articles as much as possible and people with real experience. I make no claims it is even comprehensive. Many of the sources are newspapers of which I have no ability to verify but hope they certainly state the facts as they believe them to be correct at the time.

I intend to update the information as often as I can. In some cases there are abattoirs that I may have incorrectly allocated information too as Abattoir names may be referred to by others as suburb locality, the current owner at that time or just the general area they are located.  At times information in some articles particularly in regards to exact dates, contradicts other articles so there may be a variance in some timelines as to exact years of closures and operations. In that case I have listed both articles to try to show the reader a discrepancy exists. I have tried to refer to abattoirs in the suburb in which they are located.

If you see something that is wrong I would sincerely like you to contact me so I can correct it. If you know information or others who may like information added please contact me and I will certainly consider, especially if it is documented and willing to provide evidence of or by people who managed, owned and worked in these sites.

I would greatly appreciate more input to add to this data. If you know of articles, books or reports that discuss abattoirs, please feel free to supply the name of the articles, I need the article title, authors, dates of publishment and any other details to source the articles in libraries and such.

There is so much knowledge out there and I feel saddened that much is being lost because people may feel it is inconsequential now.

I have referenced as much information as I could, though personal conversations I have called #1, #2 as some of these people though happy to give me information don’t want their names on the internet.

I do have more photographs to put in for various sites but I’m still seeking permission to use them, so if you see a note to this effect I hope to eventually get that permission and add that photo.

I am happy for people to use information from this site as long as they acknowledge the http://www.cattleproducer.wordpress.com site, if you use the photos that are mine please ask first, all are permanently digitally marked and can be traced.

It is going to take a while to get the information up on the site due to the fact I have a real job at home.

I hope you find the following articles informative.  Jo

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Categories: Australian abattoirs, Purpose of research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Where the heck have all the abattoirs gone?

  1. Anna & Graham

    You could be doing so much with your time to improve your own industry and lobby for better welfare overseas working with big exporters etc. Instead you choose to use your time (lots of it) to try and paint a picture to support a belief you have re live export and abattoirs.
    What a waste of time while your industry goes down the gurgler.
    You should be lobbying NT to establish abattoirs as live export declines!!!!

  2. nojoke

    love your work. Fascinating stuff. Its pretty standard either big business or bureaucracy shuts down a good thing, or the combination of both. I love how the greenies have no concept of the ‘real world’. They provide no economic alternative to the businesses they seek to destroy. They, themselves, no different to the corporate entities or the govt, being swayed by the purse strings of some large corporate body with some hidden agenda.

  3. s

    Politely Anna and Graham but please think a little bit more about “lobby” for better welfare overseas working with big exporters. Ultimately we do not have full control on other countries and how they treat cattle once it lands. But we do in Australia. And if you bothered to have a look many people did argue and argue again over establishing abattoirs and re-opening old abattoirs in Australia which fell on deaf ears, e.g. http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2011/09/13/182041_local-news.html\. I suppose the government at the time just did not find it high on its list of priorities.

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