Domestic Lamb

Goat meat pricing helps TFI as sheep and lamb supplies drop

Terry Sim, May 29, 2019

TFI aims to maintain small stock processing at Lobethal during winter

RECORD goat meat pricing has helped major meat processor Thomas Foods International maintain its usual winter slaughter schedule despite waning lamb and sheep supplies.

TFI is the first to announce a normal six-week winter maintenance slowdown at its Lobethal plant in South Australia despite quickly tightening lamb and sheep supplies.

TFI’s Lobethal plant annual maintenance ‘slowdown’ to a single day shift will start on Monday 24 June and run to Friday 2 August, allowing alternate shift workers to have three weeks off over the South Australian school holiday period.

The TFI announcement comes as other processors are reportedly considering winding back their slaughter operations due to concerns about the sustainability of current price levels and future supply expectations.

TFI national livestock manager – sheep and lambs, Paul Leonard said livestock will still be required and at this stage there is no intention to bring the slowdown forward despite tightening sheep and lamb supplies.

“It’s the normal one we have every year.”

“By the time we get back you are starting to almost run into the new season lambs.”

Mr Leonard said TFI’s Tamworth plant will continue to operate at full production levels for six days a week.

The company is not expecting sourcing of supplies to be easy over the next few months, but intends to operate normally despite the tightening of supply, he said.

Lobethal’s slaughter supplies have been helped by TFI recently announcing a record goat price of $10/kg for 6.1kg-plus cwt animals, which was lifted to $10.30/kg this week. TFI is the only plant in Australia paying this rate for goats down to 6.1kg carcase weight.

He said TFI’s Lobethal plant, in the week up to 24 May killed 7890 goats, more than all the facilities in Victoria (7196 goats) or Queensland and New South Wales combined (7516) processed in the same period.

“We obviously got a great response, particularly for this time of the year.”

Meat & Livestock Australia said last week’s national goat slaughter figure of 22,602 is 32 percent up on the previous week and 47pc above the figure for the same period last year.

This contrasts with a 7pc drop in lamb slaughter in the week to 24 May to 347,942, which is 15pc below the kill in the same period last year. The national sheep kill of 96,015 in that week was 13pc lower than the previous week and 22pc lower than last year.

Other sheep and lamb processors contacted by Sheep Central were reluctant to confirm their slaughter schedule plans, although agents believe companies are concerned about the sustainability of maintaining operational levels at the current supply levels. Some companies are reportedly considering slaughtering cutbacks in July and August.

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