Meat works at capacity

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North Otago farmers are sending their stock to the meat works earlier than usual because of increasing demand for stock feed caused by dry conditions in the area.

Farmers don’t want to do it but with very little rain about they are finding it hard to feed their stock.

Federated Farmers national president William Rolleston said it was something farmers were doing out of reluctance.

“They certainly don’t want to be in the situation that they’re in at the moment and would much rather have feed available, but for some of them getting feed is just too costly and the safest idea is to send them to the freezing works.”

“With other places drying up it’s becoming harder to get hold of feed and this means that the works are the only option,” Mr Rolleston said.

“The works are having to increase work hours to keep up with the demand.”

North Otago Federated Farmers dairy chairman Lyndon Strang said farmers had no choice.

“The farmers aren’t having any choice but to send their excess stock to the works as they’re finding it hard to keep up the demand for feed, but also the prices for beef are higher than they’ve been for some time.”

Cows used for milking and the main sheep on farms are staying, but anything excess is being sent away.

“The meat works are doing a fantastic job and sometimes they often go unnoticed. Obviously it’s good for them because they can have set hours for their workers,” he said.

PGG Wrightson North Otago livestock manager Mark Yates said the problem had been occurring since before Christmas.

“People have been sending stock to the works since about December.

“It’s a widespread problem along the East Coast not just from within North Otago but as far south as Dunedin and as north as Marlborough, because areas are drying up making it harder to place the stock,” he said.

“The biggest issue could be around feed in the winter and that there won’t be enough feed for stock over that period.”

Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant manager Geoff Proctor said the Pukeuri plant was operating at capacity and was working five days a week processing both sheep and beef.

“At this stage we won’t be looking at getting any more staff as we’re full.

“We’re not entirely sure just how long we will be at full capacity. It will depend on the climate and whether we get a good chunk of rain,” he said.

By Brayden Lindsay