Meat & Livestock News

Weather Challenges Impact Queensland Beef Processing Operations


  • Queensland’s beef processing operations are severely impacted by weather disruptions following Cyclone Kirrilly, with heavy rainfall causing supply challenges.
  • Road closures and flooded paddocks have hindered cattle movement, leading to temporary closures and operational uncertainties among processors.
  • Efforts to mitigate supply shortages include offering ‘wet weather money’ and sourcing cattle from less affected regions, with processors in northern NSW facing fewer disruptions.

This week, Queensland’s beef processing operations are facing significant disruptions due to adverse weather conditions. The aftermath of Cyclone Kirrilly has brought heavy rainfall across the region, affecting Central and Southern Queensland the most. The early part of the week saw processing plants struggling to maintain supply, with expectations of these challenges persisting until mid-February.

Recent rainfall, including massive downpours of up to 200-250mm in southeast Queensland, compounded by last week’s widespread rain, has led to road and river crossing closures.

This has made many areas inaccessible, with numerous paddocks submerged or too muddy for cattle movement. Although feedlots on all-weather roads usually provide a temporary solution, many are currently isolated due to road closures, including significant routes like the Warrego Highway.

In Queensland’s northwest, areas around McKinlay and Kynuna have experienced severe flooding, receiving 400-500mm of rain since Saturday.

This has led to the closure of the Flinders Highway, a vital link between Mt Isa and Townsville. The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts that the remnants of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily will linger over western Queensland for the next few days.

As a result, some beef processors in Queensland have announced temporary closures, while others are uncertain about their operational capacity for the remainder of the week and possibly into the next. Despite efforts to adjust by sourcing alternative cattle supplies, including grain-fed cattle, the industry faces a challenging week ahead.

To address the supply shortfall, some processors have offered ‘wet weather money’ in their direct consignment offers, hoping to stimulate interest. However, maintaining slaughter rates remains a struggle. Price adjustments have been made, with some Queensland grids increasing by 20c/kg, and processors are actively reviewing their pricing strategies to attract more bookings.

In contrast, processors in southern regions, less affected by the current weather disruptions, have maintained steadier operations. Rates for cattle processing in southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia show a variance, reflecting the geographical impact of the weather conditions.

Northern New South Wales processors, including the Northern Cooperative Meat Co at Casino and Bindaree Beef at Inverell, report minimal impact on their supply chains. Nevertheless, several Queensland processors have sought cattle from the south to mitigate supply challenges, leading to heightened competition at sales like NVLX Wodonga, where prices for heavy steers, bullocks, and cows have seen significant increases.

The weekly Tuesday Roma store sale witnessed a reduction in numbers, with only 2900 cattle yarded due to the weather, indicating a trend towards higher prices for cows and heavy steers as processors vie for available stock.