ORGANIC cattle producers will now have a route to market through Longreach following confirmation the Western Queensland Livestock Exchange (WQLX) has been granted organic certification.
AAM’s Queensland Regional Operations Manager, Gavin Tickle, said growing demand for organic cattle drove the decision to obtain certification for the facility which is predominantly used for transit and spelling.
On average, the yards process 95,000 to 120,000 head of cattle per year, and Mr Tickle said he expects this number to significantly increase now that organically certified livestock can be accommodated.
“In Queensland and the Northern Territory, organic is definitely a growing market, and a lot of producers who transit through our facility are starting to meet that demand, so this is a way to support this growing industry opportunity and better serve the needs of our customer base,” Mr Tickle said.
“It’s also a great step forward for animal welfare in that the journey for organic livestock, particularly from Northern Australia, can now be broken at Longreach where we have best-practice water and feeding infrastructure in place.”
Already WQLX is popular for spelling cattle on long-haul journeys from northern and western locations given its strategic location between the farmgate and key markets.
In securing organic certification, and positioning itself as a central point of exchange, AAM is enhancing WQLX’s role as a critical link in the East Coast livestock supply chain.
“Consumers are becoming more considered about what they eat and many are seeking organic products,” Mr Tickle said.
“We are anticipating the facility will be accommodating a variety of organic cattle – restocking cattle, cattle for processing and cattle for breeding.
“This will mean as the organic market continues to grow, we will facilitate certified cattle going in all directions, not just south-east for processing, but also north for backgrounding and breeding.”
The certification process was streamlined by WQLX already having key structural elements in place and a robust management framework, which required only small tweaks to meet certification requirements.
This process included auditing to confirm WQLX had the required feeding facilities and soil testing to ensure there was no chemical residue detected onsite.
Mr Tickle said it was important to also highlight that while, organic certification will broaden WQLX’s customer base, the facility still offers high-quality spelling for regular cattle.
“Our entire facility is organic certified, however regular cattle can still be accommodated,” Mr Tickle said.
“We can be very flexible and are able to ramp up and down both sides of the business, and can cater to quite a large volume of organic cattle at the same time as a large number of regular livestock.
“We are the only spelling facility in the region that offers bunk feeding, which allows us to ensure we exceed the minimum feeding energy requirement. We also don’t just feed any hay, we only use high-quality hay – so livestock are well-looked after.
“Another big advantage, is we are also able to provide soft river water from the Thomson River, which is preferred by cattle and helps them hydrate and stay healthy during the spelling period.”