LETTER: Flying Cattle Class


Sir – In the early hours of Sunday morning 199 high quality heifers from Bunda Station in the NT took to the air in a 747, on route to a new life in Indonesia.  Owner of the cattle Reg Underwood spent most of the night working with his stud master to load the cattle into specialised crates, six at a time before clearance by two supervising AQIS vets, loading and take-off.
Bunda Station stud master Brent McCarthy who has known each of the 199 since they were born, accompanied the special cargo on the successful 3.5 hour flight to Jakarta.  He will stay with them for the last leg of their journey to the Stud farm in Southern Sumatra, returning home when everyone is sure they have settled in.  This includes a formal training and familiarisation program for their Indonesian handlers to ensure they are well introduced to the young Australian heifers.
The heifers will form part of a nucleus herd that will produce high quality offspring to seed genetic improvement in the region.
Exporter Adam Armstrong and livestock airfreight specialist Simon Jackson worked through the cool of the night to ensure the special cargo was prepared well for the trip.  For them this is common practice, last seen in Darwin some years ago with a shipment of goats.
A couple of months ago it looked like it may never happen with Reg Underwood told he may have to truck the cattle to Sydney to be airlifted, however quick work by the NT Primary Industry Minister Willem Westra van Holthe turned things around,  got the airport focussed on the opportunity and the rest is now history.  “It reinforces the critical part Darwin plays as a hub for our region, at the doorstep of Asia” said NTCA President David Warriner, who was present at the loading.  “Jakarta is also a lot closer to Darwin than Sydney” said Mr Warriner.
“I think some people, and even some producers may think it is unusual that we are sending breeding stock to Indonesia, especially when there is a lot of talk about self-sufficiency.  That is understandable, however you only have to spend some time in Indonesia and understand the enormous economic and social development that is driving accelerated demand for protein and seriously challenging local production capacity.
“While there is currently a reduced quota for live cattle and beef from Australia, we believe that there will be ample room for Indonesian growth in production, and Australian exports of live cattle and beef in the longer term” said Mr Warriner.
“Relationships play a critical role and we need to be doing a lot more to grow our relationship with Indonesia, and between the farmers and producers of our 2 countries.  This shipment of stud cattle is very important, and testament to Reg Underwood who has contributed greatly to the brahman breed in northern Australia”. said Mr Warriner.
Luke Bowen
NT Cattlemen’s Association


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