FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE: The University of Adelaide study tour visited five Indonesian feedlots, including Juang Jaya Lampung, which is majority owned by Consolidated Pastoral Company.

Indonesian beef feedlots on edge with high prices

High Australian feeder cattle prices and restrictive government policy continue to knock the confidence of Indonesia's beef feedlot industry, according to University of Adelaide School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences' professor Wayne Pitchford.

High Australian feeder cattle prices and restrictive government policy continue to knock the confidence of Indonesia's beef feedlot industry, according to University of Adelaide School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences' professor Wayne Pitchford.

ln late November, he led a group of 13 Animal Science and Agriculture students on a 20-day study tour to northern Australia, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Prof Pitchford says they found the industry in a very similar state to 2016, with feedlots running at only 50 per cent capacity and profit margins very tight.

“We expected to see the feedlot capacity well down but because they are committed to a full-time workforce it was higher than we expected,” he said.

“On the station, the live exporters and the companies at the feedlots all said the price per kilogram of feeder cattle has to be less than $A3/kg for the system to work.

“Over $3/kg and it is hard for anyone to make money.

“They can’t really sell their beef for much more than $11/kg but when the Indian buffalo is $8/kg there is downward pressure on price.”

The itinerary for the annual tour, which is in its sixth year, included visits to five feedlots near Jakarta and on Sumatra.

It also included a briefing by Meat & Livestock Australia at the Australian embassy.

The group also visited a school for disabled children that has a new $250,000 training centre funded by Australian live exporters and were reunited with Bogor University students who visited Australia in the middle of last year.

Prof Pitchford says they saw Indian buffalo meat being substituted as local beef.

“The frozen Indian buffalo was a distinctly different colour to the fresh beef in the markets but when we asked the wholesalers if it was buffalo they said it was beef,” he said.

The final three days of the trip were spent at University of Adelaide graduate Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello’s charity, Cows for Cambodia.

It is changing the lives of poverty-stricken families and has just bought a 20-hectare farm.

Each family is loaned a pregnant cow and keeps the calf when it is born, gradually improving their financial status.

The students donated a buffalo and pigs to villagers and helped with rice runs.

“Within three hours they were able to identify the difference between the poor and the poorest of the poor,” Prof Pitchford said.

“There is no way you can teach that but the experience helped them see which really struck me.”

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