Other Names

Current Operation


  • Guyra is located 35km North of Armidale in NSW. Armidale is approximately 460 km North of Sydney

Australia. Guyra

GuyraHema Maps – Australia Truckies atlas.


  • DR Johnston Group Pty Limitied1
    • Other articles say DA Johnston Pty Limited4
  • Australian Meat Holdings4




  • NSW government closed all government owned small slaughterhouse facilities that didn’t meet hygiene and inspections standards.3


  • NSW Government built Guyra abattoir as a central facility for the areas meat processing needs3
    • Operated as New England Abattoir Council4
    • Finance was entirely from loan funds $1.83M3
    • abattoir didn’t trade in meat on its own behalf but service kill – cattle, sheep, pigs3


  • Estimated cost of processing one head of cattle is equivalent to 8.3 sheep or lambs or 6.9 pigs.3

1977 – 1981

  • Meat and Live-stock Corporation estimate that between 1977-19813
    • Cattle capacity utlisation declined from 84% to 60% nationally3
    • Declined cattle capacity utilisation in NSW alone 92% to 58%3
    • Sheep capacity declined from 83% to 66% nationally3
    • Declined sheep capacity utilisation in NSW alone 86% to 77%3
    • Between 1977 – mid 1981 22 abattoirs ceased operations.3


  • Following several months unprofitable operations the abattoir was ‘mothballed’3
    • mothballed is term used to keep maintenance and requirements on repairs on facility up to date but not actually processing any animals.
  • Ceased trading in February due to drought4
  • 150 people lost jobs caused Guyra unemployment to go from 0% to 13.3% by July4


  • Guyra unemployment by March 27.4% – highest unemployment figure for a NSW country town4


  • State government waived about $6M of the debt accumulated (Total debt was nearly $7M at the time of sale) – on condition that licence to slaughter was surrendered.3
  • Abattoir was sold to new owners for $0.8M3
  • Purchased by AMH, abattoir was export registered at the time (Pg 126)
  • Private ownership – abattoir reopened – again as a service facility3
  • March – Abattoir re-opened DA Johnston Pty Limited4


  • Previous 3 years – plant had substantial investment of capital (Pg 126)
  • AMH approached their banker – Hong Kong Banking Corporation for a partner (Pg 126)
  • AMH entered into 50/50 partnership with DR Johnston to operate the abattoir (Pg 126)
    • DR Johnston were a trading house that ran grain, stockfeed, protein meals & fishmeal, aswel as 5 different meat trading businesses


  • Note – Article cites that Guyra came to AMH in 1991 from ConAgra (Pg 130)


  • abattoir closed for its annual Christmas close-down1


  • workers meant to resume work in January but unavailability of stock led to period extension 1 week.1
  • February. 25th – further shortage of stock and a close-down for six weeks until re-opening 14th April 19941
    • Employees remained on the books but didn’t receive pay.1
    • Some workers seeked employment elsewhere while abattoir closed1
  • June. 9th 220 people stood down1
    • accepted that period of this closure – 17 weeks between June 94 and October 94 was a seasonal closure in respect of the meat industry arising out of a shortage of stock1
  • October. 10th. plant reopened but on a reduced scale slaughtering beef1
    • Half of dismissed employees offered re-employment1
      • 27 didn’t accept1
  • AMH frustrated by what it saw as unproductive and inefficent industrial practices, began a process to change the working arrangements in its plants (Pg 128)
    • Restricted production to minium tally and temporily closed some plants – Guyra was the 1st (Pg 128)
    • AMH said to have budgeted $30M to ‘break’ the unions, by 1996 the estimated cost was $70M (Pg 126)


  • Guyra abattoir taken to Industrial relations commission of NSW by AMIEU1
    • dispute over severence pay and entitlements to people who didn’t take up employment when plant reopened. October 19941
  • House prices in Guyra dropped $15,000 day of abattoir closure, some brick homes were being sold for under $30,0009


  • Guyra as considered a marginal operation, it was closed.(Pg 126)
    • Killed only 21,427 for the year. Never worked again after this (Pg 130)
  • Australian Meat holdings now owned Guyra4
    • AMH controlled by big US rural commodities trader – ConAgra, a major exporter from North America10
    • AMH accounts for 16.5% of Australia’s beef kill.10
    • currently owns another 8 facilities but will be consolidating to 5 and closing Beaudesert (QLD), Guyra and Portland (Vic)4
      • others owned Dinmore, Townsville, Rockhampton and Aberdeen10
          • Author note – not sure of 8th.
      • Intended that 300 jobs would be replaced at Dinmore when expansion completed there10
    • AMH intend to invest in larger more efficent plant – Aberdeen abattoir (NSW)
      • Aberdeen closed in 1999 – reasons cited as stock shortages5
        • AMH closed Aberdeen to send all cattle to Dinmore abattoir (QLD) – Even with added cost of cartage costs of processing were still $14 per head/cattle cheaper processed in QLD than NSW6
  • Guyra – Early in 1996 enterprise agreement was reached – first of its kind in Australia4
    • strenuously opposed by AMIEU and employees from other abattoirs4
    • Guyra employees entered agreement to protect jobs and allow abattoir to be viable4
  • AMH had fought intense battles with meat industry unions to introduce workplace agreements warning that AMH “..had long warned the Australian meat processing industry needed to significantly increase it’s international competitiveness”  Kieth Lawson AMH CEO.10
  • Up to half the states (NSW) 56 abattoirs could close with the loss of up to 5,000 jobs in country NSW due to industry rationalisation.2
    • outdated and inefficent abattoirs could follow Guyra2
    • Industry observers say beef export abattoirs – Wingham, Mudgee, Gunnedah and possibly Inverell are most at risk2
    • Administrators had been appointed at Blayney abattoir (NSW)2
      • Blayney closed 1998 – stock shortages cited but observers say economic factors7
    • Newer and efficent plants expected to survive – Young, Gundagai, Calcairn, Cootamundra and Harden2
    • Others that had recent capital investment should survive – Goulburn, Dubbo2
      • these had provided benchmark for state beef processing of efficency gains necessary2
      • Niche market suppliers would likely survive – Casino abattoir (QLD). Lismore2
    • Industries fundamental problem – lack of plant investment due to price wars2
    • USA had taken Australian market share Japan, Korea and Taiwan2
      • Cattle prices had slumped in the last six months (First half of 1996)
    • Live export was sending 500,000 cattle to Indonesia and Philippines2
    • Gunnedah abattoir was receiving stamp duty concessions that no other plants were getting.2


  • Guyra abattoir site being developed for rabbit farming enterprise8


  1. DR Johnston Group Pty Ltd (Guyra abattoir) and W Archer & 219 Ors (1995) NSWIRComm 172 (31st August 1995)
  2. ‘5000 jobs at risk: abattoirs facing closure SMH 21.05.1996.
  3. ‘Short run costs and throughput variability of a NSW abattoir’ Piggott, Small 1987
  4. ‘Guyra abattoir closure’ Mr Raymond Chappell 15.05.96
  6. ‘State rules shut abattoir’ The Land 06.07.00
  7. ‘600 sacked workers given just a weeks pay’ Sydney morning herald. 10.03.1998.
  8. ‘Guyra man killed in forklift accident on abattoir site’ Northern daily. 07.06.2011.
  9. ‘Guyra’s comeback faces further hurdles’ Landline 12.10.2003
  10. ‘US Beef exporters force three abattoirs to close’ SMH 15.05.1996

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