Category Archives: Factors affecting Operations

Gepps Cross

The information in regards to the Gepps Cross processing facilities is taken from predominently one book , ‘The Meat Game – A History of the Gepps Cross Abattoirs and Livestock Markets by Richard Maurovic 2007.Published by Wakefield Press. ISBN 978-1-86254-726-1

Historical aspects are included of the Adelaide and metropolitan areas.


GPD              Government Produce Department

MAB             Metropolitan Abattoir Board

MEAB          Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Board



  • Parliamentary Act is introduced requiring licensing ‘for slaughter cattle intended for sale, barter, shipping or exportation’ (Pg 9)
  • A public slaughter yard was located in the Adelaide Parklands, Thebarton (Pg 9)
    • Authorised location for the slaughter of cattle  for the Adelaide Municipality
    • At the time it was against the law to slaughter cattle  in any other place within the city or within 3 miles of the parkland.
    • Facility was of modest scale and the cities butchers would slaughter their own cattle for a fee
    • It was not compulsory for lambs, sheep and pigs to be slaughtered at the public slaughter yard (pg 10)
    • Slaughtered animals were carried unchilled from slaughter house to their (butcher) shops (Pg 13)
      • During hot weather no stock of meat was kept on hand
      • Meat on display at retail was exposed to dogs, flies and dust
      • Maggots were common problem with pepper being used to deter them (Pg 13)
      • Some butchers had cellars to store meat.
      • A more hygienic method was recognised to be needed (pg 10)
  • Prior to the slaughter yard being built, Adelaide’s 38 butchers would slaughter stock at their own yards
    • butcher sites had no drainage facilities, sheep were stuck and bled over a blood-hole that had to be cleaned and created stench (pg 13)
  • Butchers outside the limits could slaughter stock if they held a licence and were inspected (pg 13)
  • Associated industries established near the slaughter facility along the River Torrens at the present site of the Thebarton Brewery (Pg 13)
    • Eventually they were forced to close due to public protests of health and pollution
  • Railway from Adelaide to Gawler was built (Pg 30)


  • Sheep market area is set aside by proclamation of Government for the purpose of selling sheep (Pg 42)
    • 4 acres in the area of the North Parklands (Pg 42)
    • These facilities were used up until 1913 when the Gepps Cross yards were constructed (Pg 42)
    • This site became very cramped due to numbers being processed (Pg 42)


  • Rise of the meat export trade due to outbreak of anthrax on the European continent that spread to England and Ireland devastating their domestic herds (Pg 149)
    • Australia was able to supply canned meats
    • Salted beef was shipped from America


  • Method of cattle sales by auction is introduced (Pg 6)
    • Sales are conducted at the site currently (2006) known at Pyneham, Lower North East and Glynburn Roads (Pg 6)
    • Prior to auction cattle were valued according to weight and condition, butchers purchasing at a fixed price (Pg 41)
      • Price was set by the salesman (Pg 44)


  • Great difficulty is found to dispose of old ewes and a boiling works is established (Pg 6)
    • Located at Port Adelaide (Off Henley Beach Road) at Mile End, operated by EM ‘Ned’ Bagot (Pg 6)
      • This facility closed when Leopald Conrad established works at Northfield, where the Yatal Prison is now (2006) located (Pg 9)
        • Yatala Prison area was formerly known as ‘The Stockade'(Pg 9)
    • Another boiling works was established on the Port River, at the present railway bridge of Ethelton, West Lakes (2006). Operated by Dean & Laughton (Pg 6)
      • This facility also started a canning operation but was not sucessful, being a venture ahead of its time (Pg 7)


  • Proposal to establish a public abattoir away from the city was canvassed (Pg 15)
    • Ratepayers were asked to support a scheme to borrow £10,000 to  build an new abattoir and adjacent livestock market
    • Proposal was rejected and other polls taken in 1882, 1883 and 1898 also rejected the idea (Pg 15)


  • Proposal to build an abattoir out of the city is rejected for the 2nd time (pg 15)


  • Proposal to build an abattoir out of the city is rejected for the 3rd time (pg 15)


  • Prior to this period, any stock oversupply  weas used for canning or boiled down for tallow (Pg 4)
  • Refrigeration is introduced in some meat houses, resulted in oversupply becoming less of a problem (Pg 4)
  • Most animals were sold directly, the auction system was becoming increasingly popular that allowed greater competition (Pg 5)
  • New public slaughter house was built behind the Adelaide gaol. Location now is Bonython Park (pg 10)
  • A new cattle market site had been established called the Adelaide Corporation Yards (pg 10)
  • A sheep market already operated in the area near a hotel that still exists (2006) and is called ‘Newmarket’ (Pg 10)
    • Sheep flocks were regularly walked through the streets of what is now Adelaide city to the market destinations (Pg 10)


  • Cattle market situated at Thebarton, near the Adelaide gaol was opened (Pg 41)
    • First beasts auctioned in 1886 (Pg 41)


  • Severe droughts affected stock numbers and prices (Pg 4)
  • A small export slaughterhouse of 20 solo hooks is established at Dry Creek (Pg 53)
    • Is a German Export works operated by Leopold Conrad, a prominent Adelaide butcher (Pg 53)
    • Spring lambs were slaughtered at Dry Creek between August – November
    • Carcases transported to Freezers at Port Adelaide by speciality railway wagons.
  • A consignment of chilled meat from the Moreton meatworks in Brisbane is sent to Britain fails with 70% condemned on arrival (Pg 150)


  • Government Produce Department  establish the Port Adelaide Freezing works to open up and develop overseas markets for SA perishable goods (Pg 53)
    • Located at Ocean Steamers’ Wharf (Pg 54)
    • Four freezing chambers (Pg 54)
  • Port of Adelaide ship its first export of frozen meat to Britain containing mostly lamb, pig and poultry (Pg 53)
  • Export of pigs occurs with 80 carcasses to Britain (Pg 191)


  • Proposal to build an abattoir out of the city is rejected for the 4th time (pg 15)


  • Public committee is taking evidence  to consider the establishment of a centrally located meatworks to slaughter cattle, sheep and pigs (Pg 15)
    • Various councils were asked for their support


  • SA State government introduce a Bill to allow municipal authorities the power to borrow money to establish a public abattoir (Pg 16)
    • Initial site proposed was near the existing slaughter house at the Adelaide gaol
    • Bill was defeated as a suitable site could not be agreed upon


  • Dry Creek slaughter house had no tally system and men were paid for treating 130 lambs a day on a ‘go as you please’ basis (Pg 54)
    • Between seasons overfat ewes were killed and boiled down there (Pg 54)


  • 11 of the 15 councils consulted favor a proposal for a site north of Adelaide (Pg 16)
  • 1902 Parliamentary Bill to enable borrowings to build an abattoir are shelved due to alterations


  • Dry Creeks facility is unable to cope with the number of stock due to the increase in exports (Pg 54)
    • Facility is closed (Pg 54)
  • Government Produce Department (Pg 54)
    • Builds a sheep meatworks at the Port Adelaide wharf (Pg 54)
      • Consists of a double slaughter board with 100 hooks
      • more chambers and a drying room
      • Cattle and sheep yards
      • Beef slaughterhouse
    • Enlarge the freezers at the Port Adelaide wharf.
  • Bill is passed with an amendment to compensate butchers who owned private slaughterhouses which would be forced to close once the new abattoirs (Gepps Cross)  became operational (Pg 16)
    • Compensation was £7,000 to each butcher owner (Pg 21)


  •  Metropolition Abattoirs Act receives Governors assent 2nd December 1908 (pg 16)
  • The Metropolition Abattoirs Board (MAB) is also established(pg 16)
  • Estimated cost of the completed works is £353,000 (equivalent $50M at 2006)(pg 16)
  • Abattoirs site area is now Mawson Lakes, Pooraka (2006) was known as Dry Creek (pg 29)
  • Land area purchased for the site was 289 acres at Gepps Cross (Pg 17)
    • Additional land was purchased of 118 acres and 78 acres (Pg 17)
      • Total area of 480 acres(Pg 17)
    • Further land is acquired to extend the total area to 611 acres.
      • also accommodates crop growing areas (Pg 20)
    • Entire area at completion of abattoir, stock markets and paddocks is 626 acres (Pg 38)
      • Stock markets would occupy 18 acres (Pg 38)
  • Design of the entire facility, buildings, stockyards and surrounding buildings was  based on requirments of;(Pg 19)
    • Location outside of the city, with no indication it will be soon surrounded by buildings
    • Road access
    • Connection with a railway
    • Capable of underground drainage
    • Have sufficent water
    • Be of sufficent size to allow assured extensions in at least 30 years time
  • Entire public abattoirs scheme was elaborate, ambitious and impressive (Pg 36)
  • No expense was to be spared to make every department conform to highest level of hygiene.(Pg 36)
  • Livestock would be closely inspected with every precaution to prevent the sale of diseased meat (Pg 36)
  • Customers would be assured of guaranteed cleanliness and pure food product (Pg 36)


  • Advertisements are placed for designs and workers who may be interested in employment (Pg 19)
    • 10 designs were received.
    • Charles A D’Ebro of Melbourne won the design contract for the abattoirs
      • Had designed a facility in Footscray, Victoria for Angliss and Co (Pg 19)
        • Also Brooklyn for Thomas Borthwick & Sons
        • Geelong for Portland Freezing works
        • Abattoirs for the city of Bendigo
        • Shire of Oakleigh, Western Australia.
    • MAB only accepted the abattoir plans and didn’t consider any of stock market designs to be suitable and designed their own.
  • Construction was planned to begin early 1910 (Pg 19)
    • Capacity to slaughter 500 cattle, 4,500 sheep and 280 pigs per day
    • Design enabled stock to be held in covered yards
    • 7 chilling halls
    • Adjacent saleyards would accomodate 3,000 cattle, 50,000 sheep and 2,000 pigs
  • Gepps Cross was to only process stock for consumption in the Adelaide Metroplitan area (Pg 56)
  • Meat for export was processed at GPD abattoir and freezing works at Port Adelaide (Pg 56)


  • Government construct a butter factory, meat conserving and canning works at the Port Adelaide wharf (Pg 54)
    • Also establish a state owned butcher shop at Port Adelaide (Pg 54)
      • sells reject lambs not up to export standard (Pg 54)
        • this causes conflict with local butchers as the meat is sold at reduced prices (Pg 54)
  • Stock Market construction tender is accepted for Gepps Cross (Pg 20)
    • Cattle stock yards would enable 400 cattle to be sold through the sale ring per hour.
      • Sale ring capable to hold an audience of 200 people with individual animals paraded and then removed, Actual buyers remain seated
      • Building had provision for refreshments and a telephone room
  • Principal contract for construction of the abattoir went to Wadey & Co of Melbourne (Pg 20)
    • Used 11M bricks in construction (Pg 38)
  • Contract to build motor garages, workshops and 47 workers cottages – Colyer & Hill
  • Eyes and Crowie supplied motor lorries (Pg 20)
    • 7 tonne, 27 horsepower Commers (Pg 23)
    • Chain driven
    • Solid rubber tyres
    • 5 speed  preselect gearboxes (Pg 23)
      • top speed 12 miles per hour (Pg 23)
    • Holden’s built the timber bodies (Pg 23)
      • sawdust for insulation (Pg 23)
    • Follard Hill on the Main North road at Enfield had too steep a gradient for the trucks so the top was shaved off to enable their use (Pg 23)
    • 17 trucks in the original fleet (Pg 35)
  • Mechanical work was conducted by Newton, McLaren and Co (Pg 20)
  • Electrical work was done by Unbehaun and Johnstone (Pg 20)
  • Refrigeration machinery was supplied by Wildridge and Sinclair (Pg 20)
  • Provision was made near the abattoir for the Government farm to grow hay and cereal crops (Pg 20)
  • Engine room, floored with tiles contained 2 sets of refrigeration machinery (Pg 38)
    • independent steam condenser
    • water circulating pump
    • 2 electrical lighting sets
  • Steam for the works was suplied by 2 tar-filled wood-fired burners (Pg 145)
    • later converted to burn coal (Pg 145)
      • Delivered to the site by 40t railway wagons (Pg 146)
  • Chilling rooms were lined with pumice stones for insulation (Pg 38)
  • By Products house was designed on the most modern lines
    • had tanks, digesters, tallow vats, hydraulic presses, blood cookers, a drying plant, bagging and screening plants, platform scales and bone-crushing plant (Pg 38)
  • Boiling down works was built on an acre site one mile from the abattoirs at the Grand Junction road intersection with churchill road (Pg 38)
    • Now occupied by the current Dry creek power station (Pg 38)
  • Engineers workshop (Pg 38)
  • Blacksmiths (Pg 38)
  • Carpenters shop (Pg 38)
  • Coopers shop (Pg 38)
  • Tool shop (Pg 38)
  • Paint shop (Pg 38)
  • Tackle rooms (Pg 38)
  • Dray shed and stables (Pg 38)
    • that also housed the 17 delivery trucks (Pg 38)
  • Brick garage contained repair shop, washing down area, and accommodation for drivers (Pg 38)
    • Behind the Garage were fuel bowsers and tanks (Pg 38)
  • Administrative building that fronted the Main North Road (Pg 38)
    • provided necessary offices for various managers and staff (Pg 38)
    • Included laboratories, a dining room and first aid room (Pg 38)
  • 47 workers cottages (Pg 38)
    • maisonettes and built in rows in English workingman’s tradition (Pg 38)
    • Initially no electricity (Pg 63)
    • Each had 3 bedroom, with a generous sized kitchen (Pg 63)
    • High ceilings to aid cooling (Pg 63)
    • Water was heated by a wood-fired copper (Pg 63)
    • Each house had a shed and outside toilet (Pg 63)
    • People would purchase ice for ice-chests from a special ice-making freezer on the abattoir site (Pg 64)
  • Cottages were also built for receiver of stock and night watchman (Pg 38)
  • Larger residences for superintendent, veterinary surgeon, chief inspector, first assistant inspector, mechanical and electrical engineer (Pg 38)
  • Sheep market yards (Pg 38)
    • Shed , acted as a covered walkway, 896 feet (271m) long (Pg 38)
    • 496,864 Melbourne bluestone pitchers were used to pave the market areas(Pg 38)
    • 3,152 gates (Pg 38)
    • 8,595 timber and concrete posts (Pg 38)
  • Calculated total length of all stock paddocks and yards 21.5 miles. (34.4km) (Pg 38)


  • February 21, Foundation stone was laid to commemorate the start of construction of the Gepps Cross abattoir and saleyard facilities (Pg 20)
  • Constuction for the abattoirs and sheep marketing area is underway (Pg 27)


  • Water supply was a problem requiring 3 new bores (Pg 17)
    • quality was suitable for watering stock and washing down but not for boilers and domestic purposes
    • A steel main water pipe was laid from the Barossa Valley to supply the site (Pg 17)
  • Meeting was held to advise of charges the new Metropolitan Abattoirs at Gepps Cross would charge when operational (Pg 21)
    • Master Butchers support change that will mean all meat slaughtered will be delivered to butchers at their shops by MAB supplied lorries (Pg 21)
      • Experimentation of the new lorry system was conducted at James Eddy’s butcher shop at Main North Road (Pg 23)
        • Meat rails were installed at the shop to hang and slide the carcases directly from the delivery truck to the shop (Pg 23)
        • All butchers were urged to install rails, If they didn’t they wouldn’t receive meat(Pg 23)
        • To avoid unnecessary handling of the meat a cable wire was installed for some operated by a windlass and drum but some butchers feared the strength of their walls couldn’t handle the stress of where the drum was anchored (Pg 24)
        • Hyde Patent bar was invented by Unley butcher Charles Hyde
          • steel bar mounted on the wall that could be extended into the truck and folded flat when not needed.(Pg 24)
            • Trials held of the Hyde bar in 1913.(Pg 24)
    • Butchers were concerned that if the meat wasn’t delivered to all, then gradually market domination would occur of only the larger butchers who could afford the transport (Pg 21)
    • Many butchers had opposed the abattoir as they felt it was stripping them of their rights to; (Pg 21)
      • slaughter animals (Pg 21) and
      • delivery of meat from the abattoirs to the shops (Pg 21)
        • Previously meat had been delivered by horse and cart (Pg 24)
    • Butchers felt that government simply did not have the skills to handle livestock and the saleyard/abattoir processes required (Pg 23)
    • Butchers felt the entire layout of the Gepps Cross facility and yards was impractical(Pg 23)
      • In their view, absurd laying of the site for various markets
      • inadequate provision of by-product
      • Government lack practical men with knowledge and skills to handle day to day challenges of abattoir operations
      • some of the ideas for Gepps Cross were untried and yet to be proven methods of process.
    • Some butchers felt that more than one abattoir should be built, it was not the Gepps Cross proposal they opposed it was the fact that processing would be so concentrated to one location(Pg 23)
      • butchers wanted more than one abattoir at differing sites built(Pg 23)
  • Butchers were critical of how fresh green skins would be handled(Pg 27)
    • Skin shed 600 yards from the abattoir (Pg 27)
    • fear that buyers would not trek to the green skins site to buy the product and the skins would rot (Pg 27)
    • Butchers felt that any money lost due to damage of skins was borne by them (Pg 27)
  • Metropolitan Abatttoirs area for delivery to butchers was divided into 18 districts
    • Each area had a colour (Pg 25)
    • Each butcher had an identification number (Pg 25)
      • coloured numbered discs were used to identify the carcase that would be delivered to each butcher (Pg 25)
    • An order was placed by the butcher prior to animal slaughter at the Adelaide Post Office by 2.15pm the day prior to requirement of the carcase (Pg 25)
      • orders were telephoned to Gepps Cross (Pg 26)
        • 5 copies of the order made (Pg 26)
          • drover
          • foreman of the killing halls
          • foreman of the chilling rooms
          • office
          • superintendent
    • Trucks loaded in the middle of the night for early departure (Pg 25)
      • Prior to refrigeration the wooden interiors were sprayed with water, then a solution of formalin to help keep the meat cold (Pg 25)
    • meat would be delivered with disks and gumbrels (Meat hooks) (Pg 25)
      • the butchers responsibility to return the hooks and discs with his following delivery (Pg 25)


  • First year of operation of the Gepps Cross Livestock markets
    • sell 826,186 animals
      • Major agents were:
        • Elder, Smith and Co
        • Goldsbrough Mort
        • Dalgety
        • Bennett & Fisher
    • Previous selling centres are closed (Pg 42)
      • Sheep saleyard North Parklands had been in operation since 1848 (Pg 42)
        • last sale held 09/07/1913 (Pg 42)
      • Cattle saleyard, Thebarton had been in operation since 1884 (Pg 41)
        • Last sale held 07/07/1913 (Pg 42)
  • Charles Hyde patent bar is tested for use – steel bar mounted on the walls of butchers shops and would extend into the trucks delivering meat to allow the carcase hooks to move from the truck to the shop with minimal handling (Pg 24)
    • the bar could be folded away when not in use (Pg 24)
  • Trial operations were conducted of the abattoir prior to formal opening to rectify any problems (Pg 27)
    • livestock were slaughtered (Pg 27)
  • Pig marketing area is undercover and near completion (Pg 27)
  • Areas east of the immediate meatworks were important hay crop production areas supplying numerous dairy farms and chaff works, Modbury, Ingle Farm and Gilles Plains, even Enfield (pg 33)
  • July 12. Official opening of the Gepps Cross meatworks occurs (pg 35)
  • Adelaide has a current population of 200,000 people (Pg 35)
  • Adelaide is the only Australian capital city where livestock slaughtering and processing was solely undertaken by a local government authority with offical health inspection gaurantee and scientific analysis (Pg 35)
  • As the Gepps Cross abattoir opens all city corporation slaughter houses and stock markets are closed (Pg 35)
    • 140 private slaugherhouses were located in the metropolitan area (Pg 35)
      • were known to be unhygienic and unsavoury (Pg 35)
        • 117 were in the Adelaide city area
        • 18 at Port Adelaide
        • 5 at Glenelg, Marion and Brighton districs
    • No butchers were allowed to kill privately(Pg 35)
  • Loophole allows some slaughthouses to remain open if they process pigs for bacon curing and not selling of fresh meat (Pg 191)
  • All meat supply now came under control of the Lord Mayor – MAB chairman (Pg 35)
  • Officals opening speech by Lord Mayor (later Sir) Walter Lavington “the public would look not only for efficent management, but due economy, so the price of meat would not be unduly raised to consumers”
  • July 14 Abattoirs commence killing livestock
    • workforce 220 men
      • had been conducting training prior to the abattoir opening (Pg 39)
      • Union rates 2s 3 1/2 d per head – yarding, dressing and everything else.
  • Some visitors praised the works others highly critical, felt the facility was a white elephant due to it’s cost (Pg 39)
  • First cattle market sale was held 14/07/1913 (Pg 46)
    • First bullock was sold for £50, with money donated to the Children’s Hospital (Pg 45)
    • First yarding was 1,289 head(Pg 46)
  • Works offices for Gepps Cross located in Eagle Chambers, adjacent to the Adelaide town hall (Pg 60)
    • Offices were moved to Gepps Cross in 1948 (Pg 60)
  • Auctioneers complained the new selling ring was too large (Pg 46)
    • high roof was difficult to project their voices if it was raining (Pg 46)
    • Sidney Kidman criticised the cattle yard design saying they were unsatisfactory and cost too much to build (Pg 46)
      • Angered Kidman that the MAB had not seek advice from stock agents on design and was critical of the bull ring being altered during its construction (Pg 46)
      • Bull ring was 5 times too large (Pg 46)
        • nearly all gates swung the wrong way (Pg 46)
        • More difficult to work 1,000 head in the present yards compared to the old yards (Pg 46)
      • Pig selling pens were too far from the railway offloading (Pg 48)
        • fat pigs are very difficult to move around (Pg 48)
      • Costs of yard fees were very high (Pg 48)
        • Gepps Cross charging 3 times more than Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane (Pg 48)
        • Kidman threatened to have all his cattle stock sent to QLD (Pg 48)
          • Killing fees in QLD 5-6s (Pg 48)
          • rail costs would be reduced 25% (Pg 48)
          • price of cattle increases £2-3 a head to consumer and butcher if selling at Gepps Cross (Pg 48)
        • Kidman sent the bulk of his cattle to Adelaide but without improvements to the yards it was easier and cheaper to send them to QLD (Pg 48)
  • One leading butcher says willing would have paid £1,000 per year to not be part of the Gepps Cross MAB and slaughter his own stock (Pg 49)
    • fear was that the small butchers would be driven out of business due to charges (Pg 49)
    • scandal at the time surrounded the topic (Pg 49)
    • MAB admitted to consultation with stock agents for the sheep yards and on inspection of the yard plans made alterations (Pg 49)
      • original plans had no means to move stock from the ramps to other parts of the market areas (Pg 49)
      • lack of medium yards at the drafting races (Pg 49)
      • MAB had never sighted plans for pig or cattle markets before construction (Pg 49)
    • Royal Commission was announced to inquire into the Metropolitan abattoirs. (Pg 49)
  • First hide and skin sale was held 15/07/1913 (Pg 46)
  • First sheep sale was held 16/07/1913 (Pg 46)
    • 13,805 sheep plus 2,225 lambs (Pg 46)
    • No stock were to be accepted if marked with tar, only paint or raddle (chalk) was acceptable (Pg 46)
  • Calves and pigs were sold the same day as sheep (Pg 46)
    • 230 calves (Pg 46)
    • 450 pigs (Pg 46)
      • pig sales continued to be sold the same day as sheep the entire lifetime of the Gepps Cross yards (Pg 46)
  • Workers were paid on a tally system (Pg 93)
    • Earliest tallies were fixed at 25 cattle a day
  • Union strength is very strong in Australia at the time with the influences of American teamsters coming to Australia to organise better conditions for workers in the meat industry (Pg 94)
    • Known as International Workers of the World
    • Assisted Australian workers to set up ‘boards of control’ and ‘shop committees’
      • provided vehicle of radical action, perfecting job strategies such as sabotage and go-slow tactics
    • Abattoirs became well organised, militantly, with agreements with employers for union offices to be sole suppliers of labour
    • Permit system existed that required members to have union authoristion to work
    • Shop committee’s not only supervised the selection of labour they also played a significant role in day to day operations of the plant
  • November 20. Royal Commission begins to take evidence and report on the management, working and control of the abattoir (Pg 50)
    • Considered high prices of livestock and slaughtering costs charged (Pg 50)
      • effect of flow on prices to retailers (Pg 50)
      • investigated sale of meat outside the systems designated territory (Pg 50)
      • bad handling of stock (Pg 50)
      • closure of butcher shops after the opening of the abattoir (Pg 50)
    • Rise in livestock prices could have been attributed to current drought (Pg 50)
      • caused 50% increase in stock values (Pg 50)
      • Butchers blamed increase in costs on Gepps Cross facility when in fact was market value of livestock (Pg 50)
      • Inevitable some values would increase as butchers no longer slaughtered their own stock and carcases were being processed under more hygienic conditions, including meat was transported to them (Pg 50)


  • A school known as Abattoirs school is established for employee’s children to attend of Gepps Cross (Pg 31)
    • Later changed its name to Pooraka School in 1940 (Pg 31)
  • New Royal Commission looks at the operations of any person, combination or trust tending to create any restraint on trade or monopoly in connection with the export of meat from Australia (Pg 51)
  • Introduction of US based meat firms were coming into the Australian market (Pg 50)
  • US had removed import duties on meat which resulted in the US purchasing larger volumes of Australian product (Pg 51)
  • Foreign companies were (Pg 51)
    • Swift Beef Company – registered in QLD
    • Morris Beef Company of London (Pg 51)
      • Purchased a site at the Brisbane river with a view to establish a meatworks in partnership with Borthwicks and Angliss (Pg 51)
    • Chicago meat packers firm – Armour & Co (Pg 51)
      • this company had purchased 5,000 head of cattle from Sydney Kidman to be processed at Adelaide and exported by the Government produce department of South Australia (Pg 51)
  • Royal Commission ruled it was improbable the the 3 foreign companies had intention of engaging in local trade in Australia, their immediate objective to purchase Australian produce in increase supplies in their own refrigerated holdings within the US & Britain (Pg 51)
    • ruled there was no evidence in the shape of any concerted action (Pg 51)


  • 47 workers cottages that were installed in 1913 were connected to power (Pg 63)
  • Police Constable was stationed at Gepps Cross (Pg 64)


  • November 26. Wage rise was applied for by ‘motormen’ employed by MAB, increase was refused (Pg 95)
    • Entire workforce went on strike for 3 weeks.


  • 17 tonne compressor that supplied refrigeration with a fly wheel diametre of 6m is installed (Pg 142)
    • Flywheel alone weighed 15t
    • Used up until 1984


  • Gepps Cross manager went on an overseas trip to investigate worldwide technological advances in meat processing and handling
    • visited New Zealand, United States and Europe
    • In the US he visits Chicago stockyards and the Swift meatworks
      • Seen the use of the string gang system (Pg 56)
      • While efficent the Gepps Cross abattoir wasn’t suited to process due to the need to keep 200 butchers supplies seperate (Pg 56)
  • Outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Europe makes local pig producers consider advantages to increased production techniques (Pg 192)
    • SA pig producers are able to take advantage of Britain’s imposed embargo of imports of fresh pork from all countries in continental Europe


  • Butchers from Port Adelaide petition the Adelaide city council to  amend the Metropolitan Abattoir Act to allow them to have their stock killed at Port Adelaide slaughterhouse (Pg 57)
    • Was not allowed as the Port Adelaide facility only treated stock for export (Pg 57)
    • Was deemed unfair to take business away from Gepps Cross and the Port Adelaide facility didn’t have a delivery system (Pg 57)


  • Pig market numbers at Gepps Cross 60,000 head (Pg 192)
  • Transport Control Board (TCB) introduce legislation to restrict freight of livestock by road (Pg 223)
    • Livestock road carriers could be fined for transporting livestock along corridors on which government owned railway could be used
    • Government feared the railways would loose too much money, making the massive rail infrastructure non-viable.
    • Restriction remained in place for the next 38 years
    • Charges and taxes too road transporters were increased to cover railway losses
    • Railway use charges increased
      • Remote locations such as Alice Springs complained during drought it was cheaper to walk the animals to Adelaide
  • Transport of livestock by road was becoming more common (Pg 223)
    • Crates were crude and caused significant bruising to animals
      • Many instances of livestock were being reported with increased truck use
    • Stock losses increased due to ease of moving animals quickly and without drawing attention
  • Stock Waybills Act came into effect requiring carriers to carry a manifest listing the owner, number of stock transported, destination and consignee.


  • The Great Depression has begun to be felt through the entire community and severely disrupts the fledgling export markets (Pg 76)
  • The Depression affects the entire meat industry.(Pg 76)
    • Freezing works supported by the government cut the wages rates and men go on strike (Pg 76)
      • meatworks became idle (Pg 76)
    • Many butchers forced to live between seasons on the government handouts (Pg 77)
  • Severe Wharf strike at Port Adelaide with police stationed day and night at the wharf gates (Pg 76)
    • No export lambs could be loaded onto ships at this time
    • Considerable conflict existed between slaughtermem, employees and others (Pg 77)
  • Meat Industry award wages structures had been according to individual states before this time. In 1932 retail butchers, small goods factories moved from state award to federal award with the entire meat industry. (Pg 95)


  • State Inquiry into the transportation, slaughter, distribution and shipment of livestock in South Australia (Pg 57)
    • Committee recommended that control of all slaughtering and freezing of livestock for export and local consumption be vested to a new board – Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Board ( MEAB) (Pg 57)
      • MEAB was to take over powers of
        • Gepps Cross and Port Adelaide (Pg 57)
        • Glenelg and Marion Abattoirs (Pg 57)
          •  who had not been under the MAB previously and had been established due to an alliance formed between some butchers in those areas.(Pg 57)
          • Glenelg abattoir was located on what is now the Glenelg golf course (Pg 60)
          • Glenelg and Marion facilities demolished 1939 (Pg 60)
  • December 7. MEAB was passed and assented in parliament (Pg 57)
    • All livestock for both local and export were now to be treated at Gepps Cross (Pg 57)


  • April 12. MEAB commence operations (Pg 57)
  • November. Contract to reconstruct the Gepps Cross slaughtering units, provision of freezers and coldstores was created (Pg 57)
    • New chain slaughtering system would be installed (Pg 59)
      • previous operations meant slaughtermen treated an entire animal singularly (Pg 59)
      • Moving chain was a dissassembly line where men performed specific repetitive tasks (Pg 59)
      • Necessary additions were completed by 1937 (Pg 59)
  • At this time the Port Adelaide facilities at its zenith(Pg 57)
    • Separate beef and calf slaughter-houses (Pg 57)
    • mutton and lamb boards (Pg 57)
    • Pig hall located on the bottom floor (Pg 57)
  • Pig market numbers at Gepps Cross 104,000 head (Pg 192)
  • Due to advent of motorised transport unloading ramps are built at the Gepps Cross Sheep market (Pg 202)


  • Port Adelaide meatworks closes (Pg 59)
    • Demolished 1939 (Pg 60)


  • Gepps Cross abattoir new chain system is installed (Pg 59)
  • Men who had been employed at Port Adelaide were transferred to Gepps Cross (Pg 59)
  • All workers undertook training at the William Angliss works in Melbourne (Pg 59)
    • Once acquainted with the system 200 slaughtermen operated 4 chains (Pg 60)
      • Processed 14,000 to 16,000 lambs a day (Pg 60)
  • Railway spur line was built to unload export sheep and lambs within the Gepps Cross abattoir (Pg 59)
    • Included unloading ramps and construction of covered yards capable of holding 8,000 head (Pg 59)
  • MEAB meat delivery trucks are replaced by AEC Metador trucks (Pg 142)
    • originals had been wooden bodied Commer trucks
    • 34 trucks serviced 872 butchers daily
    • Average days delivery 200t of meat
    • Truck bodies were metal and had no refrigeration
  • All pig export slaughtering is transferred from Port Adelaide to Gepps Cross (Pg 192)
    • Gepps Cross pig slaughter hall and yards are expanded
    • Yards can accomodate pig sales 4,000 head per week
  • Transport Control Board introduce further measures to restrict road transport of livestock within a 50 mile radius of the Gepps Cross abattoir (Pg 224)
    • Protected the railways from undue and unfair competition
    • Congestion, inconvenience and frustration were compounded by inefficient and too few loading ramps and holding yards.


  • Total livestock now yarded and sold at Gepps Cross is 71% higher than in 1918 (Pg 5)
  • Port Adelaide works was demolished  (Pg 60)
  • Glenelg and Marion abattoirs were also demolished at the same time (Pg 60)
  • September 1. World War I is declared (Pg 79)
  • As part of the war effort (Pg 79)
    • householders were forced to billet troops in their homes (Pg 79)
      • included providing them with food at the household expense (Pg 79)
      • created a heavy retail demand for meat (Pg 79
  • Beef prices were high due to transport shortages due to restriction of number of railway livestock vans allocated to transport stock to market (Pg 79)
  • Pigs slaughtered 2,882 head
  • Highest number of train miles is recorded by the South Australian Railways (Pg 225)
    • net loss of £2,723,493
    • massive infrastructure had to be maintained in a workable condition at any cost for operation
    • Huge increase in road use had significantly increased revenues collected but was not enough to compensate for rail losses.


  • Abattoir school changes its name to Pooraka School (Pg 31)
  • Early days of WW II are in effect (Pg 77)
  • Gepps Cross pig slaughter hall is extended (Pg 76)
  • Australian Meat Board request that new freezers be constructed to to hold 6 weeks of killing supplies instead of the usual 3 (Pg 77)
  • Proposal is put forward to decentralise Gepps Cross and establish smaller works at Kadina and Wallaroo  to cope with the lamb season periods (Pg 77)
    • Would have allowed free up rail and road transport to better serve the war effort (Pg 77)
    • was a considerable lack of labour at the time (Pg 77)
    • idea never eventuated (Pg 77)
  • Pigs slaughtered 47,209 head
  • Ravages of war and petrol rationing caused setback to development of road transport (Pg 225)


  • Gepps Cross erect and equip a cannery for treating mutton (Pg 77)
    • To be fully operational would require 10,000 to 12,000 sheep a month (Pg 77)
    • Price charged for slaughter was 5 pence per pound of canned weight of meat (Pg 77)
    • plant employed cheaper junior labour (Pg 77)
    • Abattoirs didn’t market the meat, producer had to do that and supply their own labels for the cans (Pg 77)


  • Livestock wardens were appointed under the Civil Defence Force.(Pg 77)
    • Authorities could take charge of all livestock and move them if required for safety in the event of an air raid or state of emergency (Pg 77)
    • if an air raid occured the wardens were to record number of deaths and kill injured stock (Pg 77)
  • South Australian Railways take control of of all allocations of railway vans for the movement of lambs to market (Pg 81)
    • At the time movement of stock, particularly in peak periods of lambing were disrupted due to military priorities and producers weren’t guaranteed stock trains would arrive in time for markets (Pg 81)
    • To assist with effective movement of stock 2 sales per week of lambs per week during the peak season will be held (Pg 82)
    • Producers in designated areas could only send their lambs to market during at certain times (Pg 226)
    • Stock unloaded in black out conditions at night (Pg 226)
    • Northern Livestock producers were significantly disadvantaged as the lines importance north was for preference for military use. (Pg 226)
      • Producers advocated for double decker cattle wagons but it wasn’t allowed
  • Losses and theft during the war years is a problem (Pg 81)
    • Railway yardmaster carried a .45 calibre pistol to destroy injured stock (Pg 226)
    • Pigs left standing in sidings for too long  often died in large numbers due to heat (Pg 226)
  • Gas producers had been fitted to many vehicles to conserve fuel, but Control boards had banned use of some vehicles to conserve tyre rubber (Pg 81)
  • March 25. Meat is gazetted a ‘declared commodity’ in the metropolitan area of Adelaide (Pg 79)
    • Retail and wholesale selling prices of meat are fixed as at the week prior – 18/03/1942 (Pg 79)
    • retail butcher was not allowed to earn a bigger profit markgn that what he earned 30/08/1939
      • It was an offence to sell meat at prices exceeding those charged on that date
      • Beef per pound 5 1/2 pence
      • Mutton per pound 4 3/4 pence
      • Lamb per pound 8 pence
      • Veal per pound 7 pence
  • Metropolitan fixing of meat prices didn’t affect country buyers or those from Melbourne (Pg 80)


  • January 1. Meat rationing commences (Pg 84)
    • Meat held in Freezers wasn’t released back into the metropolitian market for fear of market collapse of prices to producers (Pg 84)
    • Meat rationed to adult is now 2.5 pounds per week
    • Children under 9 were allowed only 1.25 pounds
    • Meat rationing was a complicated process with 6 classes of meat
    • People were issued coupons to surrender to a butcher
      • Sausages, edible offals, canned meats and pigs’ feat were not affected by the restriction and were encouraged to be used (Pg 84)
  • Mutton style sleeves on woman’s dress clothing was also banned to preserve fabric (Pg 84)
  • During war period workers are required to train emergency drills which included wearing gas marks and protective clothing while processing carcases (Pg 76)
  • Prices rise at Gepps Cross markets for prime stock (Pg 77)
    • Area is currently affected by drought (Pg 77)
  • War period  seen government consider implementation of meat control prices at retail level (Pg 78)
    • Curtin Federal Government ‘War strategy’ meant certain foods would be rationed (Pg 84)
      • Civilian consumption of meat was to reduced by 15% (pg 83)
    • Many believed rationing of meat would be preferrable (Pg 78)
      • rationing would save transport
      • preserve meat supplies
      • reduce corruption and
      • keep inflation in check
  • February 1. Sale of third quality pig meat is restricted (Pg 80)
    • Sale of fresh pork is already prohibited (Pg 80)
  • To stabilise the industry the Australian Meat Industry Commission took responsibility for all surplus pig meat (Pg 80)
    • Producers could continue to sell pigs at auction but prices were fixed (Pg 80)
  • July 28. Commissioner of meat supplies passes a motion that compulsorily acquires one forequarter of each body of beef processed at Gepps Cross that weighs more 400 pounds or more (Pg 81)
    • Compulsorily acquired meat is to be used for canning to supply Britain
    • After several months bull beef is included in the restrictions
    • Veal weighing 251 pounds and over is now classed as beef
    • Producers are urged to market stock in a normal way to allow stock to be available for the services and canning
  • September 15. Further food restrictions and rationing came into effect (Pg 84)
    • Wholesalers and retail butchers were to provide, under statutory declaration amounts of sales for the previous 4 weeks prior to 01/06/1943 (Pg 84)
      • % reduction was based on those figures (Pg 84)
      • onus placed on the butcher to achieve objective of reduced meat use (Pg 84)
      • quotas were based on the Throughput at Gepps Cross and changed weekly (Pg 86)
      • 75% of meat by the butchers to be taken as fresh and 25% frozen (Pg 86)
      • South Australia seemed to be singled out as similar practices were not enforced in any other state (Pg 86)
        • Destroyed confidence in South Australian markets.(Pg 86)
          • Sense of normality to SA markets would not return until the 1950’s (Pg 86)
  • Bacon factories were working at full capacity to process canned goods for the fighting forces and Britain had acute food shortages (Pg 84)
  • To meet supply of the military civilian beef consumption was cut 40% (Pg84)
    • To counter harsh reduction in beef allowed a 12.5% increase in lamb
  • October 11. Fixed number of sheep and lambs allowed for sale at Gepps Cross is 23,000 head (pg 83)
    • All stock to only arrive by rail
    • No private deliveries were allowed or would be unloaded
    • Stock above the number would not be accepted for sale
  • November. Restrictions are placed on delivery of stock from some areas to limit supply as the facilities couldn’t process the animals due to a severe manpower shortage and lack of skilled slaughtermen (Pg 81)
    • many workers had enlisted or joined others to work in munitions factories at Salisbury and Finsbury
  • Only 60 men were operating a chain with a capacity of 71 men (Pg 83)
  • Less stock was being processed and 20,000 sheep had to be railed to Victoria for slaughter (Pg 81)


  • Livestock numbers yarded and sold double the 1913 figures (Pg 5)
  • May 16. Workers strike is called concerning the reinstatement of a watchman sentenced to gaol for use of an office at the abattoir for unlawful gaming (Pg 96)
    • AMIEU wanted watchman re-employed and MAB refused
    • All workers went on strike immediately even refusing to process poddy calves
      • RSPCA approached striking workers to honour undertaking in regards to suffering of the calves, workers refused to co-operate (Pg 96)
  • December 13. compulsory acquisition was extended to all South Australian country meatworks (pg 81)
  • Experiments are conducted in America to produce artificial meat from molasses, ammonia, water, air and yeast (Pg 81)
    • Meat was to be fed to the troops


  • February 26. Australia is experiencing a severe drought and rationing of meat is further reduced (Pg 85)
    • rationing reduced by 8.75%
  • May 7 further rationing cuts of 12% (Pg 85)
  • Country Butchers, previously unrestricted by quotas are also regulated (Pg 86)
  • Restrictions of meat remained in place following the war with limits not removed until 24/06/1948 (Pg 85)
  • May 9. VE (Victory in Europe) Day (Pg 85)
    • War still continues against Japan in the Pacific
  • Price fixing is put in place by the Government to place a ceiling on extremely high stock values at the time due to war and drought (Pg 85)
    • Placement of a ceiling price caused considerable debate
  • Germany’s invasion of Denmark has destroyed Denmark’s pig industry. (Pg 192)
    • Britain’s key supplier of pig imports now becomes Australia
    • Britain didn’t favor America’s over-fat pigs
  • Stockowners’ Association lobby TBC to relax restrictions of transport of lambs by road (Pg 228)


  • October 1. Fixed floor pricing comes in to effect (Pg 86)
    • Stock at Gepps cross are already commandeered (Pg 86)
    • A great deal  of uncertainty surrounded the Gepps Cross markets (Pg 86)
  • By products plant is proposed for construction at the works (Pg 138)
    • Delay in construction occurred due to serious material and labour shortages


  • By Products plant construction is begun (Pg 138)
    • Not completed until 1951
      • Wet rendering system that used moisture as pressurised steam to process the materials during the cooking process
    • Replaced in 1974 when modern ‘continuous -render system is installed
      • Dry rendering system where product is cooked in its own fats in an agitator


  • Works offices are relocated from in the city centre to Gepps Cross (Pg 60)
  • The United States of America reduce import duties on beef and veal by 50% (Pg 151)
    • Export licences of meat were not required at the time to the USA (Pg 151)
    • USA became and attractive export market due to Australia’s advantage of being disease free from diseases found in other countries (Pg 151)
  • MEAB were keen to supply USA with boneless beef (Pg 151)
    • Gepps Cross worked double shifts daily and at weekends to meet demand
    • Gepps Cross facility wasn’t able to cope and had little experience in freezing meat and the handling of frozen packed cartons (Pg 151)
    • One of the first consignments of meat to USA was rejected due to thawing and misshapen bloody boxes (Pg 151)
      • Entire consignment was rumoured to have been dumped into the ocean (Pg 151)
  • USA from this point required a licence of Australian export facilities who wished to export meat (Pg 152)
    • USA rules were so stringent led to improvements in all facets of inspection, safety and hygiene practices in Australian facilities.
  • Australian Meat Board experiment with expanding the road transport industry to carry cattle over longer distances (Pg 229)
    • 3 Trial loads carry a total of 239 head 500 miles from Anthony’s Lagoon to Alice.
      • The livestock were loaded on trains in Alice to Gepps Cross
      • Meat condition after slaughter was assessed to determine journey’s effect
  • June 24. Meat restrictions are lifted entirely (Pg 85)


  • Gepps Cross was a ‘closed shop’. The AMIEU supplied labour for the abattoirs and management was obliged to source additional labour using AMIEU (Pg 107)
    • AMIEU was male dominated with a small number of women registered on it’s books employed making smallgoods and labour tasks in sausage casing factories (Pg 107)
  • Gepps Cross is processing 90% of all of SA’s livestock (Pg 245)


  • After WWII there was a severe manpower shortage (Pg 96)
    • MEAB used overseas labour in the form of new immigrants or displaced persons from war-torn Europe.
  • November 14. AMIEU disapproved of use of foreign labour and called a strike.
    • Was the middle of lambing season
    • Abattoirs dismissed 540 employees
    • Workers went back to work 3 weeks later with same conditions at time of dismissal
  • Industrial disputes frequently occurred at Gepps Cross (Pg 96)
    • Northern cattle people had to muster and send stock sometimes long periods before slaughter and delays in slaughter caused stock to loose condition while awaiting processing
  • Between period 1950 – 1955 there were 42 industrial disputes at Gepps Cross works (Pg 96)


  • March 29. South Australian government take court action to prevent a private company slaughtering stock intended for export  claiming “such killings are prohibited by the Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Act” (Pg 87)
    •  Noarlunga abattoir (SA) operated by  Noarlunga Meat Ltd had slaughtered 150 lambs to export to Britain (Pg 86)
    • Noarlunga Meat were charged, argued that the Act was in conflict with Commonwealth law and therefore invalid
      • Supreme court gave an opinion on point of law in 1955
      • MEAB were more concerned about lose of future export business


  • August. MEAB v’s Noarlunga Meat – Supreme court hearing, text case (Pg 87)
  • August to September a major industrial dispute last 8 weeks, occurs during the court hearing of the test case (Pg 87)
    • During the dispute Noarlunga helped to supply Adelaide with Fresh meat
  • MEAB advertised for labour directly in newspapers rather than use the union (Pg 96)
    • AMIEU imposed a embargo on the use of extra labour during the lamb-killing season
    • 5 applicants had applied and received work
    • Men walked off the job leaving carcasses partly or wholly dressed
      • Caused serious losses to the facility
    • After several days the stoppage caused a shortage of meat in Adelaide
    • Volunteer master butchers went to Gepps Cross to slaughter stock
    • Carcasses were brought in from outside of the Abattoirs Board area
    • Noarlunga Abattoir (SA) double it’s shifts and treble output to cope with Adelaide metropolitan area demands
    • Strike caused a rift between butcher shop employees and AMIEU.
  • Producers were desperate to sell stock but unable to so they advertised in the local newspaper an alteration to normal cattle sales (Pg 98)
    • Cattle sales would now take place in the pens and not the auction ring as conducted previously (Pg 98)
    • During the July / August strike only 1,200 lambs had been slaughtered, compared to 84,635 the same period the previous year (Pg 98)
  • Meat became so scarce in Adelaide that a group of butchers banded together to slaughter 60 sheep in an old implement shed at Port Adelaide and deliver the un-inspected meat to their shops (Pg 98)
    • The stock were slaughtered and hung overnight
    • Rafters couldn’t bear the weight of the meat and had collapsed by the next morning
    • Meat was still sold in the shops
  • After 4 weeks MEAB advertised for workers again
    • the stoppage was seriously affecting union workers
  • After 6 weeks consideration was given to charge the striking workers (Pg 99)
  • Workers returned to work after 44 days (Pg 99)
  • Frequent industrial disputes highlighted the vulnerability of the Gepps Cross works to supply fresh meat during a crisis (Pg 86)
    • Re-organisation of the Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Act was called for
    • Country meatworks were to be able to freely supply Adelaide with fresh meat
    • Premier, Mr Playford was prepared to support as long at the abattoirs were no closer than 80 miles to each other for economic reasons (Pg 87)
  • December 17. High court rule that a section of the MEAA is inoperative and invalid because it is inconsistent with the Commonwealth Commerce Act (Meat Export) (Pg 88).1
    • Means South Australian Act no longer has sole authority for slaughtering for export
    • 02/03/1956 High court in Melbourne ruled that South Australia could not challenge the validiy of the commonwealth regulations
    • 04/07/1956 Privy court in London ruled South Australia’s claim was invalid


  • New boiler is erected (pg 146)
    • Later converted to use fuel oil and natural gas
    • Steam plant was replaced by electric motors generated by diesel driven generators.
  • March 2.High court in Melbourne ruled that South Australia could not challenge the validiy of the commonwealth regulations in regards to being sole authority of meat export in that state (Pg 88).1
  • July 4. Privy court in London ruled South Australia’s claim was invalid to be sole authority of slaughter of stock for meat export in that state (Pg 88).1
  • Noarlunga immediately sought and began to build substantial export market to the United sates of vacuum- frozen lamb cuts (Pg 88).1
    • began expansion of it’s works to cope with increased throughput (Pg 88).1
  • Noarlunga Meat’s victory in the courts effectively spelt the end of the monopoly held by Gepps Cross works and saw a number of other abattoirs begin operation with a view to export meat (Pg 89).1


  • October. Largest sheep market is held. (Pg 200)
    • 02/10/1957 37,604 sheep and 43,400 lambs
    • large supply of spring lambs due to dry conditions saw yarding’s exceed 80,000 head for many weeks


  • March. Smallest sheep market was helf of 84 head (Pg 201)
    • Live sheep export dispute caused all livestock sales to be cancelled indefinitely


  • Managing director of Noarlunga Meat Ltd, Reg Hinton, formed the Derwent Meat Company Pty Ltd, a wholesale meat company in Tasmania (Pg 88).1
    • Reg Hinton had moved away from South Australia because of the the control of the SA government exerted on the meat trade by means of the Abattoir Act.
  • Over supply of sheep and lambs enable Gepps Cross to slaughter 102,374 animals in one week (Pg 117)
    • Claimed as a world record
  • USA import licence requirements for import of meat led to significant deficit of income production £125,740 (Pg 152)
    • Previous year had seen a profit of £59,498 (Pg 152)
    • Significant improvements had been made in lairage pens being numbered and lighting improved
    • Edible and inedible material sections were to be seperated by walls, stainless steel surfaces had to installed
    • Increased inspection points and sterilisation areas were established
    • Temperature in the boning room area had to be maintained below 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • New saleyards are built at Gepps cross to sell cattle suspected of have the disease pleuro pneumonia (Pg 173)
    • Pleuro was a serious infectious disease of livestock introduced in 1858.
      • In the first 15 years of the disease spreading it killed 1.25M head of cattle
      • Meat from infected cattle was not dangerous to human consumption
      • Cost £79,000 to build, Joint enterprise between NT Administration and the Commonwealth
      • Later the yards became known as the Southern yards.
    • 5 years planning had led to the yards being built.
    • Aim of the yards was to allow unrestricted markets for cattle from a wide area of the NT and SA North West pastoral areas.


  • Incident occurs at the boiling works due to a mal-function of a shut off value causin 3 tonnes of rams’ heads, dead sheep and bullocks to cook for too long and at too high a pressure (Pg 140)
    • Vat exploded and blew the roof off spewing the contents 20m into the air and all over the yards
    • Operators describe at the time rams’s head raining down like mallee roots
  • During this period the Gepps Cross facility had a wrokforce of 2,000 people (Pg 144)
  • Laundry department employed 11 workers
    • 2 machines of 200 pounds capacity and a single machine of 50 pounds worked continuously
      • Washed 20,000 pounds of clothing weekly
    • Laundry workers pressed, folded and put the clothing in required boxes
  • Bovine Pleuro-pneumonia eradication campaign is begun and eliminates the disease in 6 years (Pg 207)


  • Selling method moves from ‘open selling’ in the Bull pen to ‘pen selling’ (Pg 176)
    • Where previously buyers were seated and cattle paraded in the ring at sale now buyers walked from auction pen to pen
    • Ring selling system required 22 men and average selling rate of 230 head per hour
    • Pen selling required 6 men and 400 head were sold per hour.
    • Animal welfare improved with the animals moved through less yards to be sold.
  • Kangaroo Island supplies a large number of sheep sold to Gepps Cross through this period (Pg 231)
    • Sheep are loaded at Kingscote and sailed by coastal freighters to Port Adelaide then walked to Gepps Cross


  • February. Legislative changes to the award structure were extended and an interim federal award for all meatworkers was introduced (Pg 99)
    • AMIEU strongly opposed
    • Arbitration court was granted powers to fine unions and fine or jail union officals under the Court of Pains and Penalties


  • Humane Killing Act is introduced into Australia (Pg 127)
  • L- shaped pneumatic stunner is introduced to the Beef Hall (Pg 126)
    • Powered by Air pressure
    • Completely immobilises the animal but doesn’t kill it
  • Captive bolt stunner uses a bolt with a circular end (Pg126)
    • fired into the animals head using a blank cartridge of compressed air
      • Destroys the animals brain.
  • By products facility is added to Gepps Cross generating an additional £551,000 through export and income (Pg 133)


  • May. Meat inspection service was transferred from state to Commonwealth control to comply with export standards requirements of overseas requirements (Pg 154)


  • String gang (Initial basic process of Canpak) method of slaughter is introduced to Gepps Cross for the Beef Hall (Pg 125)
    • labour required to process cattle using this system could be cut by 50%
  • Canpak method of slaughter for the Beef Hall is introduced (Pg 125)
    • ‘dressing on the rail’ at this time was semi-automated with most tasks preformed by the slaughtermen except the hide stripping was preformed mechanically (Pg 125)
    • Fully automated ‘dis-assembly’ line wasn’t used at Gepps Cross until SAMCOR built an entirely new integrated Southern works in the mid 1970’s
  • New marketing opportunity for pigs is introduced (Pg 193)
    • Carcass-basis auction system.
      • Producers could consign stock to slaughter at Gepps Cross and then the carcass would be put up for auction


  • February 14. Decimal currency is introduced of dollars and cents, previous sales were of pounds and shillings (Pg 177)


  • Gepps Cross facility diversifies and processes tuna (Pg 60)
    • Refrigerated tanks, areas for gilling, gutting and washing facilities were installed (Pg 60)
    • Fish delivered came from  Port Lincoln (Pg 60)
    • Processed 2,000 tonnes of fish a year (Pg 60)
    • Initially supplied interestate canneries (Pg 60)
      • soon after establishment exported to Japan and the US (Pg 60)
  • For many years at this point Gepps Cross cold stores were the largest in the country
    • Occassionally used to store other products (Pg 60)
      • seed potatoes, egg pulp, polyester resin, apples, dried fruit and cheeses (Pg 60)
      • One year over ripe apricots fermented and had to be cleaned up using emergency equipment (Pg 60)
    • Cold stores were used exclusively for meat from the 1970’s (Pg 60)


  • Transport Control Board lifts restriction of livestock transport along road corridors that otherwise could have been carried by government owned railways. (Pg 223)
    • Control had been introduced 1930


  • Unions Australia wide opposition to the Menzies Government Court of Pains and Penalties led to widespread national strike actions (Pg 99)
  • One entire cattle train of 120 vans is booked by a single owner to send 1,000 cattle to be sold.(Pg 183)


  • Last of the workers cottages are demolished (Pg 64)
  • Gepps Cross Works are at their peak during this period (Pg 115)
    • Wages are high
    • Number of animals being processed are high
    • General prosperity in the community
  • Chain setting is an important slaughter process operation conducted in the beef, mutton and pig killing halls (Pg 115)
    • Slaughtermen would take their position on the chain according to the prior days organisation by the chain-setter (Pg 115)
      • The number of chains required to operate would be determined
      • Manpower required would be calculated
      • Men’s work tasks were organised depending on their seniority, ability and fitness
    • Prior to work beginning the slaughter and processing area was made hygienically acceptable and ready for the days work (Pg 115)
      • Entire floor area was washed
      • garbage bags and carcass legging paper supplies were topped up
      • Soap containers and absorbent paper towel dispensers were filled.
      • Knife and meat hook sterilisers heated
      • Branding ink and pads checked
      • Clean waterproof aprons and leggings for each slaughterman were made available
        • Each worker started each day in fresh laundered white clothes including berets
    • Penning teams started 15 minutes prior to slaughtermen (Pg 115)
    • Process of operation in the Mutton Hall was as follows (Pg 118)
      • Scruffer – would force sheep into a sitting position then pass it to the sticker
      • Sticker  – would cut the sheep’s throat ensuring severance of main artery and windpipe. Then he broke the sheep’s neck.
      • Shackler – would shackle the offside hind leg and hitch it to eh the running bar of the start of the chain.
      • Feeder – ensures correct spacing of the sheep and lambs
      • Slaughtermen stood on moving platforms keeping pace with the chain
      • Sheepskin was cut from nearest hind leg from hock to tail
      • Change-over man – hoisted the skinned leg onto a hook, released the other leg for skinning
      • Leggers – would skin the animals around the hind legs only
      • Spear-cut crew – opened the sheep’s neck
      • brisket-pushers knifed the skin from the brisket
      • Knicklers & Splitters  – severed foreleg knuckles and removed them
        • They also sliced the carcass open without piercing the stomach
        • Kidneys removed
        • rectum knifed and freed and removed with the bladder
          • entire gut was placed in a tray for inspection and offal retrieval
      • Backer-off – removed the skin from the sheep’s back
      • Scalper – cut the ears and down the nostril to remove the skin to the skin chute
        • Head is removed, brain and tongue extracted
      • Hang-off team – carcass was inspected, branded and washed with water before being weighed
        • carcass weight was recorded on a ticket attached to the hock written in pencil
        • Carcass then taken to the chillers
      • Inspectors and Graders – would determine if the carcass was suitable for export (121)
        • Even though not suitable for export many could be still sold locally
      • Carcass was taken to a drying floor and bagged into white stockinette bags made of elasticised gauze (Pg 121)
        • Different grades had different colours allocated
          • Blue Insignia indicated first grade carcasses
    • Process of operation in the Pig Hall was as follows (Pg 122)
    • Pig slaughter hall was originally located West of the Beef hall at the old Northern works (Pg 122)
      • Animals were stunned prior to slaughter
      • Similar set up of chain procedures occurred as per the Sheep Hall
      • Hot-water bath – Scalding cabinet was heated to 50 degrees Celsius to assist in hair removal
      • spacing was important for various sizes of pigs to allow larger (Penalties) more time to be processed
      • Restrainer Hands – place pig in a restrainer to await stunning
        • Stunner was applied to the pig behind the ears with a regulated electric shock
        • Captive bolt was used on larger animals
      • Sticker – severed the jagular (Pg 123)
      • Shackler – hung the animals back legs on to the moving chain
      • Brand reader – read the brand and painted it on the pigs back and transferred the owners number to its tail
    • Chain would carry the pigs through the scalding vat after which a machine with rubber beaters revolved the carcass to remove hair
      • Further shaving and a blowtorch removed excess hair
    • Carcass was washed before final inspection for hair
    • Trimmers – removed eyelashes, ears, eardrums, tongues, tonsils and trotters
    • Slaughtermen – open the carcass and remove all internal organs some for further processing
  • Process of operation in the Beef Hall was as follows (Pg 124)
  • Gepps Cross initial beef processing used the bed and tackle or cradle system (Pg 124)
    • Method of a single animal was taken and butchered entirely before moving to another animal.
      • Animal was slaughtered and lowered on its back on a cradle to skin it, to then rehang the carcass to process (Pg 124)
      • Men usually worked in teams of 4, two on ladders, two on the ground
      • 8 slaughter teams worked in groups of 4
      • Clocks – kept track of the slaughtermans pace, Men weren’t allowed to go slower than the required pace.
  • String Gang (Canpak) method of slaughter was not introduced until 1960 (Pg 125)
    • labour required to process cattle using this system could be cut by 50%
    • Animal falls to a grate out of the knocking box after stunning and is slaughtered by a cut to the throat
      • Chain is placed around the hind legs to hoist the carcass and bleed it
      • Head and feet are cut off
      • Carcass is dressed on the rail while on the move
      • Workers are standing on adjustable platforms that can be adjusted to suit the requirements of the worker and task
  • Canpak method of slaughter for the Beef Hall is introduced in  1965 (Pg 125)
    • ‘dressing on the rail’ at this time was semi-automated with most tasks preformed by the slaughtermen except the hide stripping was preformed mechanically (Pg 125)
    • Fully automated ‘dis-assembly’ line wasn’t used at Gepps Cross until SAMCOR built an entirely new integrated Southern works in the mid 1970’s
    • Cattle rate of processing was more than 2 a minute (Pg 125)
  • Trade-union delegate and chain setter would prepare the slaughterers’ job allocation each day prior to work commencing (Pg 126)
    • Cattle moved from holding yards to the slaughter hall in races or passageways so they entered single file
    • knockers – performed the initial stunning
      • Prior to 1960 when the use of the captive bolt stunner was introduced animals would be hit on the head with a large hammer
        • Hammer and pithing were common practices but regarded as cruel methods of immobilisation (Pg 126)
      • After 1963 with the introduction of the Humane Killing Act stunners were used (Pg 127)
    • Sticking – severed the animals blood vessels after stunning and caused death (Pg 127)
      • Each beast produces 13 litres of blood
        • Captured and processed in to food and black pudding sausages
          • adhesives, stockfeed, fertiliser, glue, foam fire extinguishers, leather preparation and pharmaceuticals
          • Also cooked and coagulated to dry with the emerging powder bagged and sold at bloodmeal or blood and bone.
    • Religious slaughter was conducted at Gepps Cross (Pg 128)
      • Jewish shechita
      • Muslim halal
      • Both methods required animals to be fully conscious and facing west at the time of sticking and bleeding
      • Another Indian method requiring decapitation using a guillotine wasn’t used at Gepps Cross
  • Horns and feet were removed after bleeding (Pg 128)
    • usually used for pet food manufacturing or rendering
  • Hide was removed with an electric or pneumatice stripper (pg 128)
    • Hides received further processing at a site at the Western End of the Gepps Cross facility
  • Head is removed soon after slaughter in the Canpak method (Pg 128)
  • Evisceration is the process of removing the internal organs (Pg 128)
    • Segregation of edible and non-edible parts
  • Carcass is split in half vertically
  • Carcasses are graded on fat colour, butt shape and muscle score (Pg 130)
    • Fat depth and content is measures by term Chemical Lean (cl)
    • Authors note – higher cl percentage is less fat component.
  • During peak Gepps Cross operations, slaughter halls and all meat and fish capaabilities were in operation the facility employed
    • 12 veterinarians (Pg 135)
    • 70 fully qualified meat inspectors (Pg 135)
      • Gepps Cross trained inspectors and provided inspectors to abattoirs and boning rooms in SA and the NT (Pg 135)
      • Inspectors controlled the access to condemned carcasses to prevent us for human or pet-food consumption (Pg 135)
      • 190 meat inspectors were stationed at the Gepps Cross works but many inspected at other facilities (Pg 154)
  • March. A record store-cattle sale is conducted on 4,000 head (Pg 184)
  • Germany threaten to refuse import of beef from brucellosis infected herds (Pg 206)


  • MEAB built a new dining hall and locker room with separate facilities for women in anticipation of employment of them when SAMCOR is established (pg 109)
  • Gepps Cross sheep markets are moved from Wednesdays to Tuesdays (pg 201)
    • to allow retailers to provide fresh meat to consumers earlier in the week
  • June. A lamb that sold for $8.25 becomes the one millionth sold at Gepps Cross.(Pg 202)


  • MEAB is replaced by the establishment of the South Australian Meat Corporation (SAMCOR) (Pg 99)
    • New boards task is to make Gepps Cross a viable proposition (Pg 233)
      • New board had greater powers than previous authority
    • Proposed changes were to (possible) inclusion of a union representative on the new board (Pg 233)
    • Eliminate approximately 210 butchers who regularly brought their livestock at the Gepps Cross markets (Pg 233)
      • Minimum killing quotas were implemented September 1973.(Pg 233)
    • Retail butchers were to have deliveries cut from daily to twice (Pg 234)
    • With the implementation of SAMCOR, as a government statutory authority they were obliged to employ more women and offer job opportunities (Pg 107)
  • Women workers are introduced to the Gepps Cross Workforce (Pg 99)
    • required to alleviate the labour shortage at the time
    • AMIEU stopped work in protest claiming that abattoir employees didn’t want to see their wives and girlfriends working in the environment of meat processing particularly during the lamb season when the pace was frenzied (Pg 99)
      • 900 stopped work in protest for two days against employment of women (Pg 108)
  • Growing shortage of lambs in the second half of 1972 (Pg 236)
  • USA meat inspection regulation requires that only carcasses completely free of bovine tuberculosis at post-mortem inspection are able to enter the country (Pg 207)
  • Stockowners Association ask MEAB to extend the Southern yards and install scales (Pg 217)
    • Necessary finance of extension $140,000 was not available, or $40,000 for the scales


  • Extensive renovations are made to the Southern yards to use them for all sales of cattle through the pen method (Pg 178)
  • February. SAMCOR board conduct a study of all operations and consider slaughter facilities must be expanded immediately to meet essential needs of the meat industry and community (Pg 234)
    • $4.8M plan is announced to double the works capacity and slaughtering facilities (Pg 234)
      • New beef killing chain
      • 2 mutton chains
      • installation of air operated machinery
      • 2 hide strippers
      • Entirely housed in a new complex south of existing buildings
        • New facility was primarily to serve the local trade
      • Existing works was adequate for the current export throughput
  • Up to this point the Gepps Cross facility had charged all-embracing fee for services rendered (Pg 235)
    • restructure would see seperate chargesfor branding, droving, slaughter, overnight chilling, long term cold storage and delivery
    • Slaughter fee of ‘per head’ was introduced instead of ‘per pound’
    • Killing charges were increased
  • Gepps Cross facility had accumulated losses of $1.13M (Pg 235)
    • Skyrocketing wages were the biggest factor
      • wages accounting for 90% of facilities total operating costs
    • Community was synical of restructure and community ill informed of reasons for change (Pg 236)
      • severe worldwide shortage was causing retail prices of meat to rise overall and not as a direct result of SAMCOR increasing costs (Pg 236)
      • Meat prices had not kept pace with global inflationary trends
  • At this time SA was suffered severe loss of supply numbers due to lambs being transported interstate for slaughter (Pg 234)
    • Seasonal fluctuations in supply meant at times Gepps Cross didn’t have the capacity to handle lamb numbers and at times would be idle depending on seasonal conditions (Pg 234)
      • Numbers expected to be processed per week
        • 1,200 beef
        • 270 yearlings
        • 15,000 sheep and lambs
        • 700 pigs
      • Expected to employ further 500 people
        • reoganistion of all departments and introduction of a second shift in the beef hall reduced the wages bill by $1.7M
    • Some private companies were threatening to open their own works
  • At this time a severe shortage of lambs was occurring (Pg 236)
    • Mutton production declined due to higher wool prices and improved seasonal conditions (Pg 236)
    • 90% of Australian lamb production in consumed in Australia
  • September. Butchers minimum quotas are required (Pg 233)
    • 50 sheep, 50 lambs, 10 cattle, 10 calves and 10 pigs
    • Butchers feared they would lose their autonomy and forced to purchase from wholesalers
      • SAMCOR’s actions infringed their civil liberties
    • Small butchers banded together to meet quota


  • By products plant is replaced by a new modern ‘continuous-render’ system (Pg 138)
    • New system is a dry render plant
      • materials are cooked at very high temperatures, in their own fats
      • cylindrical vessel equipped with an agitator.
      • Discharged fats and protein material are cooked until dry
  • Strike causes the cattle railings to be used to dry skins as the strike prevented the skins from being taken away for processing (Pg 100)
  • Computer selling of pigs is introduced (Pg 194)
  • The last general cattle market occurs in the Bull ring (Pg 179)
    • 6M head of cattle had passed through it during operation
  • Tail tagging of cattle prior to sale becomes compulsory (Pg 207)
  • Elders sales are boycotted  because they withdrew their discount to butchers and meat companies who paid their accounts within 7 days (Pg 211)
  • July 3. All Australian workers receive hefty pay increases as a result of a national wage case (Pg 100)
    • Each worker receiving an average increase of $15 per week
    • Gepps Cross yearly wages increased by $1.25M
      • $900,000 increase in workers compensation and pay roll taxes
      • Cost was passed to SAMCOR customers
        • 39% increase in killing fees were announced
          • in addition to 69% increase  in killing fees announced only months earlier
  • Concern was SAMCOR was pricing itself out of existence (Pg 237)
  • The bull ring auction area is used for the last time, It had been in operation for 61 years (Pg 167)
  • August. AMIEU impose work bans to support interstate members working in private abattoirs claiming a 33% pay rise (Pg 101)
    • SAMCOR general manager at the time. John Tidswell stood against the claims
      • received strong support from producers because prices crashed as soon as bans were announced
        • prices had been affected because of fear purchased stock wouldn’t be processed
  • October. SAMCOR commence buying livestock in the market to keep it’s processing chains in operation (Pg 237)
    • Causes a major livestock buyer boycott at the Gepps Cross markets
    • SAMCOR had not intended to compete on the SA wholesale market and was only supplying its own employees for their personal consumption
      • Meat buyers argued they were their clients and all levies and restrictions on meat import into the metropolitan area should be dropped
        • Private abattoir establishment be fostered


  • Continuous price hikes occur (Pg 237)
  • Industrial disputes are common (Pg 237)
  • Severe downturn in throughput in the meat industry in general had taken hold (Pg 237)
  • Elders sales are put on notice of boycott due to their involvement in the live sheep export trade (Pg 211)
  • May. Chilled lamb trade to the Middle East collapses due to inadequate handling facilities in Iran (Pg 155)
    • Metro Meat had declined to provide to the trade 4 years previously due to the same issues of poor handling. (Pg 155)
  • October. Government Produce Department cease to exist (Pg 237)
    • Various functions are taken over by the State supply department and Department of Ag.
      • Legislation is implemented to transfer full control to SAMCOR
  • SAMCOR enter a 5 year contract with Sydney-based Fat City (Australia) to process 40,000 head of cattle a year for export (Pg 237)
    • SAMCOR were to provide killing and processing
    • Fat City would handle marketing of 10,000 tonnes of dressed beef per year in hamburger patties and portion control steaks suited to restaurant and fast food trade
      • Contract was cancelled in 1976
  • State Government independent report of SAMCOR find operations are largely favorable but unacceptably high cost were listed at problems (Pg 239)
    • Contradiction of a ‘service works’ charged with the task of breaking even
    • Great dissatisfaction with SAMCOR’s reliability and workmanship
    • Clients were having stock slaughtered at other facilities with greater service provision

Mid 1970’s

  • SAMCOR build the new Southern Works on the Gepps Cross site (Pg 117)
    • New works has covered sheep lairages
  • 2 water tanks of total capacity of 100,000 gallons are built (Pg 144)
    • Facility used 3M gallons of chlorinatd water each week for cleaning all areas of the works
    • Some water was derived from the River Murray


  • Gepps Cross is awarded an export order contract to Isreal (Pg 154)
    • Religious custom required that cattle have a hole cut into the belly wall before the hide was removed to allow the Rabbi to insert their hand and feel for any disease (Pg 154)
  • October. Western abattoirs facility is built to replace the previous boiling down works (pg 140)
    • Pet food abattoir that disposed of condemned and dead livestock
    • Acted as a public convenience facility processing horses and zoo animals
    • Condemned meat was branded with green ink to signify it was pet food only 9Pg 141)
    • Stock disposal crew consisted of 2 men on 24 hour standby (Pg 141)
    • Disposal plant was operated by another 2 men (Pg 141)
    • Western abattoirs could process 100 sheep and up to 40 cattle and horses each week (Pg 141)
    • Closed in early 1990’s
  • Fat City cancel their contract started in 1975 for 40,000 head of processed cattle a year for export (Pg 237)
    • Significant blow to SAMCOR because it was to process 1,000 head a week in the new Southern Works that was coming on line
    • 2 possible reasons deal fell through
      • Fat City had financial difficulties
      • Fat City had not seeked approval to export processed meat to the US under the strict quotas in place at the time
    • Collapse of Fat City left SAMCOR holding $3.5M white elephant
      • Equipment laid idle while SAMCOR tried to find a new operator
  • Sheep of No commercial Value became worthless due to a prolonged drought (Pg 246)
    • SAMCOR offer to dispose of livestock at no charge to producerw who could no longer feed them


  • At this time Mycom Ammonia refrigeration compressors were in use in the Southern Works (Pg 141)
  • Chillers and Freezers received all carton meat and bodies (Pg 141
    • Average daily processing of 6,000 – 8,000 mutton and lamb carcasses from the Northern works
    • 6,000 from the Southern works
    • 1,400 cartons of meatl
    • thousands of metres of running rails required cleaning by 2 men
    • Cold air forced into the chilling chambers by electric fans in the initial years.
    • Ammonia, the chilling agent was used in 2 miles of pipes.
  • Blast freezing equipment operated to minus 40 degrees Celsisus (Pg 145)
  • Southern Works is successfully commissioned as export licenced (Pg 241)
    • Closed indefinitely 18 months later
    • Suffered from continued engineering problems
    • Plant was closed before it was officially opened
    • Concern had been expressed at SAMCOR’s ability to restore the Gepps Cross facility to financial viability before building the Southern Works when the predecessor MEAB had be unable to operate profitably (Pg 241)
  • March. SAMCOR move into hamburger and portion control processing. (Pg 238)
  • June. SAMCOR cease meat delivery services (Pg 240)
    • Had been delivering to 700 outlets daily
  • SAMCOR suffered largest financial loss since 1972 (Pg 240)
    • 1976 / 77 Loss of $3.3M
  • SAMCOR take control of Port Lincoln abattoirs which adds to financial problems (Pg 243)


  • Live sheep export dispute ‘ Operation Sheeplift’ (Pg 101)
    • Problems had been brewing for more than a year
    • AMIEU claimed jobs were being lost due to live sheep exports
    • Meetings had been held to discuss a ratio of carcasses to live sheep consigned for export
  • March 19. AMIEU impose a picket to prevent movement of 30,000 sheep from Elders GM’s paddocks at The Levels to Iran Cremona berthed at Port Adelaide
  • AMIEU were asked to provide substantive analysis of the impact of Live sheep exports on abattoir employment but it did not do so (Pg 101)
    • Producers endevoured to explain to AMIEU that any restraints were a detriment to not only their (producers) interests but also the meatworkers
  • Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council David Trebeck “Abattoir awards already recognised the somewhat variable nature of employment in the industry by containing a loading to compensate for times when employees may be temporarily out of work; the numbers of sheep which died each year on farms from ‘normal causes’ substantially exceeded the numbers being exported live; and the union’s record of industrial disputes in the meat industry cost 262,000 man days of work sufficent to provide full-time employment for 1,000 people” (Pg 102)
  • A Combined Livestock Committee consisting of producer groups was formed
    • resolution passed at the initial meetings (Pg 102)
      • “That all primary producers in South Australia be advised that they should market no livestock for handling by any South Australian export abattoir as from and including Tuesday 28 March because, due to industrial interference, the market place does not represent the true value of their produce” (Pg 102)
      • Gepps Cross market that week yardings;
        • 84 sheep – normally 18,000
        • 28 cattle – normally 3,000
      • In Western Australia farmers were made temporary port employees, there was picket line  violence
      • Abattoirs nation wide striked 4 days
      • South Australian producers protested in Adelaide, 4,000 vehicles assembled in eight locations
  • March 27. Smallest ever yarding of cattle sees 28 cattle offered for sale.(Pg 185)
    • Long simmering dispute over live sheep exports
  • May. An Inquiry finds that SAMCOR restricts fair trade in the metropolitan area (Pg 244)
    • Trading restrictions under the SAMCOR Act should be removed
    • Would allow SAMCOR to sell meat freely through the state
    • Another 7 SA abattoirs had permits to sell a percentage of their throughput into the metropolitan area
      • Paid inspection levy of 1.1c per kg
      • SA abattoirs without permits could only sell their meat outside the protected zone.
      • Interstate abattoirs could sell their meat on the Adelaide markets
        • Paid SAMCOR levy of 2.2c per kg
        • From 1960 when only 5,000 tonnes of meat was imported
        • 1978 saw 28,000 tonnes imported.
    • SAMCOR were no longer required to operate Gepps Cross as a maximum capacity service abattoir (Pg 245)
      • Continue to provide a service role
        • accepting stock to slaughter only if viable
        • Able to sell land surplus to requirements
      • State Government compensated SAMCOR $1.5M per year for assets made redundant by its reduced service and would continue to subsidise further losses
  • June. SAMCOR financial losses 1977 /1978 $4M (Pg 240)
    • Mostly attributed to record low stock throughput
    • desperate new business SAMCOR cut its export kill fees (Pg 243)
    • Government determined it could not continue to support heavy losses at SAMCOR
    • Incentive scheme was introduced  similar to WA Meat Commission
      • Operators were given a rebate if they garanteed to keep their throughput at a certain level (Pg 244)
  • October. Over 3 days a record sale occurs of 9,081 head of fat cattle.(Pg 184)
  • Difficult 5 years of operation – Drought, low throughput numbers, technical difficulties, lost contracts and industrial disputes had taken their toll (Pg 243)
    • Salaried staff were reduced from 270 to 170
    • Daily paid labour reduced from 1,600 to 850
  • November. Suggested change of operation of SAMCOR was to lower its meat inspection for non-export meat as other non-export abattoirs required.
    • Would open SAMCOR to direct competition
    • Government attempted to introduce a bill that made non export standards improve effectively that would force small local processors out of business (Pg 244)
      • Bill was defeated and disallowed


  • January. Bull ring saleyards is used to sell horses (Pg 180)
  • March. Iran threatens to ban all Australian frozen lamb imports on grounds of  religious purity
    • Rabbi’s visited Gepps Cross and were critical but not objectional to (Pg 155);
      • knocking boxes not facing Mecca
      • Proper Muslim prayers not fully recited  as animals were killed by Halal method
    • The Rabbi’s objected to pseudo Muslims (Pg 155)
      • constantly questioning the Muslim slaughtermen to test their intensity of devotion to Islam
    • Trade was allowed to continue
  • Feral goats were slaughtered at this time, exported to Indonesia and the Middle East (Pg 155)
    • Approximately 500 per week were slaughtered
  • March. National Truck blockade over driver’s wages stops all road transport movements for several weeks.(Pg 185)
    • combined with a 3 weeks strike action by meat workers at SAMCOR
  • July. Meat workers Unions agreed to assist SAMCOR by increasing production by 15% without asking for a pay rise (Pg 243)
  • June. SAMCOR report a loss of $3.2M (Pg 245)
  • October. Sight unseen sales of pigs occur in the Bull Ring (Pg 180)
    • ‘Dressed weight’ basis and sales by description (Pg 194)
      • Pigs were sold prior to leaving the farm
      • Bids were on cents per kilogram basis
      • Guide to buyers was letter F or G describing the weigh range
      • Number indicating the back fat in millimetres
  • Southern Works plant that was only commissioned at the beginning of 1977 is indefinitely closed (Pg 241)
    • Drop in production demand
    • SAMCOR wanted to rationalise its slaughtering activities
    • 125 workers were laid off
    • Southern works instead of the Northern works was closed because the Norht concentrated on pig slaughter
      • Northern works became a combined beef for export and local markets
  • State government make a commitment of no retrenchments of government or government statutory authority employees (Pg 243)
    • Some workers became redundent due to reduced throughput
    • A fierce strike was averted at the state government decided to employ those workers affected elsewhere in the public service


  • Modern facility for pig slaughter is incorporated into the Southern Works in the early 1980’s (Pg 122)
  • Iran trade of lambs and sheep is halted when Iran enters into war with Iraq (Pg 155)
    • War lasts for 8 years
  • Tumultuous time for Business consolidation and takeovers with many Pastoral houses merging with competitors and new term agribusiness emerges (Pg 215)
  • Weekly livestock agents draws are replaced by a rotation system (Pg 215)
  • January 1. BTEC – Brucellosis-tuberculosis eradication campaign is begun.(Pg 186)
    • Pens and yards are required for effective segregation of animals
  • Brucellosis causes cows to abort calves
    • Estimated 30% of Barkly tableland cattle alone carried the diseases of TB
    • Eradication was required to maintain access to overseas markets and improve cattle productivity, including protect human health
    • Germany had threated not to import beef from Brucellosis infected herds in 1970
    • BTEC program was a difficult logistical system due to complexity of testing procedures and absence of fully effective vaccines (Pg 207)


  • Half of Australia’s 185,000 cattle herd is declared Brucellosis free
    • Eradication program to date has cost $110M
  • SAMCOR accumulated losses to this point $20M (Pg 243)
    • Overall loss for 17979/1980 $0.75M (Pg 246)
    • Operating profit of $1.1M for the same period (Pg 246)
    • In 8 years of operation SAMCOR had made a profit only once (Pg 245)
    • SAMCOR was only processing 30% of all livestock in SA
      • compared to 90% in the 1950’s
      • Further restructuring is required to lower losses
        • allow government and private companies to take up shareholding in SAMCOR
        • sell 164 ha worth $4M
        • Limit the works service role
  • USDA do not re register the Northern works pig slaughter for export (Pg 246)
  • Export beef and mutton halls were already de-registered and the works was confined to slaughter of animals for the local trade (Pg 246)
  • Northern works boning rooms were still up to standard and could continue to be export registered (Pg 246)
    • Wasn’t commercially viable to justify continued holding


  • February. The Meat Hygiene Act is passed and proclaimed (Pg 154)
    • Under the Act, the meat inspection fee for meat entering from other states is abolished (Pg 154)
    • SAMCOR compete against competing slaughterhouses by cutting slaughtering fees processed for the local trade (Pg 154)
      • 10% reduction for cattle
      • 6% reduction for sheep and lambs
  • SAMCOR losses 2 major clients (Pg 155)
    • Wholesaler Thomas Borthwick & Sons sacle down SA operations
    • Bennets Farmers withdraws from meat buying
  • Freez Pak take on hamburger manufacturing operations at Gepps Cross (Pg 239)
  • When the Meat Hygiene Act came into force there were 130 slaughterhouses operating in SA (Pg 155)
    • 12 months later only 71 were in operation
      • These 71 licensed slaughterhouses processed less than 5% of the meat produced in the state
  • April. SAMCOR stop operating Western Works pet-food abattoir (Pg 246)
    • Private operator takes over this section 1 month later
  • May. Southern yards are utilised for BTEC segregation yards (Pg 186)
    • Segregated selling occurs until January 1984.
  • State Government become a major shareholder of SAMCOR – 80% equity (Pg 246)
    • Government paid the annual interest bill on the $26.5M Corporations outstanding loan debt of more than $28.5M
      • costing the government $2.6M per year
  • Areas under utilised were leased to tenants (Pg 246)
  • June. SAMCOR make a modest profit of $0.75M


  • Elders build a massive feedlot at the The Levels – entrance area to the marketing stockyards to service the live export sheep trade (pg 33)
  • Port Lincoln abattoir is approved for USDA export (Pg 247)
    • Makes a loss of $900,000 (Pg 247)
    • 1979 report had indicated Port Lincoln be given 5 years to rectify position (Pg 247)
  • Closure of 20 meatworks around Australia since 1978 (Pg 247)
  • SAMCOR make an operating profit 2 years in a row (Pg 247)
    • 1981 /1982 $256,000
      • Southern Works had been operating to full capacity for the year
  • October. Northern Works facility is mothballed (Pg 247)


  • SAMCOR – Gepps Cross make a profit of $294,595 (Pg 247)
    • Employment at Gepps Cross is the lowest in 30 years
    • Forecast reduction of cattle from the NT is expected
      • Port Lincoln facility has made a loss of $537,528


  • Bull Ring is used as a filming location for ‘Robbery under Arms‘(Pg 180)
  • January. Final BTEC segregation of Southern yards is conducted.(Pg 186)
    • Cattle from restricted properties could not be sold in the saleyards and were consigned direct to slaughter (Pg 208)
      • Producers were concerned their stock were not subject to market competition and were losing money (Pg 208)
  • June 29. Port Lincoln abattoir is closed (Pg 247)
    • Port Lincoln abattoirs continue to lose money (Pg 247)
    • cumulative losses over 10 years were in excess of $9M
    • Works required minimum $200,000 pa to maintain to export standards
  • Doubts are raised if Gepps Cross can survive the fierce competition from private abattoirs in SA (Pg 249)
    • Recognition the small abattoirs are more efficient
    • Expected loss of $1.5 – $2M
      • Actual was $1.73M Loss
      • Livestock shortages
        • Cattle throughput was down 39%
        • Calves down 63%
        • Lambs and sheep down 43%
  • Wages were attempted to be renegotiated
    • SAMCOR had paid double time when time and ahalf was industry standard on paid overtime (Pg 249)
      • Could have saved SAMCOR $6,000 per week
  • July. An Auction is scheduled to clear the Northern works of surplus equipment and materials (Pg 249)
    • This is the beginning of the end of the Gepps Cross facilities
  • August. SAMCOR cease branding and droving services (Pg 247)
  • November. Sale of lambs by description is introduced (Pg 203)
    • New method was not successful and was cancelled 3 weeks later


  • Mudginberri abattoir (NT) industrial dispute caused legal action under the Trade Practices Act against AMIEU, ordered to pay $1.7M in damages plus costs. (Pg 105)
    • largest amount ever awarded against a trade union
    • Changed the way the meat industry operated and introduced workplace enterprise bargaining agreements (Pg 105)
  • SAMCOR order new European pig processing machinery to accomodate increased demand to handle greater numbers at the Northern Works (Pg 195)
    • Space was converted in the Southern Works into 2 boning rooms
    • One Southern Works chain was converted to multi purpose pig and mutton line utilising both new equipment as well as machinery from the Northern works.
  • Northern Works is decommissioned (Pg 195)
  • January. BTEC study finds major short comings in the way the eradication program was handled
    • BTEC control had moved to North Australia
      • The most expensive phase of eradication
      • Producers protested they couldn’t meet testing requirements
        • increased mustering costs of helicopters particularly
        • Holding and remustering costs increased operational overheads
        • Some producers only alternative was to shoot all stock and restock with clean animals
      • European Economic community were protesting about Australia’s inability to supply the tonnages of beef it required
      • Severe drought at this time in the North
    • June. SAMCOR record a loss of $626, 235 (Pg 250)
      • Included payroll tax $555,716
      • Increased number of stock were processed
      • Consolidation of operations reduced losses
        • `Had been widespread disruption to abattoirs throughout Australia due to Mudginberri dispute.


  • Consolidation of the Northern Works had been successful (pg 250)
    • Only departments left working at the site were administration, security, by products and the boiler house.
  • March. A second union representative is placed on the 6 man SAMCOR board (Pg 251)
    • Union loading is unprecedented and highly criticised
  • June. SAMCOR record a $1M loss
    • Rely heavily on sale of blood and bone for revenue
      • worldwide slump in prices
  • Ultimatum is issued by government that the works will be closed entirely if unions refuse to change their work practices and the plant fails to return a profit by 1988. (Pg 251)
    • Public Service Association would not consider cost cutting measures of standing down clerical and administrative staff during seasonal lows
    • AMIEU would not accept standing down of the entire workforce on slack days
  • A review suggested if drastic changes were not made SAMCOR’s cash reserves would be depleted by 12 months (Pg 251)
    • 1985 /1986 actual Loss was $995,136. (Pg 251)
  • Gepps Cross sheep and pig market areas were sold to the State government $2.24M (Pg 251)
    • Sold to relocate the Adelaide East End produce market
    • Financed the new pig hall and boning room in Southern works (Pg 263)
  • SAMCOR make a half year profit $526,000 (Pg 252)
  •  New pig slaughtering chain had been installed (Pg 252)
    • Was plagued with technical and industrial trouble


  • SAMCOR lobby the state government to provide state-of-the-art scales facilities (Pg 217)
  • SAMCOR 1986 /1987 $622,521 profit (Pg 252)
  • June. Plans were underway to move the sheep and pig markets south, closer to the meatworks (Pg 263)
    • It would not cater for 100,000 sheep and lambs as it had done previously.
    • SAMCOR informed SA Stock Saleman’s Association that despite the yard sales if couldn’t afford to replace sheep and pig complex’s (Pg 264)
    • Some farmers were totally reliant on the Gepps Cross facility to sell their livestock (Pg 264)


  • SAMCOR purchase collection business of Hortico By Products (Pg 252)
  • A Committee is established to explore the possibility of establishment and operation of new saleyards (Pg 264)
    • Possible sites were 2km west of the town
    • Snowtown
    • Port Wakefield
      • Vendors from south of Adelaide would be disadvantaged wanting facilities at Strathalbyn and Murrary Bridge improved
    • Mallal – 40km North of Gepps Cross
      • had railway access from Alice Springs, Broken Hill and Perth
      • was connected by 3 main highways and 5 secondary roads
        • Local residents were opposed to the yard establishment
          • costs to ratepayers to subsidise the development
          • side effects of smell, dust, weeks and compulsory acquisition of land
          • Producers land that was located near the site said they were not for sale.
        • Feasibility study presented 2 options
          1. $2.9M sheep, lamb and pig complex
          2. $4.2M incorporating a cattle selling facility as well
            • council approached government for $920,000 grant or interest free loan or $2M loan outright.


  • SAMCOR is operating only 4 days per week (Pg 252)
  • Heavy rains have fallen restricting stock being submitted to be processed (Pg 252)
    • Cattle throughput drops 50%
    • Sheep numbers are down 75%
      • SAMCOR increases its killing charges by 40%
  • May. A developer expresses interest to invest $4.5M to build a new saleyard complex 3km North of Gepps Cross adjacent to the saltfields. (Pg 266)
    • Area was zoned as a holding area for sheep of the live export trade and would need rezoning by Salisbury council
  • November. A formal application is not made to Salisbury and hte project is abandoned (Pg 266)


  • Pig Slaughter facilities in Australia introduces humane use of carbon-dioxide gas to immobilise the animals prior to slaughter (Pg 122)
    • CO2 renders the meat to be of better quality
    • CO2 wasn’t used at Gepps Cross
  • Western Abattoirs boiling down works that processes horses, zoo animals, condemned or dead livestock is closed (Pg 140)


  • February. Bull Ring is placed on interim list of heritage buildings
    • Removed off the list in 2002
    • Building was decaying and projects were being considered for its repair
      • Building was burnt down in 2005
  • SAMCOR has been losing a great deal of money resulting in cutbacks to its services and yard maintenance (Pg 187)
  • Board is advised that the 1989/1990 year SAMCOR will make a profit (Pg 252)
    • Advice was wrong
      • Loss $1.7M
        • Loss was pinpointed to the Mutton line
    • Triennial review of SAMCOR reveals (Pg 252)
      • Poor accounting practices make it difficult to determine where losses occurred
    • Poor industrial relations were not only restricted to workers labour component (Pg 252)
    • In trying to minimise work stoppages heavy pigs were processed on the beef chain (Pg 252)
      • Unknown how this affected Halal slaughter requirements
      • Meant pigs killed on beef chain incurred a 300% rise in slaughter charges
    • Poor customer relations (Pg 252)
    • General failure to give SAMCOR direction through strategic planning (Pg 252)
      • Entire new board was appointed
      • Given 5 to turn the corporation into a profit making, efficient operation that didn’t ‘bleed off the state’
        • If the board was unsuccessful closure was inevitable
  • Gepps Cross saleyards are given a 5 year reprieve to relocate (Pg 266)
  • SAMCOR increased yard fees to cover higher lease costs and maintenance (Pg 266)
    • Gepps Cross yards were described at this time as the worst in Australia (Pg 266)
    • $1M in yard fees had been collected annually but no improvements or maintenance was done (Pg 266)



  • Agents consider conducting sales of cattle, sheep, lambs and pigs all in one day (Pg 186)
    • Wholesalers and producers refuse to allow sales to occur
  • New selling method of Computer Aided Livestock Marketing (CALM) fails to live up to extravagant claims by agents it will replace the Gepps Cross yards (Pg 187)
  • State Government announce they would provide a loan of $167,000 to install live weight scales at Gepps Cross (Pg 217)
    • SAMCOR guaranteed one third
    • Agents had to guarantee two thirds
    • Gepps Cross at this point is the only major saleyard complex not incorporating liveweight selling facilities
  • SAMCOR make a profit of $786,494 (Pg 253)
    • Outdated state award wage system was replaced with modern federal award (Pg 253)
      • Result was improved productivity, higher wages and opportunity for increased employment
  • August. Computer controlled blood processing works is opened (Pg 283)
    • Cost $250,000
  • December. A field day is held to show industry representatives the corporation’s turnaround (Pg 253)
  • Overland Meat Exports commence operating a boning room at the works (Pg 253)
    • In addition to current Holco & RJ Gibertsons


  • News articles are reporting the Southern yards to be in a deplorable state and that all maintenance of the facility had ceased (Pg 187)
  • June. SAMCOR make a 2nd years operating profit $1.379M
    • A record for profit for SAMCOR in entire operation period
  • August. T & R withdraw its beef and sheep contract and send its stock elsewhere to be slaughtered (Pg 253)
    • T & R were said to have withdrew contracts with no notice to SAMCOR
    • SAMCOR’s sheep processing went from 9,000 per week to zero
      • T & R had been responsible for 97% of the small stock processing at Gepps Cross
    • T & R had held 44% of the cattle processing at Gepps Cross
  • Local trade were supportive of Gepps Cross (Pg 253)
    • Works processed
      • 3,600 sheep one day a week
      • 450 cattle each for 4 days of the week
      • Pig processing remained unchanged at 4,000 per week


  • Consortium company – Liveweight Scales Pty Ltd is formed to operate the scales (Pg 217)
    • Elders, Dalgety and SAMCOR
    • Based on Albury-Wodonga Municipal Saleyards
  • May. Live-weight selling is introduced (Pg 187)
    • Causes congestion in the yards due to the need of animals to be weighed and yards emptied.
    • All livestock were weighed pre-sale (Pg 217)
      • Altered to post-sale 15/10/2001
  • Newmarket saleyards in Melbourne had been using liveweight selling since 1975 (Pg 216)
  • Extensive modification was required to modify the yards to suit large scale weighing (Pg 187)
    • originally the yards had been build to accommodate stock arrival by train
    • By the mid 1990’s all stock arrived by road and the facilities couldn’t cope with the vehicle needs of larger truck road trains.
    • Truck road trains also required side loading/unloading where as previous trucks were rear loading.
  • June. SAMCOR suffered operating loss $2.5M (Pg 253)
    • Loss mostly attributed to 200% increase in workers compensation and
    • Loss of its largest client (T & R Pastoral – Holco)
  • Discussion is suggested in the media to move the saleyards to a new site at Bolivar near the sewerage treatment works (Pg 267)


  • Gepps Cross operators attempt to diversify (Pg 253)
    • Successful slaughtering of deer were conducted in trials.
  • December. South Australia is nearly bankrupted  by losses made by its state bank (Pg 255)
    • New Liberal government – Dean Brown is elected in a landslide.


  • February. 70 red deer sourced from SA were processed under export conditions (Pg 254)
    • Venture was short lived.
  • New customers couldn’t be found to replace T & R (Pg 254)
    • SAMCOR’s future was grim
  • June. State government calls for expression of interest for development, demolition or salvage of 6.6 hectares and approximately 50,000 square metres of buildings comprised of Metropolitan and Export abattoirs (MEAB) Northern works (Pg 255)
    • Included large tracts of land and associated buildings for livestock and meat industry had already been sold previously to Adelaide produce markets
  • Sale of the land was viewed critically by livestock industry as the government was seen to assist relocation of the produce markets but not livestock (Pg 255)
    • None of the revenue from sale was returned to the SA livestock industry (Pg 255)
    • Many in the livestock industry felt powerless to act
      • Concern that the sale funds would be deposited to general revenue and not used to pay for current market facilities that were deteriorating at a disastrous level
  • Meat Livestock Australia Top 25 processors. Gepps Cross is rated 16 (Pg 256)
    • Exports 55% of its kill
    • Turnover of $20M
  • August 3. State Cabinet are considering 3 options (Pg 255)
    1. Continue with operations as they are
    2. Close the facility
    3. Put the works up for sale
  • August 7. Decision by State Government had been made to sell the 49 hectare site including buildings, plant and by products site (Pg 255)
    • Metro Meat were rumoured to have taken over the Gepps Cross works and closed its Noarlunga operations.
      • Went against regulations of the Trade Practices Act
        • Metro had recently taken over Naracoorte for new owners China International Trust and investment Corporation
        • Metro owned export works in Murray Bridge, Noarlunga and Naracoorte
  • October. Auctioneers walk way is removed from above the sale pens.(Pg 267)
    • Stock agents and clerks were unable to conduct the sales efficiently
    • SAMCOR’s liability insurance was found not to cover accidents involving the walkways use due to its state of dis-repair
  • Private investors were sought to fund the relocation of the yards (Pg 267)


  • June. SAMCOR generate a loss of $3.2M for 1994 /1995 (Pg 256)
    • Below capacity operations at the works
    • Requirement of $2.8M to be set aside for Workers Compensation fund
  • July. Unless a joint venture partner was found the pigs sales would occur at the Southern Yards cattle market (Pg 268)
  • August. Mallala is announced by the state Government a the new relocation for the selling yards (Pg 268)
    • new proposal was initially a co-operative, now replaced by a proposal of unlisted public company (Pg 268)
    • Total cost $4.5 – $5M
      • new yards to accomodate 35,000 sheep and lambs
      • 2,000 pigs
      • 2,900 cattle with allowance up to 4,200 cattle
      • Prospectus was issued in October.
  • October. Gepps Cross is advertised for sale (Pg 256)
  • World beef prices at this time were at record highs (Pg 257)
  • December. 6 month operation losses $1.364M (Pg 258)


  • Elders sales are boycotted at Gepps Cross due to contract Elders had won to supply beef
  • to Korea (Pg 211)
    • Buyers for other suppliers were angry Elders had exported 800 tonnes of beef sourced directly from producers and the market system
    • ACCC viewed Elders increased involvement in beef exports to Korea as possible breach of trade Practices Act
  • March. Report into the Australian National (AN) Railways is commissioned (Pg 228)
    • AN losses had blown from $26M to $100M in 1995/1996
    • Recommendation was to close all unprofitable lines, effectively scrapping the hauling of livestock
    • Railways typically been able to recover 15% of the costs of carrying livestock
    • Only QLD provides continued railway livestock services with major external subsidies and indirect taxes on coal transport while recovering only 15c in every dollar spent to undertake the task (Pg 229)
  • Concern is increasing for the delay in securing a buyer for SAMCOR (Pg 256)
  • March 27. Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service withdraw 4 SAMCOR export licences (Pg 256)
    • USA
    • Canada
    • Poland and
    • Brazil
    • 2 others suspended, European Union and Mexico are also shut down
    • Structural maintenance issues and operational hygiene procedures are not up to standards required to meet the above markets
  • SAMCOR at this time was the only service export abattoir in the state and effectively shut down access to lucrative markets. (Pg 257)
    • Exporters were forced to have stock processed interstate
      • increased costs or forced scaling down of some operations
    • Beef market was already flat due to global supply
    • Britain had an outbreak of Bovine spongiform encephaopathy (BSE)
  • April. A new site for the saleyards is secured (Pg 269)
    • 160 hectares north of Two wells, Dublin.
  • May. Corrective action allowed re-instatement of 4 delisted and 2 suspended licences (Pg 257)
    • Only for beef
    • no mutton export was allowed
  • World beef prices dropped to their lowest in 22 years (Pg 256)
    • Australia’s largest beef customer – Burger King Corporation of the USA
      • Announce they will access product 100% from the USA
      • McDonalds reinstate their long held policy of buying US domestic beef
  • June. Canadian based beef processor Better Beef Limited express interest in Gepps Cross (Pg 257)
    • Planned a 5 year lease with a right to buy
      • Planned to restructure the works
        • employed 650 people producing vacuum-packed frozen beef offals, burgers, sausages and beef tongues
  • Adelaide based Austral Meat and Overland Meat Exports had also expressed interest in Gepps Cross (Pg 257)
    • Estimated $6M price
  • July. SA Government announce it has abandoned outright sale of the works (Pg 257)
    • Citing a confirmed acceptable bid could not be negotiated
    • Claimed Better beef had changed original tender from purchase to lease proposal after tenders closed
    • Operators at Gepps Cross were confused and concerned
      • feared they would be shut out of processing by international companies entry
  • August 30. Second round of tenders close for sale of Gepps Cross (Pg 258)
  • October. May to October Government used more than $1.2M to enable Gepps Cross to remain operational (Pg 258)
  • December. Republic of Tatarstan, a former Russian Soviet state purchase SAMCOR
    • Corporation Agpro Australia (Pg 259)
      • SA registered company with links to former Russian state
    • Paid $5.3M for the meatworks
      • SAMCOR’s facilities would be allowed to continue operation
      • Foreign Investment review board required approval
  • Dublin saleyards receive planning approval (Pg 269)
    • For sheep and pigs
    • Almost a replica of the new Bendigo saleyards in Victoria
      • Built to Australian national quality assurance standards
  • Now cattle producers, stock agents and cattle buyers were concerned about where their current Southern yards market area that was facing imminent closure (Pg 269)


  • January 27. Foreign review board give approval for Agpro purchase of Gepps Cross (Pg 259)
    • Abattoir would continue operating as a service abattoir
    • Existing clients could continue to use Gepps Cross complex at current pricing structure
    • pig chain slaughter was in doubt due to Halal slaughter requirements of cattle and sheep
    • Agpro would have tenure at Gepps Cross until 2009 (Pg 260)
      • under directive of Environment Protection Authority
  • January 28. Last day of slaughter by SAMCOR (Pg 113)
  • Australia is declared free of Brucellosis and Tuberculosis (Pg 208)
    • 27 years eradication program costing in excess of $850M
    • Australia was the first country to be declared free.
  • AMIEU impose a industrial dispute soon after take over by Agpro (Pg 260)
    • Agpro wished to change wage structure from tally system to flat pay-rate with bonuses.
      • Current tally system required 6 payroll staff to administer
      • Agpro wanted to abolish extra payments for handling dirty animals, heavier animals, missed hooks on the chain and when production stopped due to machinery breakdown
      • Tally system had been in place since 1960’s
      • 20 meatworks had closed in Australia in the previous decade
        • Pressure was to ensure abattoirs operated at peak efficency
      • Tally system was maintained but with no extras
  • February. Dispute carried on for a further 2 weeks (Pg 260)
    • Agpro announce bulldozers will level the SAMCOR building if the worsening union dispute couldn’t be resolved and production resumed
    • Equipment would be exported as there was demand for it
  • February 18. Agpro back down to union demands (Pg 260)
    • Meat export contracts are in jeopardy
    • Gepps Cross livestock markets were collapsing
      • Union reject offer due to unions court action over another matter involving redundancy payments to workers affected by the sale of the works
  • March. Production resumes (Pg 261)
  • July. First export shipment of by products valued at US$300,000 leaves Gepps Cross
    • First part of a 4 year contract to supply meatmeal, bonemeal and tallow to the former Soviet state
  • September. A Prospectus is launched urging livestock producers to become shareholders.(Pg 269)
    • Livestock Markets Limited (LML) failed to secure $2.4M investment required to access a further $3.4M in bank and state government loans for first stage of construction at Dublin for cattle yards (Pg 269)


  • January. Agpro refuse to renew LML’s current lease of Gepps Cross saleyards (Pg 269)
    • Agpro think the saleyards and markets should remain at Gepps Cross
      • Wanted sales to stay at the abattoir site until it would be forced to relocate the itself in 2009 under state government order (Pg 270)
    • Agpro continue with modifications to Southern Yards at Gepps Cross to accomodate sheep sales (pg 270)
    • Court injunction prevents Agpro from not renewing contract of use of yards at Gepps Cross (Pg 270)
  • Adelaide Businessman and Cattle producer Alex Karytinos steps into take over new complex closer to Adelaide and not Dublin (Pg 270)
    • Would build and operate the new complex of stockyards
    • LML wouldn’t be involved in the project
    • Ground works had already begun at Dublin
  • Initial investors of LML were returned their contributions (Pg 270)
  • Alex Karytinos decided to invest elsewhere and the relocation project was once again thrown into confusion (Pg 270)
  • June 30. Gepps Cross site is set to expire (Pg 271)
    • No alternative site to move to and an emergency contingency plan was drawn up for selling livestock after the yards closed
    • Plans were made to relocate markets to other existing saleyards
      • Murrary Bridge
      • Bowmans
      • Balaklava
  • Agpro still planned to build new yards next to the Southern Yards cattle market
    • Against the advice of stock agents due to the lack of feasible and practical use of cattle yards for sheep
  • November Viv Oldfield, Alice Springs Drilling contractor and pastoralist buys all LML shares and recommences the work at the Dublin site (Pg 271)
    • Dublin would be ready for operation Mid 1999.
    • Stock agents and producers were extremely relieved and said they would support the Dublin yards (Pg 271)
  • November 24. Last sheep and lamb market to take place at the original Gepps Cross yards occurs (Pg 272)
  • December 1. New Agpro sheep market yards sited adjacent to the Gepps Cross cattle markets started use. (Pg 273)
    • problems with the design and operation
    • Yards had been bituminised causing summer heat problems for animals
    • Insufficent amount of drafting space
    • Durability of bitumen and yards was of concern
    • Midfield Meat refused to buy from Gepps Cross
    • Yards became slushy in wet weather.



  • Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) declare the Gepps Cross cattle market as unsafe following severe injuries to stockmen (Pg 188)
    • Remedial action notice was issued.
    • Prohibition notice was issued to 6 companies to prevent them loading at certain areas
  • January. Pig selling method of ‘sight unseen’ was losing favour for some time and discontinued (Pg 195)
  • April. Dublin yards are taking shape (Pg 273)
  • June. Sale method of pigs by dollars per head is finished (Pg 195)
  • Gepps Cross pig and sheep markets are relocated to new modern selling facility at Dublin.(Pg 195)
  • July 6. Last sale of ‘new’ Gepps Cross yards occurs. (Pg 273)
  • July 13. Dublin Adelaide Plains Livestock Exchange (APLX) saleyards begins operation (Pg 275)
    • Cost $6M
    • Marks a new era in livestock selling in South Australia
    • Initially comprised on sheep and pig selling
  • At this point there is still no decision on future of Southern Yards Cattle market at Gepps Cross(Pg 276)
    • Lease due to Expire January 2001. (Pg 276)
  • July 15. T & R Pastoral announce it would cease operations at Agpro (Pg 261)
    • 300 workers lose their jobs
    • T & R commence operations at Murray Bridge in August 1999
      • T & R purchased Murray Bridge March 1999.
  • Saleyards relocation from Gepps Cross to Dublin is occurring (Pg 261)
    • Dublin yards are nearing completion
    • Agpro announce a reduction in yard fees to attract producers to the Gepps Cross yards
  • November. Gepps Cross abattoir infrastructure is advertised for sale (Pg 261)
    • Advertised offers for subleasing of refrigerated chillers, boning rooms, food processing facilties and industrial workshops short and long term.
  • Analyst Glen Keil  in reference to Gepps Cross demise
    • “It’s client base had been lost due to failure to provide an adequate client service at competitive rates”
    • Expansive abattoirs are now superseded by smaller, compact plants using shift work labour force to maximise efficency”


  • State Government Administrative and Information Services seek a hazard identification audit (Pg 188)
    • To institute a  maintenance and repair program to ensure the safety of workers and the public
    • The Gepps Cross yards did not comply
  • Little money was being spent on the yards as they did not have a long term future.
    • New yards were hoped to be built 50km north at Dublin.
  • Coles and Woolworths had supermarkets located either side of the yards and were lodging complaints of stench.
  • EPA conducted further tests and declared the yards had to be moved
  • Petition was begun to lobby the state government for $3M grant to relocate the Gepps Cross yards to Dublin
  • Government responds angrily to comments that it has not assisted the industry (Pg 189)
    • Taxpayers have spent $23M in the running of Gepps Cross over the past 10 years
      • Recouping only $4.8M from SAMCOR


  • January. Seemed certain that Gepps Cross cattle market would be forced to move to Strathalbyn (Pg 277)
  • No deal had been signed for a Cattle market at Dublin as different stakeholders couldn’t agree on conditions (Pg 277)
  • February. Elders and Wesfarmers Dalgety agreed to sign on a $1M contribution from each for construction of the new works (Pg 277)
    • Managers of LML accuse Primary Industries minister Rob Kerin of backing away from a promise to support the project with $1M
    • Project required government support in form of a guarantor in order to gain a bank loan.
  • September. Work begins on Dublin cattle yards (Pg 277)


  • October. Former by products plant is set ablaze by arsonists (Pg 283)
  • December 16. Last Gepps Cross cattle market is held (Pg 277)


  • January 20. New cattle markets occur at Dublin (Pg 278)
    • 7 years of planning
    • $20M in investment


  • February. The last livestock train from Alice Springs carried only 25 empty cattle vans all to be scrapped (Pg 229)
  • By end of 2004 all trace of once a massive complex at Gepps Cross saleyards, ramps, platforms and offices are removed (Pg 229)


  • January. Former Gepps Cross Cattle sale ring is destroyed by fire (Pg 162)


  • March 15. Derelict former Gepps Cross abattoir administration building is destroyed by a deliberately lit fire (Pg 283)

NSW Meat Industry Milestones

General Quotes and Information

  • Neville Newton – 50 years working in abattoirs, managing Blayney, now Goulburn1.

“There are far too many processing abattoirs out there and not enough animals to slaughter”1

“Industry plight has been caused by record low numbers of livestock”1

“We’ve had a drought for a long period of time”1

“In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen it a bit like this was in the late 70’s and early 80’s with beef, there were large herd numbers and there was a very big cow and heifer kill and then all of a sudden they just ran out of numbers, At that time there were a lot of corrections in who owned bee processing plants in Australia”1

  • Central west NSW used to have 11 abattoirs, now it has 4. Cowra, Dubbo, Goulburn & Oberon. Currently 29 licensed red meat abattoirs in NSW, down 30% decade ago. (Dated 16.02.2010)1
  • Atleast 6 red meat abattoirs in Central NSW shut since 2003 (Dated 16.02.2010)1

Timeline Information


  • Aus-Meat registered abattoirs in NSW – Not necessarily all abattoirs as it wasn’t mandatory to register with Aus-meat.
    • 16 – Export acrredited abattoirs2
    • 8 Domestic abattoirs2
    • 16 Boning facilities.2


  • Federal and State governments agree on mandatory code for processing red meat in export and domestic abattoirs and meat processing plants.
  • Federal had been pushing for compulsory code of conduct for meat inspectors in all states.
    • Under existing arrangements a national code of conduct of inspection was in force but was applied voluntarily by the states
  • “Australia has the most rigorous hygiene standards in the world, but there was a pressing need to continually update the codes of conduct in the industry” Senator Collins.
  • Community and Public sector union alleged that cartons of meat with pesticide levels 12 times above allowable limit were sold on domestic markets. Also said it had details of meat subsitution rejected from export sold into domestic.
    • Union declined to substantiate allegations at special senate hearing in Canberra


  • USDA reviewd Australian export abattoirs and found 14 of them unacceptable or marginally acceptable. Australian quarantine services conducted its own review and found all but 1 up to USDA standards5
    • Unacceptable abattoirs in NSW named6
      • NSW – Southern Country Foods – Wagga Wagga6
      • Rockdale Beef – Yanco6
    • Marginal abattoirs in NSW named6
      • Wingham abattoir – Wingham6
      • RG Gilbertson – Grafton6
      • Cargill Australia – Wagga Wagga6
  • We have too many abattoirs to be economic, as a consequence corners get cut. We are the biggest exporter of beef to the world so it is vital we drive a massive rationalisation of the industry or we will be cut out” – John Carter, 10 years head of NSW Meat Industry Authority.6
  • AQIS did suspend 2 abattoirs after its own inspection found deficencies not picked up by USDA5
  • Australia’s beef export trade worth $1B5
  • Method of operation that is in question not the meat being produced is contaminated or off8
  • Europe blacklist in 6 meat exporters – citing animal welfare breaches and technical faults7
    • Europe $85M market7
    • Europe told AQIS – killing procedures in some inhumane, Stun guns were inadequate in 1 abattoir7
    • 6 of the 11 abattoirs inspected banned from exporting to Europe7
    • Australian Meat Council – animal welfare standards depended on which side of scientific  debate one listened to7
      • “what is a breach and isn’t is widely disputed both on rational and irrational grounds” Christopher Creal. Aust Meat Council.7
      • “Europe had enormous problems with trade in unsafe meat. There is a blackmarket trade in meat grown in some pretty nasty hormonal promotants, and vets have been murdered for trying to clean up chemical regulation”Christopher Creal. Aust Meat Council.7
  • “Far too many abattoirs operate with low-level expertise and management, They must be upgraded or they should be closed”. John Carter. Former head of NSW meat Industry Authority9


  • Waterfront Industrial dispute – 1,800 process workers stood down.4
    • boycott of NFF and supermarkets and against the unloading of Australian products4
    • Abattoirs were unable to obtain empty containers for shipping requirements4


  • Aus-Meat Accredited
    • 16 Export accredited abattoirs3
    • 0 Domestic abattoirs3
    • 10 Boning facilities3


  1. ‘Abattoir industry in disastrous state’ ABC Rural 16.02.10
  2. ‘Aus Meat Accreditation Listing November 1987 – private email, Ausmeat. 16.01.13
  3. ‘Aus-Meat accreditation Listing – current at 14.01.2013
  4. ‘1,800 Meat workers stood down’ Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). 20.04.1998.
  5. ‘Threat to beef export trade’ SMH
  6. ‘US names abattoirs producing bad beef’ SMH
  7. ‘Europe blacklists six abattoirs’ SMH 23.01.1996.
  8. ‘Meat Exporters have bone to pick with us’ SMH 19.01.1996.
  9. ‘US threat puts $1B beef trade at risk’ SMH 18.01.1996.

Milestones in the Australian Meat Industry


  • Outbreak of pleuropneumonia – decimated herds in NSW4


  • 1st Freezer works invented – Darling Harbour8


  • Tick introduced on imported stock from Dutch Bativia4


  • Tick Plague bought red water fever – killed many cattle, some pastoralists abandoned properties4


  • 3 Zebu bulls introduced to QLD4


  • 15 year contract with Australia – UK purchased all exportable beef surpluses8


  • Large numbers of imports of Zebu to QLD4
  • Refrigeration for long haul transports improved in efficiency and financially8
  • Sheep prices soared £1 head – during Korean war10


  • Britain won contracts in previous Australian export markets. USA developed ‘grinder beef’ allowed new markets for North Australia4
  • Global demand for beef, boom lead to record cattle numbers in Australia8


  • USA Lean beef market development8


  • Australian Sheep herd 155M10
  • Petrodollars Money – Middle East had significant discoveries of oil and lifted living standards in those countries, created a building boom, workers mainly from 3rd world muslim countries10             pg 28
  • 1st shipment to Middle East. 2500 Australian sheep £6, 14 shillings and 4 pence a head including fodder for voyage10Pg 28


  • UK – had outbreak of FMD8


  • BTEC began – stopped 1989. Cost $800M
  • Large cattle numbers and slaughter rates in 1970’s prompted significant expansion in processing capacity in QLD, with an increase in capacity of 32% between 1975 – 1982 (Rolfe 1988). The plants then faced work practices characterised by single shifts and a tight tally’s system. Most of the expansion met through construction of new plant, which was also needed to meet export standards in many of the overseas markets3
  • Sheep live exports significant – Middle east, Cattle SE Asia8
  • Economic downturn in the 70’s led to drops in global beef demand8
  • 4 out of 5 meatworks in North Australia had their export licences withdrawn –
  • “inability to fullfill obligations under the meat board diversification scheme in Australia”8
  • Australian sheep herd 180M10Pg 37


  • Australian sheep herd 142.3M10Pg 37


  • Beef Crash – caused by major loss of markets USA & Japan, severe drought started. Cattle prices plunged to lowest level in 30 years.4
  • Herd shrank by more than 60%5
  • Oil prices crisis triggered global collapse4


  • LE to SE Asia re-emerge on a small scale after years of inactivity5
  • LE mainly to Malaysia, Philippines and then in early 90’s to Indonesia8
  • National Beef herd 32.8M10Pg 42
  • National Sheep herd 127.5M10 Pg 42


  • AMIEU – picket line 4 weeks, prevented sheep being loaded onto ship, Feedlot Adelaide Virginia 90,000hd sheep. Were losing sheep due to rain and cold weather, Waterside workers unions also striked in support.Unions lead by Bob Hawke. Public rally supported by Farmers 10,000 against the union 4th April 1978. Operation Sheeplift – loaded at Wallaroo.10Pg 43
  • Meat Processing in trouble – didn’t have enough outlets for all the meat it was processing, yet LE was thriving at significantly higher prices, LE was shipping aged merinos, not suitable to slaughter in Aust, AMIEU still picketed10Pg 49


  • Cyclical downturn in slaughter numbers occurred in the early 1980’s, rationalisation was required. Industry commission inquiry in 1983 recommended market forces rather than government intervention be allowed to drive the changes.3
  • Plant closures of the late 1980’s was in response to rationalisation pressures. Most plants that were closed were the older, inefficient plants that reached the end of their operating life(Reynolds and Sangster 1998b).3


  • Australian Meat Holdings (AMH) formed – was pivotal in rationalising the meat processing sector in QLD– consortium of 4 meat processing companies, Including Elders (who bought other partners out in 1988) who then sold to USA processor (ConAgra)1993-1996.

1984 – 1986 

  • AMH closed 5 plants of the initial 11 owned by the consortium – utilisation rates had fallen to 32%


  • BTEC finalised4.


  • By the 1990’s, plant closures tended to be forced by financial losses rather than operating inefficiencies3
  • USA market health regulations forced many abattoirs across Australia to shut down8

(Not sure when actually occurred – ????????)


  • Live cattle exports to Asia and Middle East 147,000hd1


  • Live cattle exports to Asia and Middle east 290,000hd1


  • Beginning of Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBA)


  • disputes and lock out at Rockhampton AMH abattoir


  • EBA’s introduced – Previously tally system has set rates of pay and also rate of productivity. Any new investment in efficiency meant workers just reached minimum tally in a shorter time. Tally system removed, increased production levels3.
  • EBA allowed multiple shifts,reduced penalties and shift loads, longer working days and increased pay rates. 30-40% increase in effective capacity. Lead to 40% reduction in unit costs3.
  • AMH if gained a 4% efficiency achieved a net gain of $62M over 10 years, industry wide net gain would yield $404 net gain3


  • Innisfail Meatworks closed leaving Townsville as only Northern abattoir in QLD5.


“Last weeks QLD cattle kill of 43,700 hd was 40% below the same week last year, The extreme low rates of kill are also reflected in industry statistics showing that for the 3 months ended January 30, Australian beef exports to the US reached just 38,000t a far cry from the same period in 08/09 of 70,000t2


  • Live Export ban to Indonesia.


  • Carbon tax introduction – $23/t for over 25,000t of greenhouse emissions.Europe payint $9.80/t6
  • Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) introduced7
  • “AEMIS  utilises the presence of full-time government  veterinarian assessing the incoming stock and oversighting the production and inspection process, and a full time government food safety meat assessor inspecting”7
  • “The system is subject to external audits from senior Australian government veterinarians and by foreign officials representing many of our major trading partners”7
  • One processor says will add $100,000 in costs over next 12 months7
  • May. JBS arrived in Australia 2007, “despite $500m investment on improvements and upgrades, the cost of production of beef relative to major international competitors has actually worsened” JBS CEO Andre Nofueira12


  • February. QLD cattlemarket indicator (QCMI) 1985 $70.80 buy the same amount of goods in todays $ would cost $180.70 – prices are 30% lower in real terms than what they were in 859
  • March. Near record weekly kill tally – 81601, close to all time record July 200111
  • Young cattle indicator slipped 12c/kg, some grids back by 20c/kg


  1. ‘The past is before us’, The Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. Undated

  1. ‘Abattoirs under stress’Beef Central 22.02.10
  2. Competition and Exit in Meat Processing:A QLD Case Study. Agribusiness review 1999

References with their articles (Rolfe 1988),(Reynolds and Sangster 1998b)

  1. ‘North’s Beef Powerhouse’ Nth QLD Register 22.11.12
  2. ‘100 years of Northern Beef Production’ Nth QLD Register 22.11.12
  3. ‘Processors beef with carbon tax’ Nth QLD Register 06.09.12
  4. ‘Exporters query E.coli blow-up’ QLD Country Life 31.05.12
  5. ‘Sailing ahead’ Annabelle Coppin 2009
  6. ‘Beef Prices at historic lows necessitates focus on cost of production’ Beef Central 18.02.13
  7. ‘The Australian Livestock Export trade’ Nigel Austin 2011
  8. ‘Record QLD kill reflects ‘avalanche’ or dry weather cattle’ Beef Central 19.03.13
  9. ‘JBS heads calls for industry-wide focus on competitiveness’ Beef Central 17.05.12
%d bloggers like this: