Beef Industry Consultant Willie Van Solkema is one of the co-authors of a new report that looks at the opportunities and challenges for growing  Saskatchewan's livestock processing sector.

He was one of the keynote speakers for the Saskatchewan Stock Growers AGM and Convention this week.

Knowing the numbers and the time involved is key in the development of any operation. 

Van Solkema says when it comes to building a processing plant it's important to realize that construction prices have gone up, timelines for decision making are tighter, and it can take anywhere from two to two and a half years from signing the agreement to reaching actual production.

He notes that when it comes to animals Saskatchewan could sustain a plant.

From a slaughter steer and heifer standpoint there's about 150 thousand animals in the province at any one time,  while on the demand side about 30 thousand tonnes of beef is consumed in Saskatchewan.  

"You basically would not just supply all of Saskatchewan, but you'd have 60,000 tons of meat to move outside of the province. Basically what it's telling you is that a plant of 1000 head per day, you are going to come into direct competition with the two big plants in Alberta."

Van Solkema says there's a pretty hefty price tag involved in setting up a processing facility.

"When it comes to construction costs and set up for a 400-500 a day slaughter plant, you're looking at $120 million. It includes basically everything from the front end to your box storage, and includes all of your equipment."

He notes a thousand head a day plant would cost north of $200 million dollars, and would need about $20 million in cash flow to make it a fully functioning facility. 

Overall, when it comes to the operating costs for a thousand head a day plant, you would probably be over $50 to $100 per head for what the big processors are paying.

He says the greatest potential for a plant in Saskatchewan would be to focus on rail loading cows, while a major area of concern is going to be site location, waste water and rendering.