There’s no doubt the battle will be spirited.
The opening on January 22 of the Western Victoria Livestock Exchange at Mortlake will kick off a robust battle for cattle numbers with council-owned saleyards at Warrnambool and Camperdown.
The Warrnambool saleyards, otherwise known as the South-West Victoria Livestock Exchange, has the most to lose but stands in a strong position.
It enjoyed a big turnout of buyers and sellers at Friday’s First Cross cattle sale with buyers coming from South Australia, northern Victoria and Gippsland as well as local areas to pay excellent prices for the 1321 cattle yarded. The saleyards is fully aware of the battle ahead and had flyers stuck on its canteen windows declaring it had full support from the facility owners, Warrnambool City Council, and participating agents, to provide assurance about its future.
Corangamite Shire Council has said it will support its Camperdown saleyards as long as it is supported by buyers, producers and agents but is also exploring the possibility of leasing them to another operator.
Cattle producers at Friday’s Warrnambool sale were divided in their opinions on their support for the Warrnambool saleyards with some producers backing the new Mortlake yards, others intending to stay with Warrnambool and some taking a wait and see approach.
Among those expecting to sell at Mortlake were Danny Ewing of Ellerslie and his brother Peter Ewing of Glenfyne.
Danny Ewing said the Mortlake yards were close to his property and he expected them to attract more buyers than Warrnambool.
While Mortlake’s yard fees were higher than Warrnambool’s, he did not expect that would deter many producers who would be willing to pay them in return for the anticipated higher prices to be paid by buyers.
Wil McKenry of Berribank, Coleraine, said the Mortlake yards would be another 100 kilometres from his family’s property and it would cost another $5-$10 a head to cart them there.
He expected the family would wait and see what prices were paid at Mortlake before deciding where to sell its cattle. His grandfather, Henry McKenry, said he expected the family would be guided in its decision by its stock agent.
The Warrnambool saleyards has the most to lose but stands in a strong position.