Hailed as the most modern of its kind in Australia, the delivery of a new $16 million cattle selling facility, which took less than two years to complete, has ticked off a bucket-list wish that some in the industry have longed for for more than 40 years.
Designed on a similar plan to its sister SELX saleyards at Yass, NSW, the complex drew in its first sale a broad range of beef and dairy stock comprising bullocks, bulls, cows and young cattle.
Stock were consigned from across the whole of the western district, with some being trucked from as far as Horsham in the Wimmera.
A head count of more than two dozen beef processing companies and feedlot operators, both local and interstate, provided a depth of competition not seen at western district saleyards for a decade.
This has raised hope that a more fluid, active and fairer marketplace has been created for future generations of livestock and livestock sellers.
The stand-out highlight of the day was the comfort provided for the 2000-plus yarding.
On a number of occasions throughout the day, cattle were observed lying on the specially blended sand and wood shaving floor, or contently chewing their cud.
The opening of the new facility has not been without its hiccups, with one of the WVLX’s six directors only last week arrested overseas for an alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring.
WVLX director Brendan Abbey said the personal activities of their accused partner had come as a complete shock to his fellow directors.
However in order to remove any clouds of uncertainty that might linger over the saleyards as a result of his actions, his directorship and any connections with the business were being terminated immediately.
WVLX agents association president Bruce Redpath said the day as far as agents were concerned went extremely smoothly.
“There were a few minor hiccups that can easily be sorted,” Mr Redpath said.
“As agents, we were also overwhelmed by the size of crowd. If you said 1000 to 1500 people came to watch, no one could dispute it. I was personally involved when the Pakenham Saleyards was opened, and this crowd was far bigger.”
A man of few words, Swan Hill abattoir and Garrision Feedlot operator Robert Woodward was also suitably impressed by what he saw.
“Great facility, great support shown by both the producers and the processors, and the soft floor is great for the cattle, and that is the most important aspect,” Mr Woodward said.
Future WVLX prime markets will be conducted each Monday starting at 9am.