Saleyards moving with times

Saleyards moving with the times


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SALEYARD LEADERS: Australian Livestock Saleyards Association chief executive Mark McDonald and president Stuart McLean.

SALEYARD LEADERS: Australian Livestock Saleyards Association chief executive Mark McDonald and president Stuart McLean.

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Saleyards face challenges but have been proactive in moving with technology.

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The role of saleyards in modern livestock marketing remains integral to success, according to Australian Livestock Saleyards Association chief executive Mark McDonald.

"If you are a producer, you have plenty of options to market your livestock - direct, AuctionsPlus, saleyards, sell to your neighbors, Mr McDonald said.

"There are plenty of options there and that's a good thing.

"If producers are smart they will want that situation to continue for a long time."

Mr McDonald said saleyards were an essential part of the mix.

"We recognise that there is a trend towards fewer saleyards, and that private ownership will increase; that's been a trend for 20-plus years and won't change," he said.

He said with larger and fewer facilities there would be an increase in sale days, ensuring better utilisation of the facilities.

The key issue was that saleyards were the only public sources of market information, he said.

"If you didn't have saleyards, growers would not be very well served in terms of knowing what the market was like," he said.

"We see a bigger role for more electronics at saleyards.

"Our board is very supportive of off site bidding and has provided subsidies to saleyards to trial that technology."

Mr McDonald said the technology was adequate but there were some issues with the logistics and change of process prior to the sale.

Another area the organisation was keen to advance was sheep weighing before sales.

"We think that's another step forward to weigh sheep and put them into more tightly grouped weightings for penning," he said.

"That will help with the future of saleyards."

Mr McDonald said safety was an ongoing issue, but most saleyards were addressing staff training.

"As yards get upgraded, facilities like loading ramps were also upgraded," he said.

"It's a difficult environment with agents, buyers, the public and transporters."

Issues that might face the industry included possible animal activist activities.

"We are looking at getting our members some training," he said.

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