Vendors selling livestock in Victoria could be restricted from entering selling complexes during live sales until at least the new year, saleyard operators warn.
The easing of coronavirus restrictions in regional Victoria is unlikely to affect the stringent protocols saleyards are operating under with many permitting only volume buyers and agents from entering sites at places such as Ballarat and Mortlake.
The Victorian Livestock Exchange, which operates the Koonwarra complex in South Gippsland, faces the unenviable challenge of managing the only selling facility in metropolitan Melbourne at Pakenham.
VLE chief executive Brian Paynter said both saleyards would remain subject to tough lockout rules on non-essential people, including vendors, for the foreseeable future.
"Vendors are an essential part of our business and while we want them back in, under our COVIDSafe plan we will only permit entry to professional buyers, staff and agents during sales," Mr Paynter said.
"We will continue to restrict the total number of people on both sites to between 45 and 60 people and practices such as temperature checks and registers will remain in place."
Some selling facilities have adopted an hour-long inspection before the sale, allowing prospective buyers to view cattle before leaving orders with agents while others facilities have adopted social distancing measures to allow vendors to return to markets.
Western Victoria Livestock Exchange manager Wayne Loader said the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions on regional Victoria would not change who could attend store sales at Mortlake.
"We hope vendors will be able to attend sales at Mortlake after Christmas but that all depends on what restrictions are in place," he said.
In East Gippsland, vendors are allowed to attend Bairnsdale store sales if they hold a property identification code.
"This means people who are selling cattle or are looking to buy can attend the saleyard," East Gippsland Regional Livestock Exchange manager Mal Lees said.
Meanwhile in northern Victoria, Friday will mark the first time in Swan Hill's history a store sheep sale will be conducted entirely online.
BR&C Agents auctioneer John Sawyer said the decision to move the 17,500-sheep sale online to AuctionsPlus was due to the limited amount of people who could attend the market.
"We made the decision to move the event online several weeks ago," he said.
"Thankfully, with so much feed across a large area, there's many people looking for sheep so this will give us further reach into Queensland, NSW and SA."