THE WA Meat Industry Authority (WAMIA) hopes producers will be attracted back to the auction system when the state-of-the-art Muchea saleyards is up and running.
WAMIA acting chief executive officer David Saunders said the number of sheep sold through saleyards had declined over the years, but hoped the new facility would attract people back to saleyard selling.
In 2000 there were 1.3m sheep sold through the saleyards but today there are only 860,000 head in the auction system.
This is a deficit of nearly 500,000 sheep.
Mr Saunders said this was due to different buying trends as well as people holding on to their stock.
But he said producers had to be given a viable option to selling directly to processors and live exporters.
He said there had not been large-scale investment in the saleyard industry for a long time, and a lot of the yards were old.
If a second-class facility were provided, it would not give the saleyard the chance to attract more stock.
WA sheep numbers have been the talk of the livestock community because two new sheep selling centres are due for completion next year.
There are concerns that the state may not be able to support three sheep selling centres.
The proposed Muchea and Northam saleyards will be about 100km apart while the existing Katanning yards attract most of the southern stock.
WAMIA has released a report that indicates a strong throughput of sheep to the Muchea region.
Mr Saunders said 62pc of stock sold at Midland saleyards was presently trucked past the Muchea site.
The authority undertook the study to understand where WA's sheep were sold and would most likely be sold with three saleyards in action.
The analysis used information from the 2004/05 Midland saleyard numbers, 2004/05 slaughter data and 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics WA sheep flock numbers.
Northam shire believes it will have the sheep numbers to support its proposed centre.
The shire has identified a region north-east of the town that has a high population of sheep.
But according to the WAMIA study, a majority of these sheep are not sold through the saleyard system.
If Northam selling centre goes ahead, Mr Saunders said Muchea might build a slightly smaller centre.
But WAMIA had already budgeted on the worst-case scenario in regards to the minimal number of sheep being sold through the yards.