Yardings up at SE saleyards

28 Jul, 2015 02:00 AM
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Mount Gambier and District saleyards manager Peter Mitchell stepped into the job in March and has a number of projects at hand. He has a financial and business administration background, with his previous role as commercial manager of fuel distributors Scotts Agencies.
Mount Gambier and District saleyards manager Peter Mitchell stepped into the job in March and has a number of projects at hand. He has a financial and business administration background, with his previous role as commercial manager of fuel distributors Scotts Agencies.

THE two major saleyards in the South East remain a popular marketing choice for livestock producers within the region and further afield.

In the 2014-15 financial year, Naracoorte Regional Livestock Exchange and Mount Gambier and District Saleyards posted gains on the previous years in annual cattle numbers, and together offered nearly 600,000 sheep and lambs.

Naracoorte's throughput of 110,744 cattle was up 13,400 on last year and its sheep and lamb numbers were also up 3300 head to 414,761.

At Mount Gambier, cattle numbers were at 105,000 head compared to 96,140 in 2014 although sheep numbers were down from 200,000 to 164,000 head.

Naracoorte Lucindale Council director of operations Steve Bourne said it had "more than made its budget" at the regional exchange with cattle numbers one of the highest throughput.

He was particularly pleased with the "excellent" prices being generated through the yards in the past couple of months and the strong buyer support.

In the past financial year, the council completed a nearly $500,000 project installing three new cattle loading ramps and modifying the unloading ramps, bringing the total infrastructure upgrade costs in the past three years to nearly $6 million.

It is working on a major project of upgrading cattle selling pens apart from others such as revamping toilets at the canteen.

The council has endorsed $1m in funding for the former in 2015-16 and hopes to have this matched with a state or federal government grant to get it off the ground.

It has enlisted Bendigo-based company Kattle Gear through a tender process for the design consultation work.

The plan is to replace the selling pens section by section with minimal disruption to weekly sales.

Mr Bourne said the design challenge was to "future proof the yards" considering possible needs such as side loading and road train access.

"The yards have served council very well and have stood the test of time but there have been some changes with environmental conditions which we have dealt with the water treatment plant, significant changes with workplace health and safety which we have been dealing with the loading ramps, and animal welfare with soft flooring and roof and so on," he said.

"It is trying to keep ahead of the changes which are coming.

"If we could design something we get 40-50 years out of, like the initial designers, that would be a great result."

Mr Bourne said the council aimed to make the Naracoorte exchange SA's premier livestock selling facility.

"That's what we are aiming to do - improve the facilities and if we continue to attract livestock we will continue to get good prices," he said.

Mount Gambier and District business manager-saleyards Peter Mitchell, who started in the role with the District Council of Grant in late March, said it was pleasing to see a lift in cattle numbers through the facilities but said the high prices had encouraged producers to sell stock earlier.

He said this could impact on numbers later on.

"Our (seven) agents are sourcing stock though from a vast area, from close to Adelaide back through Kingston and Meningie, and we still get a fair few from across the border," Mr Mitchell said.

"Mount Gambier has got a really good reputation with sellers and buyers and the council is committed to continuing to improve the facility."

The most recently completed project at the Mount Gambier yards, at a cost of nearly $800,000, has been resurfacing the main entrance and unload areas one and two, and spray-sealing the access road and line marking. Elevated walkways have also been upgraded.

Other recent investments include rubber matting in all 196 selling pens, roofing a large receival area, and a new cattle drafting, weighing and scanning system.

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    Catherine Miller

    Catherine Miller

    is Stock Journal's livestock editor and South East correspondent

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