A $4 million upgrade for Hamilton’s regional livestock selling centre has been proposed to replace the city’s ageing yards which have reached their use-by date.
It would enhance the centre’s status as Victoria’s third largest sheep selling centre and the 10th busiest cattle sales venue.
Southern Grampians Shire Council this week released a draft masterplan for public comment outlining how the project should be developed in consultation with agents and producers.
It points to opportunities for Hamilton to exploit the market and develop as a super yard as other selling complexes are at risk of closing or relocating.
“Ballarat and Warrnambool yards have limited lifespans,” agents told the report consultants. “Get stock from areas such as Mortlake, Lake Bolac and Willaura and grow cattle numbers from southern areas if Warrnambool yards are moved east.
“If Hamilton is not developed, a private operator will forge ahead in the Western District and build a selling complex. Producers are paying fees exorbitant for antiquated yards.”
Meanwhile, Warrnambool City Council is still awaiting expressions of interest to build and operate new regional saleyards to replace its ageing saleyards.
The shire council this week voted to release the draft document for comment for 28 days before a further vote on the issue.
This financial year the shire has budgeted for a $144,000 surplus from its livestock selling centre and the masterplan consultants estimate about $4m is needed for the upgrade to maintain and increase market share.
Agents and producers indicated Hamilton’s share of the cattle market would fall significantly in five to 10 years if the yards were left unchanged.
However, if major upgrades were completed the cattle market share would rise by up to five per cent and the sheep market share would rise by three per cent. Hamilton has an annual turnover of about a million sheep and lambs and about 45,000 through the yards.
The draft report reveals the sheep yards need to be reconstructed and covered to address environmental concerns while the cattle yards require remediation to improve safety for workers.
Concerns are also held for the overall environmental status with the effluent treatment plant and storage at capacity and a yard washing system that uses saline bore water.