In the end, the battle between the Warrnambool and Mortlake saleyards was close.
In its first year of operation from January 22 last year, the Western Victoria Livestock Exchange at Mortlake put through 35,315 store cattle and 30,568 prime cattle, giving it a throughput of 65,883 cattle, not including dairy and other sales.
Warrnambool saleyards’ throughput from January last year to January this year was 46,630 prime cattle, 18,672 store cattle and 2324 dairy cattle, giving it a total of 67,626 cattle.
The figures show the new Mortlake saleyards were ahead with store cattle while Warrnambool was the leader in selling prime cattle.
Mortlake saleyards manager Tim Nowell said his saleyards aimed to eventually put through 160,000-200,000 head a year.
“Our long-term goal is to get to that.
“Wait and see what happens in this market space,” Mr Nowell said.
He said Mortlake’s first year throughput figures were “very positive” and had to be considered in the context that “there are still four other selling centres around us.”
His yards’ first year performance had shown they were the preferred place to sell store cattle, Mr Nowell said.
Between 10-16 buyers for meat companies attended Mortlake’s monthly store sales as well as individual buyers, he said.
“At store sales, we average between 65-70 buyer cards.”
Buyers at its store sales came from throughout Victoria and interstate and usually included about seven buyers representing feedlots, all creating strong competition for the store cattle, Mr Nowell said.
The yards’ focus on animal welfare was attracting vendors and buyers who knew the focus presented the cattle in good condition, leading to better prices, he said.
The yards were fully roofed, had a soft floor and sprinklers were used to drop the ambient temperature on hot days.
Horses were used to move cattle along races to lower their stress and there was minimal interaction between cattle and people, Mr Nowell said.