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2021 saleyards survey released

27 January 2022

Key points:

  • Saleyard throughput is down 10.3% year on year
  • 3.5m cattle and 13.4m sheep were sold via saleyards in FY21
  • Wagga remains Australia’s largest saleyard

The 2021 edition of MLA’s annual saleyards survey is out now. This saleyard survey’s results show the total number of cattle and sheep transactions through all Australian saleyards in the 2020–21 financial year.

Herd and flock rebuilds underway

The 2021 results reinforce that industry is in both a sheep flock and cattle herd rebuild, with less transactions taking place as producers retain livestock. In 2021, there were 17 million saleyard transactions made across both livestock species, down 10.2% from the 18.9m transactions recorded in FY20.

Sheep make up 79% of all saleyard transactions at 13.4 million head, while the remaining 3.5 million head of saleyard transactions are cattle.


While most saleyards experienced a decline in throughput, Guyra, Deniliquin, Gracemere, Mareeba, Mortlake, Casterton, Ballarat, Warracknabeal and Naracoorte experienced increases of over 10%.

Wagga remains the largest saleyard in Australia, transacting 1.8 million sheep and 113,000 cattle in the 12 months to June 30, 2021.

Sheep yardings

11% of all national sheep transactions occur through Wagga. Collectively, the top five saleyards of Ballarat, Hamilton, Bendigo, Wagga and Forbes contribute 37% of all sheep yardings.

Hamilton overtook Bendigo as Victoria’s second largest sheep selling centre, while Leongatha overtook Barnawartha as Victoria’s biggest cattle market.

Cattle yardings

Looking at the cattle saleyards, Gracemere is closing in on Dalby as Queensland’s second biggest cattle saleyard.

Supply to increase

The biggest fall in yardings during FY21 occurred in NSW cattle sales and Queensland sheep sales, which both fell by over 29%.

The lower yardings in FY21 translated into higher prices as supply was constrained. However, as 2022 and 2023 approaches, yardings are expected to increase as the rebuild matures and more animals hit the market.