Saleyard survey insights

07 February 2019

The results are in from MLA’s Annual Saleyard Survey, which is designed to identify the total number of cattle and sheep consigned to Australia’s saleyards over the course of a financial year.

Results were obtained using the following addressable data points:
• 174 operating saleyards were identified across Australia and contacted to partake in the Annual 2018 MLA Saleyard Survey.
• Excluding depots that do not transact livestock, there are 162 saleyards marketing livestock.
• 107 saleyards marketing livestock submitted results, representing a cohort of 66%.
• Of those saleyards that submitted throughput; 62 operate weekly, 23 fortnightly, 13 monthly, while the remainder conduct show or special sales.
• Several saleyards still classified as operating did not transact any sales in the 2017-18 financial year due to drought.

See below for state-by-state summaries for cattle and sheep.


To view the full cattle saleyard survey report, please click here.

NSW – Substantial increases to numbers

Cattle saleyard throughput totalled 1.75 million head, an increase of 8.2% year-on-year – the highest of all states recorded in the 2017–18 survey. Generally, cattle numbers increased at inland saleyards, with those closest to the coast posting decreases over the financial year.

Like previous years, the saleyard with the highest throughput for NSW was Dubbo, recording 241,282 head of cattle. Wagga Wagga yarded 178,357 head, closely followed by CTLX Carcoar with 172,925 head – substantially closing the gap compared to the previous year. There was increased cattle throughput for TRLX Tamworth, totalling 137,745 consignments. Gunnedah yarded 133,367 head of cattle, also increasing in cattle volume year-on-year.

Numbers at Casino eased on the previous year to 92,010 head. Inverell lifted total throughput by a substantial amount during the year, recording 85,091 consignments, up 41.6% year-on-year. SELX Yass reached a total throughput of 77,709 head, also an increase to volume offered. Scone cattle numbers increased, yarding 73,085 head and Forbes numbers were higher than the previous financial year results, recording 70,063 head.

QLD – Warwick commands more consignments

According to the results of the 2017–18 annual saleyard survey, 1.23 million cattle were consigned across Queensland, easing 11.9% year-on-year. The tough seasonal conditions in NSW saw cattle numbers increase for most saleyards that sit adjacent to the Queensland-NSW border. Those closer to the Brisbane CBD generally recorded fewer cattle compared to the previous year, while saleyards furthest west posted negligible change. Saleyards situated in Isaac, Central Highlands, Western Downs, Goondiwindi regions posted the greatest increases.

Roma remained the largest cattle selling centre for the country, with a similar throughput to the previous year at 305,692 head. Dalby followed with 219,243 consignments over the course of 2017–18, and Gracemere yarded 121,674 head. Warwick recorded a total consignment of 60,496 head – up 2.5%. Emerald closely followed with 102,463 cattle yarded.

Blackall experienced negligible change to their total cattle throughput, recording 86,374 consignments. Numbers easing slightly from the previous year for Charters Towers, as they totalled 65,025 head. Numbers at Toowoomba had a subtle decline to 43,653 head, while Gympie experienced a slightly higher decrease, posting a total throughput of 39,207 head. Biggenden yarded 35,024 head during 2017–18.

VIC – Total numbers decrease

880,158 cattle were consigned to Victorian saleyards in 2017–18, representing a decrease of 11.2% year-on-year. Generally, saleyards located in southern parts of the state and surrounding Melbourne CBD saw reduced cattle numbers, with those located furthest from the Melbourne CBD recording increases.

Once again, NVLX Wodonga recorded the highest cattle throughput for the state with an even 200,000 head yarded over the course of the year. As with the previous year, Leongatha saw the next biggest yardings, this time consigning 116,756 cattle. Pakenham numbers eased slightly to 91,498 head, while Shepparton followed closely with 89,436 head. Bairnsdale secured 70,000 head, increasing their total throughput year-on-year.

Numbers at Warrnambool decreased considerably, easing 42.4% to 62,500 head. Ballarat followed with 40,798 head yarded, back slightly from the numbers recorded in the 2016-17 financial year survey. Camperdown reached 31,385 head, representing a decrease of 25.4%. GRLE Sale locked down 31,300 head, similar to the previous year. Colac secured 30,922 consignments, just short of the numbers received during 2016–17.

SA – Consignments ease slightly

According to the survey, total cattle throughput for South Australian saleyards declined from 261,467 head in 2016–17 to 224,340 head in this most recent financial year, representing a decrease of 14.2%.

The 2017–18 survey revealed the selling centre with the highest yardings was Naracoorte, with a throughput of 70,060 head. This was closely followed by Mount Gambier and then Mount Compass, at 65,685 and 57,865 head, respectively. Dublin’s total number of consignments was 30,730 head. It was evident that saleyards nearing the state’s capital were showing the largest increases, while those nearing the South Australia-Victorian border saw lower volumes. Interestingly, the saleyards showing the decreases are those that yard the largest number of cattle – accounting for just over 60% of the state’s total cattle throughput.

WA – Throughput remains similar for Western Australia

WA cattle throughput remained similar year-on-year, totalling 234,746 head in 2017-18. Once again, Muchea had the highest number of consignments, followed by Boyanup, yarding 93,310 and 69,828 head, respectively. Mount Barker yarded 67,711 head and Manjimup yarded 3,897 head.

TAS – Cattle baseline set for saleyards

Given there was no saleyard data reported last financial year, this sets the baseline for future saleyard surveys conducted by MLA for cattle and sheep saleyard throughput in Tasmania. The 2017–18 MLA survey revealed that that Quoiba had the largest number of cattle consignments, with a total 14,429 head recorded. Following that was the saleyard at Powranna and Killafaddy, reaching 4,612 head.


To view the full sheep saleyard survey report, please click here.

NSW – Significant increases to numbers

The number of sheep consigned in NSW in 2017–18 was 9.04 million head, up 651,780 head, representing a 7.8% increase year-on-year. The survey results indicate that saleyards with the largest increases of sheep were primarily located within the Murrumbidgee and Central West regions.

As was the case in 2016–17, Wagga had the highest total throughput with 1.8 million sheep yarded – maintaining its reputation as the largest selling centre for sheep in the country. Forbes followed with 1.58 million consignments, along with Dubbo, recording 1.48 million head, both increasing year-on-year. SELX Yass also increased throughput, yarding 802,779 head during 2017–18, followed by Corowa, recording a slight increase in volume to total 625,000 head.

The volume of sheep throughput decreased slightly at Griffith, recording 547,472 head in this survey. CTLX Carcoar also had reduced consignments at 462,568 head. The numbers at Cowra were up slightly, consigning 350,377 head of sheep, as was the volume of sheep at TRLX Tamworth, yarding 239,817 head. Guyra yarded 175,346 head, remaining close to firm on the numbers recorded in the 2016–17 MLA saleyard survey.

QLD – Warwick remains top selling centre

The majority of Queensland’s sheep saleyards recorded year-on-year increases, particularly those furthest south. This year, total sheep throughput across Queensland saleyards totalled 117,547 head, representing a decrease of 0.7%.

Warwick remained the top selling centre for sheep in the state, with throughput for 2017–18 reaching 116,875 head. Gympie followed with 252 head, while Toowoomba, 193 head, Woodford, 127 head, and Blackall, 100 head all had small consignments for 2017–18.

VIC – Bendigo experiences largest increase in sheep consignments

Total sheep throughput in Victoria exceeded 4.5 million head, a small increase of 1%. This survey illustrated that most saleyards within the Central Highlands, Goldfields and Goulburn Valley regions recorded larger numbers in 2017–18, along with those within the Western District and South Gippsland region, with remaining saleyards outside these areas generally posting decreases.

Ballarat recorded the highest throughput with 1.38 million sheep yarded, up 2.2% year-on-year. Bendigo followed with 1.02 million sheep, experiencing a solid increase of 16.7%. Hamilton had 1 million head yarded to remain firm on the previous year. Next was Horsham with 411,703 sheep yarded, easing slightly in volume, while Swan Hill also decreased slightly with a total throughput of 204,121 consignments.

Ouyen decreased a reasonable amount to yard 163,223 head, while Shepparton increased slightly, yarding 103,027 head. Warracknabeal reached 98,979 consignments, representing a slight decrease, as Wycheproof posted a minor increase of 87,500 head. Bairnsdale yarded 35,000 head, representing a decrease of 19.6% for total throughput from the results of the previous survey.

SA – Slight decrease in consignments

Over one million sheep were yarded in SA for the 2017–18, although numbers were back on the previous year, decreasing 3.6%. SALE Dublin had the highest throughput, representing just under 50% of the states total throughput, with 524,357 head. Naracoorte yarded 415,706 head, and Mount Gambier 145,302 head.

WA – Closing in on 1.5 million head of sheep yarded

Sheep saleyard throughput was just shy of 1.5 million head in WA in 2017–18, with 1.49 million head yarded, an increase of 14.2% year-on-year. The largest number of sheep went to Katanning, where throughput reached 829,880 head, up 136,529 head on last financial year. Muchea yarded 655,241 sheep, representing an increase of 47,626 head year-on-year.

TAS – Sheep baseline set for saleyards

In 2017-18, Powranna & Killafaddy had the largest throughput, totalling 81,030 head. Quoiba, saw a total of 20,200 head.

More information:

Brendan Wade, NLRS Livestock Market Officer Manager
Email Brendan Wade

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