LESS than 20 years since moving to its current location, the Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange will reach the milestone of 10 million sheep sold on Wednesday.
Site manager Paul Christopher said it was a great achievement in such a short amount of time.
“We’re averaging around 520,000 head through per year, which is something we can all be very proud of,” he said.
Horsham Rural City councillor and livestock exchange board chairman David Grimble said he expected the numbers to grow even more.
“We’ve had more than 600,000 some years,” he said.
“Although the region has trended more towards broadacre farming in recent years, the popularity of the livestock exchange shows that stock is still a very important part of farming in the Wimmera.”
Cr Grimble said Mr Christopher and his staff did a great job of maintaining and running the facility.
“Paul is very well regarded in the industry and we’re very lucky to have him on board; all the staff who work there are fantastic,” he said.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange moved from its Hamilton Street, Horsham site to its current location at Burnt Creek in 1999. The first sales were made at the new location on December 1 that year.
Livestock sales have been regular events in Horsham since the 1870s, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the city’s first saleyards were established.
By the 1990s, it was decided that the saleyards location in Horsham was too close to homes and businesses.
The newly amalgamated Horsham Rural City Council undertook a feasibility study to find a suitable alternative location.
The Saleyards Relocation Committee was established with the late Cr Bernie Dunn holding the title of chairman. It was decided that the Burnt Creek Road location was ideal for a new and improved livestock exchange.
Former Horsham councillor and Saleyards Relocation Committee member Bernard Gross was instrumental in finding the saleyards a new home out of town.
“The old location was very unsuitable because of the position and the ability to get trucks in and out,” he said.
“When the Arapiles, Wimmera and Horsham councils amalgamated, we saw it as an ideal time to get the project running. We were able to purchase land for the new location at Burnt Creek.
“It’s been a great success and those who were involved in its establishment can be very proud. Bernie Dunn was the chairman and had many state government connections that enabled us to get state government support.”
Mr Gross said the exchange had a great reputation in the region.
“People come from all around the state to it, because it’s a central location,” he said.
“It’s been a great venture and it will continue to serve the community for a long time into the future.”
Mr Christopher said many changes were made after the move.
“They went from having fortnightly sales to having a weekly sale,” he said.
“That was hugely successful. During those days, sheep had primarily been bred for wool production in the region, but they soon moved more into the sale of prime lamb.”
Many lamb price records have been broken since the start of the year. Last month, 34 white suffolk lambs from RK & LJ Koop, of Gymbowen, were sold at record price of $270 each.
“Lamb prices are continuing to go up. We’re a long way in front of last year which is really good,” he said.
“Numbers through are also continuing to grow. We hope that sellers continue to choose to use our saleyards. We always do our best to make the producers happy.”
Mr Christopher said there were many projects in the works to make the livestock exchange even better.
“Roofing the whole saleyards is going to be the next major project for us,” he said.
“It’s going to be great for both animal and human welfare. We will also be able to harvest the water from the roof to use in the truck wash.”
Cr Grimble said projects such as the roofing helped maintain the exchange’s good reputation among producers.
“The project is in the council’s budget and it will be a key advocacy priority for the state election,” he said.
“It will help improve animal welfare and will reduce the cleaning costs. It will also help bring us in line with industry standards.
“Most other saleyards around the state have done it, so it makes logical sense for us to follow them.”
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