Saleyards shut up shop after a big year

SALEYARDS are shutting down for the Christmas season this week, with National Livestock Reporting Service (NRLS) also wrapping up for 2023.

Staff Writer
 Saleyards are shutting down for Christmas after a big year. Picture Mark Saunders.

Saleyards are shutting down for Christmas after a big year. Picture Mark Saunders.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) said the final price report will be published on Wednesday, with the last sales of the year to be hosted this week, and will return with when saleyards crank up again in the new year.

The final National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) slaughter report will be published on Thursday, covering the slaughter figures from the week of 11 December and will return in the new year, covering processers as they come back online after the break.


MLA senior market information analyst, Erin Lukey, said saleyards will return in the first two weeks of 2024, with New South Wales set to host its first sheep sale in Guyra on Wednesday 3 January and cattle sales to commence on Thursday 4 January in Armidale and Yass. Lukey said Griffith sheep and SLEX Yass cattle will also run in the first week of 2024, with other NSW saleyards back on board in week two.

The first Queensland sale will run in Blackall on Wednesday, 3 January, with most QLD saleyards to return the following week.

The first sales of the year for Victoria will be held on Wednesday 3 January in Hamilton (sheep) and Leongatha (cattle), with the rest to commence over the following weeks in January.

In South Australia, Mount Gambier will host cattle and sheep on Wednesday 3 January, with the rest to follow in week two of the new year. 

Tasmania's Powranna will open on Tuesday 9 January and in Western Australia Mt Barker will return on Thursday 4 January, with Katanning and Muchea running the following week.

Find the full saleyard closure schedule here.


NLRS data shows cattle yardings totalled 2,142,446 for the year (up to 15 December 2023), across all saleyards. This compared to 1,830,653 in 2022 and 2,043,026 in 2021, with the 10 year average (excluding 2023) 2,607,009.

Roma in QLD recorded the largest total yardings for the year at 242,177, compared to its 20-year record of 375,101 set in 2015. Dalby, QLD, recorded the second highest total yardings for the year of 195,823 (compared to its record of 273,223) and Dubbo, NSW, recorded total yardings of 187,617 (compared to its record of 225,425).

Roma topped the largest cattle yardings in a week at 9756 on 9 May, 8650 on 25 July and 8330 on 4 July. Over the past 20 years, Roma's largest weekly yardings record was set 13,206 on the week of 4 May 2014.

The week of 10 December was the largest week across all saleyards in 2023 with 85,716 yardings, compared to 73,036 on 17 December and 62,254 on 7 May.


Sheep yardings totalled 3,890,030 for the year (up to 15 December 2023), with lambs totalling 9,041,389 to hit a combined total of 12,904,419. This compared to a combined total of 11,314,367 in 2022 and 13,098,804 in 2021, with the 10-year average for lambs and sheep (prior to 2023) 13,673,097.

Wagga, NSW, recorded the largest total sheep yardings at 644,100, followed by Dubbo, NSW, at 408,876 and CVLX Ballarat at 385,425. Comparatively, since 2000 the largest total sheep yarding reported by NLRS was 996,679 at Midland, Western Australia, in 2000.

Wagga, NSW, recorded three largest weekly yardings across all saleyards at 40,000 for the week of 13 March, 28,000 for the week of 11 December and 27,400 for the week of 14 December. This compares to record of 111,257 sheep yarded in a single week on 15 October 2000 at South Australian Livestock Exchange.

The week of 10 December was the largest across all salyards  in 2023, with 152,700 sheep yarded. The second largest week was 12 March at 131,772, followed by the week of 17 December at 128,598.


This year Wagga set a 20-year record for the largest total lamb yardings at 1,732,970 (up until 15 December 2023). CVLX Ballarat recorded the second highest lamb yardings for the year at 1,119,313, followed by Forbes at 923,280.

Last week Hamilton topped the largest week for lamb yardings in 2023 at 94,000, and also recorded the second and third largest weeks of any saleyard this year at 76,925 on 11 December and 64,500 on 4 December. Hamilton holds the historical record for the most lambs yarded in a week at 105,495 set on 18 December 2016.

Overall, the largest weeks for yardings were the week of 17 December at 341,579, week of 10 December at 294,368 and week of 29 October at 243,722.

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