Saleyard survey state-by-state

The results are in from MLA’s annual saleyard survey, which identifies the total number of cattle and sheep consigned to Australia’s saleyards over the course of a financial year.

View the full saleyard survey report


New South Wales

Throughput of cattle via NSW saleyards decreased by 8.3% in 2019–20, dropping from 1.6 million head in 2018–19 to 1.5 million head.

One of the warmest, driest years on record in Australia over the course of 2019 was clearly impactful in the north-east of the state, where New England selling centres saw a significant decrease in throughput. This was attributed to already low herd numbers and the continued effects of the drought. Coastal areas of northern NSW saw an increase in numbers through saleyards as the ‘very much below average’ rainfall and tough seasonal conditions continued into early 2020.

Wagga Wagga was the saleyard with the highest throughput in NSW for 2019–20 with a 10.1% increase in numbers to 190,150 head. A year-on-year decrease of 19.6% to 155,770 head saw the Dubbo saleyard shift into second position, followed by CTLX Carcoar with a throughput of 144,900 head, an increase of 4.1%.

The centres of Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Armidale all also felt the effects of the drought and saw large decreases in throughput, with reductions of 70.6%, 43.0%, 57.3% and 59.1%, respectively. The 70.6% reduction at Glen Innes saw throughput numbers decrease from 28,170 in 2018–19 to just 8,290 in 2019–20. Armidale yarded 24,980 head, down from 61,120 in 2018–19.

Numbers at Grafton substantially improved on the previous year to 50,960 head, an increase of 40.7%. Casino also saw throughput numbers lift, recording 131,930 head in 2019–20, up 32.1% from 99,890 head from the previous financial year.


The annual MLA saleyard survey indicates that 1.3 million cattle where consigned to saleyards across Queensland during 2019–20, an increase of 3.3% year-on-year.

Roma remained the largest selling centre in the country during 2019–20, yarding 275,260 head, down 13.7% year-on-year. The below-average season over a number of years in western Queensland has seen producers liquidating their herds, resulting in lower throughput. Numbers into the centre may be soft for a period of time until a rebuild eventuates. Higher proportions of cattle going to processors and feeders in particular were seen in 2020, with restocker activity dropping away.

Dalby followed Roma, with 236,250 head yarded, easing slightly along with other Darling Downs centres. Throughput at Warwick decreased 18.7% to 56,940 head, while Toowoomba yarded 27,900 head, a 28.1% reduction.

Numbers increased by 11.7% at Gracemere to 140,770 head while Emerald yarded 95,090 head, a 2.8% increase year-on-year. The central Queensland markets remained consistent, with extra store sales over the drought attracting additional numbers from the region.

Numbers increased 125% at Blackall to 99,160 head. This can be partially attributed to Blackall shifting to a weekly sale (previously fortnightly), as well as large numbers heading to restockers, with southern demand pulling cattle down and substantial numbers still heading to feedlots and processors.


1.06 million cattle were consigned to Victorian saleyards during 2019–20, which is a minor decrease of 0.8% year-on-year. In general, saleyards located the furthest from Melbourne, especially to the north, saw the greatest decrease in numbers.

Once again, NVLX Wodonga recorded the highest cattle throughput for the state with 183,570 head, an increase of 4.3% year-on-year and representing approximately 17.2% of Victoria’s overall yardings.

Leongatha again followed Wodonga, this time recording 143,440 head in 2019–20, up 3.3% from 138,850 head the previous year. Pakenham also saw a small increase of 3.6%, yarding 122,140 head, followed closely by Shepparton with 97,440 head, down 8.4% year-on-year. Numbers at Warrnambool and Mortlake both increased, with Warrnambool yarding 78,440 head for a 9.3% increase and Mortlake yarding 64,830 head for a 6.1% increase.

GRLE Sale experienced a considerable decline of 32.1% over 2019–20, yarding 18,550 head. Casterton also declined, dropping 31.2%, while and Kyneton decreased 23.5% year-on-year. Swan Hill also saw a decrease in numbers from 24,980 head in 2018–19 falling 20.2% to 19,930 head during 2019–20.

South Australia

Total cattle throughput for SA saleyards increased 7.4% year-on-year from 238,240 in 2018–19 to 255,760 head in 2019–20.

The selling centre with the largest throughput identified via the survey was Naracoorte, with 88,570 head yarded, an increase of 5.9%. Mount Gambier saw only a minor decrease of 3.7% to yard 77,550. Mount Compass registered a large increase, with 66,460 head yarded, followed by Dublin with 23,160 head, up 4.7%.

Western Australia

WA cattle throughput again remained similar year-to-year, with a minor decrease of only 0.2% identified.

Muchea had the highest number of consignments with a total yarding of 96,620 head, followed by Boyanup with 86,340 head. Mt Barker yarded 75,940 head.


Tasmanian saleyards experienced steady declines in throughput year on year, down 38.4%. Please note breakdown of saleyard cannot be provided.


New South Wales

The number of sheep consigned in NSW saleyards in 2019–20 was 7.29 million head, down 1.26 million head on 2018–19 levels and a 14.7% decrease year-on-year.

The survey shows the saleyards with the largest decreases in sheep numbers were primarily located in the New England area, with Tamworth, Guyra, Inverell and Glen Innes all seeing large reductions in throughput. Wagga Wagga and West Wyalong both saw an increase in numbers, with almost all other saleyards in the Murrumbidgee and Central West regions reporting decreases.

As was the case in 2018–19, Wagga Wagga again had the highest total throughout with 2.03 million sheep yarded in 2019–20, up 15.7% year-on-year, supporting Wagga’s reputation as the largest selling centre for sheep in the country.

Forbes followed Wagga with 1.11 million head penned, followed with Dubbo which recorded 802,090 head. Both of these sites recorded substantial throughput decreases of over 25% year-on-year, Wagga down 27.8% and Dubbo down 29.7% SELX Yass saw a decrease in throughput of 16% in 2019–20 for a total yarding of 722,550, followed by Corowa with 674,300, down 15.1%

Numbers lifted slightly at Carcoar to 410,900 head, an increase of 6.5% year-on-year, while throughput decreased at Griffith, who recorded 391,230 head. Cowra and Deniliquin both also reported reduced yardings – Cowra with 270,520 head and Deniliquin with 145,650 head, down 32.6%.

The New England selling centres of Tamworth, Guyra, Inverell and Glen Innes all recorded major decreases in throughput. The severe drought conditions over a number of years through to early 2020 were a major contributing factor to this decline. Tamworth was down 23.7% to 161,550 from 211,680 in 2018–19. Guyra yarded 88,370 head, down 55.8%. Inverell recorded 56,750 head, down 40%, while Glen Innes decreased 61.7% to 27,640 head in 2019–20, down from 72,140 in 2018–19.


Queensland yarded 88,010 head of sheep during 2019–20, down 22.3% year-on-year. Warwick was again the main selling centre, penning 87,840 head. Very small numbers were recorded at both Toowoomba and Moreton saleyards.


Total sheep throughput in Victoria exceeded 4.5 million head, a significant decrease of 11% for the state year-on-year, shifting back to numbers seen during 2017–18. All saleyards polled during both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 survey indicated a decrease in numbers penned.

Ballarat again recorded the highest throughput with 1.49 million sheep yarded, down 4% from 1.55 million head year-on-year. Bendigo followed with 1.04 million head, experiencing a decrease of 9.5%.

Hamilton yarded 977,590 head, decreasing by just 3.3%. Next was Horsham, penning 428,860 head, followed by Ouyen with 175,460 head, representing a significant decrease of 33.7% year-on year for Ouyen.

Swan Hill penned 169,890 head to be down 29.7% while Warracknabeal yarded 94,320 head. Numbers decreased by over 50% at Wycheproof, declining from 90,890 head to 44,620 in 2019–20. Shepparton also saw a large decrease 42.2%, yarding 43,140 head.

South Australia

Just over 1 million sheep were penned in SA during the 2019–20 financial year, equivalent to a decrease of 11.4% on 2018–19 numbers.

The largest numbers of sheep went to Naracoorte, where throughput reached 477,450 head to be up 6.6% year-on-year in 2019–20. Dublin, on the other hand, saw a decline of 25.4%, yarding 453,110 head, while Mount Gambier also declined by 8% with 111,840 head yarded.

Western Australia

Total throughput of sheep via WA saleyards declined 9.1% year-on-year, with 1.26 million head yarded during 2019–20.

Muchea penned 558,540 head, an increase of 3.5%. Katanning, with the largest number of sheep in WA, yarded 704,000 head, a decrease of 17.1% on 2018–19 numbers.


Tasmanian saleyards experienced a steady decline in sheep throughput year on year, down 24.9%. Please note breakdown of saleyard cannot be provided.

View the full saleyard survey report

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020

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