Katanning Regional Saleyards full in hot, dry trot

Zach RelphCountryman
Katanning Regional Saleyards manager Rod Bushell predicts the livestock centre’s sales to attract yardings “north of 20,000” head during the next six weeks.
Camera IconKatanning Regional Saleyards manager Rod Bushell predicts the livestock centre’s sales to attract yardings “north of 20,000” head during the next six weeks. Credit: Bob Garnant/Bob Garnant

The Great Southern’s premier saleyard is filling with livestock as farmers aim to reduce stocking densities to combat the harsh dry spell hampering WA’s south-east agricultural areas.

Processors are also reportedly packed with sheep and cattle amid the ongoing dry period, with producers fearing low water levels.

This year’s opening sale at the Katanning Regional Saleyards on January 9 yarded a whopping 22,131 sheep and lambs, before 9533 were penned at the facility on Wednesday last week.

Katanning Regional Saleyards manager Rod Bushell predicted the livestock centre’s sales could attract yardings “north of 20,000” head during the next six weeks.

He said yardings were usually buoyant in the new year, but this had been compounded by water shortages.

“We had a lot of big sales in the lead-up to Christmas,” Mr Bushell said.

“Historically, January and February are our stronger yarding months and I expect sales to draw big yardings up until the end of February.”

Six WA areas were declared water-deficient last year in the shires of Ravensthorpe, Lake Grace, Kent, Esperance and Jerramungup, with the State Government supplying emergency livestock water.

Before last year, the last time a WA water deficiency was declared was in 2011 at Salmon Gums, near Esperance. That declaration lasted two years.

Elders WA commercial sheep manager Dean Hubbard said the dry period was a big factor in the State’s elevated slaughter rates.

“We are experiencing our own problems with water and feed, so processing so far this year has been well above last year,” he said. “Given fodder availability and grain prices, a lot of sheep are being processed.”

Landmark livestock manager Leon Giglia echoed Mr Hubbard and said a lack of water and high feed prices remained an issue.

The Bureau of Meteorology this month confirmed 2019 was Australia’s warmest year since records started in 1910.

The bureau also reported it was WA’s warmest year and had the second-lowest recorded rainfall, with the South West Land Division experiencing “significant rainfall deficiencies”.

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