CATTLE markets across the Fleurieu Peninsula are set for a major shake-up as Elders and Landmark disband their weekly Thursday prime market at Strathalbyn in favour of Wednesday's sale at Mount Compass.
The move comes after years of discussions among Elders, Landmark and Pro Stock and in the wake of a period of declining cattle numbers through the Strathalbyn prime sale, which some agents estimate has halved in the past five years.
It will see Elders and Landmark join Pro Stock, Callery Livestock, Parken Livestock, FP Ag, Quality Livestock and the Combined Independent Agents Association as sellers at the Wednesday morning sale as of August 7, while Pro Stock will take up a selling position at the Strathalbyn store sales.
Elders Strathalbyn and Victor Harbor branch manager Paul Clifford said it was not a decision taken lightly.
"But we all think it's in the best interest of producers and buyers, as well as the survival of the prime sales full stop," he said.
"We'd like to think that by concentrating the prime cattle to Mount Compass, every agent on the Fleurieu is pushing the same wheelbarrow and that we can create a vibrant market here."
Mr Clifford said although the parties involved were competing against each other, they were better off working together.
Landmark Strathalbyn's Bradley Walker said the ailing Strathalbyn prime sale was not alone in the challenges it faced.
"Every saleyard has got its challenges in things such as finding new buyers," he said.
"You look at all the successful saleyards, they're all multi-agent sales feeding off each other."
Since sending out letters to clients informing them of the new arrangement, agents have reported that feedback has been generally positive, while some had been cynical.
Although the struggling beef market has accelerated the decision, numbers at the Strathalbyn prime sale have been on the decline for a while.
Landmark Strathalbyn livestock account manager Richard Snoswell said one of the advantages in selling at Mount Compass was the infrastructure.
"One of the pluses that has always come back to us from vendors in favour of the Mount Compass yards has been the soft flooring and the fact it is under cover," he said.
"The other thing is selling in the ring where the weight is displayed before the cattle are sold, which is very popular for both vendors and buyers."
Elders territory sales manager Danny Reynolds said having one concentrated selling centre for prime cattle would increase the number of buyers, meaning better competition on cattle.
"Hopefully, it might attract some buyers from the South East," he said.
"Between here and Dublin, they can make up loads to send back, whereas before they wouldn't bother."
*Full report in Stock Journal, July 25 issue, 2013.