ELDERS Yarrawonga is yet to decide it if will stage a final sale at the town’s saleyards, which will be shut by Moira Council.
The council this week decided to close its sheep yards at Yarrawonga and cattle yards at Cobram due to declining numbers and rising maintenance costs.
Yarrawonga’s yards have been in free fall for a decade.
Sheep numbers have declined from 196,000 in 2002 to 37,000 in the 2011-12 financial year.
The traditional spring sales in October last year attracted a modest yarding of 6250 sheep compared with 8000 in the previous financial year and well down from 12,000 in its glory years in the 1970s.
Elders Yarrawonga branch manager Bert Tait said the closure was inevitable, but a decision would soon be made as to whether a feature final sale would be held in October.
“The disappointing thing is the Moira Shire, as big and as grand as what it is, hasn’t got a set of sheep or cattle yards in it now,” Mr Tait said.
“The sheep numbers have really declined right across the board.
“The rural scene has changed dramatically.
“I’ve been in it for the past 40 years and the change has been gradual, but the past 10 years has been very quick.”
The recent drought sent sheep numbers spiralling downward and the Yarrawonga yards faced competition from larger selling centres including Corowa, Wagga and Bendigo.
Mr Tait said some producers also preferred direct selling from the paddock to abattoirs.
At its peak, Yarrawonga hosted a fortnightly prime lamb market and two special sheep sales in October and November. Cobram has cancelled four sales since June due to falling numbers with producers opting to head to Shepparton.
The Yarrawonga and Cobram saleyards committees of management will be wound up and expressions of interest called for the removal of yards and buildings.
The council will try to sell two electric loading ramps at the Yarrawonga yards.
Maintenance costs at Yarrawonga had risen to more than $3000 excluding power costs which were paid for by council.