Meat & Livestock News

Closure of Major Victorian Cattle Saleyard Announced for Mid-2024

heads of black and white holstein cows feeding on grass in stable in holland

The Victorian Livestock Exchange (VLE) announced the closure of its Pakenham cattle sale yard, Victoria’s fourth largest by throughput, in June 2024. The decision, driven by escalating land taxes and rates at its Melbourne eastern metropolitan fringe location, marks a significant shift in the region’s livestock trading landscape.

The Pakenham facility, handling about 100,000 store and prime cattle annually, has been a central trading hub for livestock from Gippsland, Yarra Valley, and the Mornington Peninsula. Brian Paynter, Managing Director of VLE, cited the unexpected and substantial increase in council rates and land taxes as key factors in the decision.

The financial viability of the sale yard became untenable, leading to this unavoidable closure.

The Pakenham Victorian Livestock Exchange, operational since February 1999, was Australia’s first privately owned, fully-roofed, soft-floored, multi-agent, modern livestock exchange.

It replaced the Dandenong saleyards and, before that, the 130-year-old Newmarket Saleyards in Flemington. The closure of these facilities was similarly influenced by urban expansion.

Local agents, such as Dave Setchers from Alex Scott & Co, Pakenham, expressed surprise and disappointment at the announcement. The closure is seen as a significant loss for the region, displacing a large number of cattle and impacting local farmers and traders.

Plans for the future of the Pakenham site are still under discussion, with some materials potentially being used to upgrade the VLE’s Leongatha Livestock Exchange at Koonwarra.

The hope is to redirect much of the cattle trade to Leongatha, although concerns about increased transport costs and the shift towards direct selling, away from the auction system, have been raised.

In response to the closure, there has been renewed interest in a private agent-led proposal for a new sale yard at Longwarry, approved by the Baw Baw Council in 2020 but disrupted by the COVID pandemic. 

Additionally, Regional Livestock Exchange (RLX), another major sale yard operator, has stated its commitment to developing modern livestock facilities in strategic locations, though it did not comment specifically on the Pakenham closure.

The closure of the Pakenham sale yard is a significant event in Victoria’s agricultural sector, reflecting the ongoing challenges of urbanisation and economic viability in livestock trading.