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Sheep market cancelled as farmers make the most of great season

Lauren Waldhuter, Friday July 18, 2014 - 13:07 EST
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Landmark and Elders solely operate and own the yards however independent agents want a slice of the action and are calling for more agent competition at the monthly sales. - ABC

One of the best seasons in living-memory for South Australian sheep producers, has seen a regular sheep market cancelled for the first time in decades.

The Jamestown Market is the main sale for farmers in the north and west of the state, but with ample feed around farmers aren't selling any sheep.

Landmark auctioneer Don Cullen says he hasn't seen a market cancelled in the 14 years he's been involved.

"There's more people out there trying to buy sheep than trying to sell sheep," Mr Cullen said.

"We're actually finding we're looking at sheep further afield into New South Wales and Queensland to have a crack at them and ease the feed burden.

"We've got ample feed and not enough stock."

Sandy Martin, from Baratta Station, says he hasn't seen the paddocks looking this good since the late 1980s.

"I don't think you'd see the country in better condition at this time of the year," Mr Martin said.

"It's that advanced that you'd probably think it's the first week in September."

Farmers in the low-rainfall region are used to tough conditions and Mr Martin says this often means they have to de-stock.

"In 2012, the season cut off in the spring and then it didn't rain from the end of September to May 2013.

"The ewes were probably down in condition and didn't join, which created bad lambing percentages last year.

"Then we had a really hot summer and a lot of people ran out of water and sold a lot of stock."

He says this year lambing percentages are up, and with 'feed up to your knees' farmers are holding onto their sheep.

Controversy has surrounded the Jamestown saleyards, which only sell sheep from Landmark and Elders.

Some groups say independent companies should also be allowed to sell.

Mr Martin says this would be a good thing for buyers and sellers.

"It creates more competition and would be better off for everyone.

"It would make more money, everyone's happy and it would be better off for the whole marketing system of the sheep sale job."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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