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Dalby saleyards set for $12m upgrade

by James Nason, 06 March 2012

The redevelopment of one of Queensland’s largest cattle selling centres will be fast-tracked following a $5 million injection of funds by the State Government this week.

The grant will combine with funding committed by the Western Downs Regional Council in its budget last year to deliver a $12 million overhaul to the Dalby Saleyards.

The funds mean a redevelopment of the existing yards can be completed within the next two years – the only issue now is for key stakeholders to reach a firm agreement on what to spend the funds on.

In announcing the funding last Friday minister for Local Government Paul Lucas said the redevelopment will involve lighting improvements, improved receival and weighing facilities, automated drafting systems, new sale pens, soft flooring and NLIS identification system upgrades.

The upgraded facility would also be entirely undercover.

However those details are still subject to costings, with agents, producers and council staff to meet at the saleyards discuss the issue next week. There they will hear updated development proposals and likely quotes from Brisbane based engineering firm Wiley, which oversaw redevelopment work at the JBS plant at Dinmore several years ago.

Building a roof would be the major expense, and a decision on whether that will proceed is likely to come down to cost.

The Central West Livestock Exchange at Forbes in NSW, which has a capacity of 3000 head of cattle, approximately half the capacity of the Dalby yards, spent $6.2 million on the construction of a roof as part of a state-of-the-art redevelopment six years ago.

Dalby sold 186,000 cattle in 2010-11, making it the third largest cattle handling facility in Queensland behind Roma (314,760 head) and Cloncurry (198,706 head – Cloncurry is primarily a tick clearing and livestock transit centre) last financial year, and the fourth-largest nationally behind Dubbo (203,373).

Queensland minister for local government Paul Lucas said the Dalby saleyards was an integral component of the state’s $4billion per year cattle industry.

"We know that Dalby is strategically located on the junction of the Warrego, Moonie and Bunya Highways which means there is no back tracking of stock," Mr Lucas said.

“The current saleyards have served Dalby well but are open air which means they are easily affected by weather.

“The Western Downs is an important agricultural hub and it’s important the facilities match the importance of the industry.

The $5 million for the project is part of the $45 million Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program.

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