BALLARAT'S new $21 million saleyard will be designed to enable more cattle and lambs to meet consumer eating quality standards.Palisade Investment Partners last week announced its subsidiary Regional Infrastructure Pty Ltd aimed to start construction of the Central Victorian Livestock Exchange at a Windermere site near Miners Rest in 2014, with the first sheep and sales held in 2015.
Livestock sold through traditionally-designed saleyards were often unable to meet the curfew and management criteria for eating quality grading systems such as Meat Standards Australia.
But Regional Infrastructure managing director Garry Edwards said the Central Victorian Livestock Exchange would be unique in Victoria.
"We're designing the yards to specifically cater for compliance with eating quality standard programs.
"So there will be better access to feed and water and shorter periods for stock being off water within a re-penning process to move livestock through the facility to make them compliant with eating quality programs," Mr Edwards said.
"We are actually investing money in redefining some protocols for meeting eating quality standards through saleyards and the elements around that.
"The existing standards have been based on traditional yards and this (new saleyard) will certainly be different to that," he said.
"We need to make sure we are providing a facility that can attract stock that can comply with those eating quality program requirements."
Regional Infrastructure's NSW saleyards had proven it was feasible to meet eating quality standards, Mr Edwards said.
"They've got to be soft floor facilities with better access to feed and water and you have got to try to reduce curfews."
Mr Edwards said the aim was for the Central Victorian Livestock Exchange to put through up to 50 per cent more livestock than the single-stand capacity of the existing Ballarat saleyards by allowing for re-penning - integral to improving the eating quality of stock.
Livestock sold through the new saleyard would be standing on a soft floor or dirt surface to minimise injury and stress.
Regional Infrastructure would aim to run more sales at the new facility - ideally three days a week initially versus the lamb-sheep and cattle sales over two days in a week in the current Ballarat saleyards.
"It is actually not cost efficient to double the size of the current facility.
"What we need to do is have it being used more days in a week," Mr Edwards said.
The 40 hectare-plus site for the new Ballarat saleyard, on the north-west corner of the intersection of the Western Highway and Sunraysia Highway, would be self-contained for all its water needs apart from its canteen requirements.
Water would be captured on rooves and from ground runoff for livestock needs, washing down yards and general maintenance. Stakeholders would be consulted on what parts of the complex would be roofed, but livestock receival and selling areas were usually under cover.
"This basically gets us away from needing potable water for the saleyards," Mr Edwards said
City of Ballarat Mayor John Burt said the council was eager to deliver a saleyards development for the Ballarat community and president of the Ballarat Stock and Station Agents Association Gerard White said agent input on design and capacity of the yards would be crucial to its success.
A series of community and stakeholder engagement sessions would be held early next year.
Regional Infrastructure still had plans to get two or three other saleyard projects up in Victoria, including at Warrnambool.
"We want to basically get this (Ballarat) project through the planning and development stage, but Warrnambool is certainly a project that we are looking at and we would like to complete somewhere in the next six to 12 months if we can.
"First of all we need to finalise agreement with councils and stock agents, and confirm their interest and obviously get past the point of being selected as the preferred proponent," he said.