ADVERSE weather and low food and water supplies have been blamed for a drop in sales at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange last financial year, with many farmers selling directly to abattoirs.
The bad market conditions meant farmers stopped taking on extra stock, forcing those attempting to thin herds to sell cheaply to packed slaughterhouses.
Despite this, the Casino saleyard's operating result was still better than Richmond Valley Council expected, according to a report prepared by Ryan Gaiter from the council.
The exchange had a 93.1% drop in bobby calf (newborns) sales and a 3.5% drop in grown cattle sales in 2013/14 when compared to 2012/13.
Mayor Ernie Bennett said the market for calves was poor because meat manufacturers "are not wanting to kill small bobby calves so people have to find other ways of disposing of them".
Calf sales dropped from a six-year high of 1759 in 2008/9 to just 40 in 2013/14, while grown cattle sales dropped from a six-year high of 129,414 in 2009/10 to 92,944 in 2013/14.
When compared to 2012/13, calf sale numbers were down 537 head and grown cattle sales were down 3296.
Council meeting documents say: "Prolonged drought conditions throughout Queensland and Northern New South Wales, the onset of winter and feed and water in low supply, are the main contributing factors to the lower throughput at the saleyards, with farmers consigning direct to abattoirs".
The saleyard's operating result was a $90,970 deficit including depreciation, against an adopted deficit of $208,500, while surplus for the year was $109,138 against the anticipated year-end cash result of $9800 surplus.
Cr Bennett said: "If the market improves considerably with this good rainfall you'll see quite an increase in price."
He hoped to see sale numbers rise up to about 115,000 in coming years.