SHEEP part 2

When V.J. Byrnes Auctioneer, after 23 years in business, built his own saleyards on the northern side of the Namoi river, the opening sale in January 1936 attracted a yarding of 45,000 sheep.
From 1935 onwards, Manilla developed into one of the foremost wool and sheep producing districts in New South Wales, due mainly to the merino flock sheep ewe competition conducted by the Upper Manilla Agricultural Bureau for several years; the Manilla Show; and the Manilla Ram sales. These all had a vital effect in breeding better types of sheep and producing higher class wool. The land around was well suited to the production of long wool sheep and fat lambs.

Wool Bales leaving "Everton" 1933

Long-haired Lincoln Ram 

 Lincoln Ewe c.1931

By 1939, Manilla had become the 'premier stock selling centre in the north of New South Wales with the largest and most up-to-date set of stockyards north of Sydney.' 
Three-quarters of a million sheep were sold here between March and December 1939 - a record for any one office in Australia, outside the capital cities. Over 100,000 of these were sold in Queensland and total sales averaged over 3,200 per day. 

Within one week in February, 1949, the turnover from stock sales at Manilla yards exceeded £60,000, one sheep sale realising £49,600. 
From 1950 on, wool and sheep prices boomed to incredible heights. District wool sold from 200 to 300 pence per pound, breeding ewes from £20 to £30 per head, and young woolcutters the same.
Shearing rates increased dramatically, as did the cost of shearing accessories such as combs and cutters, grinding papers, blowfly oil, dips and drenches.
Wool was priced out of competition with synthetics, and so the inevitable slump came and prices fell as dramatically as they had risen. The price of wool and stock were the only things to slump as all labour and shearing accessories continued to rise, so throwing a severe financial strain on the pastoral economy.

One section of Manilla district which was formerly given over to sheep and used to truck three to four thousand bales of wool from Manilla, went entirely over to cattle and by the late 1960s, less than 1,000 bales of wool were grown in the district. By 1970, many farmers had gone out of sheep entirely in favour of beef, and when the slump came, they were left high and dry. Cattle that had been bringing $250 per head a few months before now sold for $30 and $40 per head. Many professional tradesmen who bought properties at high prices during the booms, found themselves in the position of having to go back to their trade or find work at the white asbestos mine at Woodsreef, leaving women and children to look after and run the property. In many cases women also went back to work, perhaps as teachers or nurses, to supplement farm incomes.

Unloading Sheep "Yackatoon" Manilla C. 1960S



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Images: Manilla Community Archive unless otherwise stated.
Text Edits: ©Diana Nichol  2000-2020   E: |

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