It was once known as the stock selling centre of the south, but the gates at the Cootamundra Saleyards have been shut for good as the facility joins an "inevitable" trend of closures.
A decline in yarding numbers at the saleyards, coupled with the electronic identification changes adding financial pressure, have prompted the Cootamundra Associated Agents (CAA) to discontinue their fortnightly lamb and sheep sales.
Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council revealed the closure of the facility, which has operated for 93 years, last week after it was advised of the CAA's decision via letter.
The last sheep and lamb sale was held on January 31. Cattle have not been sold at the yards for some time.
The document said the number of sheep and lambs being sold at the site over the past few years had been declining and required individual electronic identification (IED) would place undue financial pressure on agents and suppliers.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is transitioning to mandatory IED for sheep and goats.
The Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council said it had been working with the DPI to gain a grant to implement IED at the saleyards.
All NSW saleyards will be required to have electronic identification in place by January 2025.
Mayor Charlie Sheahan said the letter from the Cootamundra selling agents had come as a surprise and he was saddened that market forces had forced them to abandon sales.
Cr Sheahan said the council would need to consider the future of the site and the infrastructure in place, with thousands of dollars spent maintaining and improving it over many years.
"Council is faced with escalating costs in maintenance, compliance, and managing the expectations of agents, buyers, and sellers. Council will consider all options regarding the site moving forward," Cr Sheahan said.
"It is the belief of the Cootamundra Associated Agents, that due to the very low sheep numbers coming into the yards, and the upcoming introduction of sheep tagging (IED), it is no longer financially viable to utilise the yards for the sale of stock."
Meat and Livestock Australia reported a final yarding of 1700 on January 31, made up of 1000 lambs and 700 sheep.
"The core group of buyers were operating and there was a larger than usual gallery looking on," MLA said.
NSW Farmers Wagga and District branch chairman Alan Brown said the decision to close the saleyards was part of an "inevitable" trend.
The Cootamundra Saleyards are not the first to fall victim to rising costs, low stock numbers and compliance, with some very large enterprises in Victoria and South Australia having recently closed, while saleyards in surrounding towns shut many years ago.
Mr Brown said saleyards in smaller towns had closed because they struggled to compete with those in major regional centres across the state.
"Cootamundra has been hurt by the opening of the Yass regional saleyard and their hurt by their proximity to Wagga," he said.
"They [saleyards from smaller regional centres] just can't compete because the bigger centres attract bigger numbers, and bigger numbers attract more buyers, which means more competition."
Mr Brown said the closure of the Cootamundra facility could force smaller farmers in the area to pay more for transport costs as they have to travel to Wagga to sell.
"They'll certainly face increased costs and they'll have to do things like share loads with other people," he said.
Mr Brown said while farmers would need to find a way to transport their stock, selling at larger centres could bring benefits.