Huntly Epsom Lions Club chicken sale seeks new roost

Bendigo’s poultry auction, which has been raising tens of thousands of dollars for local charities over the last 23 years, has been left homeless after failing to meet council regulations.

The monthly sale at the Bendigo Livestock Exchange is run by volunteers from the Huntly/Epsom Lions Club with support from Strathfieldsaye Scouts and the Golden City Pipe Band. Huntly/Epsom Lions Club president Geoff Lawry said the sale would not be able to continue unless it found a new home.

The saleyards are not set up for poultry and both the club and City of Greater Bendigo agree this is the main problem.

City of Greater Bendigo’s director of presentation and assets Darren Fuzzard said the chook sale was jeopardising the saleyards’ accreditation. 

“For us to operate that livestock exchange we have to have the national saleyards quality assurance standard,” he said.

“In May it was identified the condition of the yard where the chook sales happen wasn’t satisfactory because of the sales.

“We are not against them doing their chook sale, but we have to have things done in modern standards.

“All of it relates to welfare of animals. Making sure you have water available all of the time. Making sure you have processes to determine which animals are in good health and which aren’t, so you don’t have animals suffering.

“We also need to make sure there is no prospect of disease transfer between animals which is a significant risk at a livestock exchange.

“It’s not a risk we can take on behalf of the community.”

The Lions Club can’t meet the saleyards’ strict regulations as it doesn’t have the manpower.

Mr Fuzzard said the council had been working with the club to help it find another site instead. 

“We want to help them as much as we can,” he said.

“We understand there’s only so many resources they have in their club.”

Mr Lawry said he had looked at other venues but the sale required very specific facilities.

“I talked to the showgrounds, but they said they couldn’t have it there on a monthly basis,” he said.

The chook sales can get about 400 people coming along to look at more than 2000 birds.

The Lions Club makes between $600 and $1900 profit each month, which is spent on community initiatives.

“If this is stopped we would have to find another way to raise all that money,” Mr Lawry said.

“That’s a lot of sausage sizzles.”

Mr Lawry said several people relied on the poultry auction for their business as well.

“We don’t want to close the poultry auction down, not only because it’s a fundraiser for us, but because there will be no other outlet for people to sell their birds, and for people to buy them.”

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