CONSTRUCTION of a $3.69 million roofing project at Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange has started.
A contract was awarded for the exchange's roofing project in September. Horsham council initially budgeted $3.030 million for the project, but the total cost increased to $3.692 million.
Ballarat-based company MKM Constructions submitted the cheapest tender at a cost of $3.498 million.
Site manager Paul Christopher said keeping the exchange running as an active saleyards during the build will be a challenge.
"The main challenge we've had for the last two weeks (at sales) is not having access to our agistment paddock and part of our scanning machines," he said.
"We knew about most of the challenges beforehand which is has enabled us to prepare. We've also been constantly consulting with our agents about what they can and can't do. They have been very understanding.
"There have been a lot of variables about what we can do with the changing, unpredictable weather too. We've been having meetings every Tuesday morning ahead of our Wednesday sales to plan."
Mr Christopher said the last two weeks had been quiet, with only 6500 and 4000 stock through respectively.
"It will be a challenge once it picks up later in the year," he said.
He said the project would comprise of five stages and will be finished in about 10 months. The project will include 100 kilowatt solar panels, LED lighting, and water reuse and fire service tanks.
The exchange is the state's fourth largest sheep and lamb market, with sales by auction averaging 500,000 animals each year.
Horsham council owns and operates the livestock exchange as a self-funding, discrete financial entity.
The exchange celebrated its 20th anniversary in December.
Lamb prices hard to predict
MR Christopher said it was difficult to predict whether lamb and sheep prices would increase due to the bushfires facing many parts of Australia.
"It all depends on supply and demand. Lamb season is starting to quieten down a fair bit," he said.
"A lot of our stock does go down to Melbourne and Gippsland to be slaughtered, so it will be interesting to see how the fires have affected that process."
Last year multiple lamb price records were broken across the country, including many at Horsham.
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