The signs may have been there for a while. Significant drops in the volume of aviary birds & poultry being dropped off for sale. A few years back the place was so crowded it was hard to see what you were bidding on. Lately you could fire a shotgun in there with only avian casualties.
The cheques were taking longer and longer to arrive in our mailbox. I worried the place was teetering on the edge & tried to support it by selling what I could there. Like many Hawkesbury-based breeders of poultry and aviary birds, we need a place for a guaranteed sale, without the hassle and security risk of selling on Gumtree. We also need somewhere to auction male poultry, with females being easy and more profitable to sell privately. Personally I have been buying and selling poultry at McGrath's Hill Auctions since around 1995, albeit there have been management changes since then.
Hoping to deliver quite a few large roosters on Friday 16th November 2018, we drove past the saleyards to find it locked up, with the above cryptic sign on the gate. Someone appears to be thumbing his nose at his creditors. Their Facebook page was pulled down the same day.
I tried again this morning, only to find numerous disgruntled sellers at the still-locked gates, with cars full of birds, all trying to work out what had, in fact happened. People had driven from as far away as Mudgee and Singleton, only to have to return home with a cage full of poultry which were probably eye-wateringly stinky by that point.
The person leasing the place had shot through to escape his debt-ridden operation, including allegedly taking all his suppliers stockfeeds, plus fittings such as the landlord's poultry cages with him. A significant number of people may have been negatively impacted & are owed money, including potentially hundreds of breeders, stockfeed suppliers, and the landlord.
Amongst the mallay at the gate, I met a delightful and "salt of the earth" breeder of hand raised Australian parrots who had unexpectedly been hospitalised last week. He recounted to me how his unplanned surgery had prevented him from delivering his valuable birds the week prior to the business collapse.
I had a cheque from this operation floating around in my car for two weeks before I finally banked it last Friday. I'm not expecting it to clear.
For those who need to sell urgently, there is an auction at Hawkesbury Showground next weekend, 25 November 2018. Birds need to be dropped off on Saturday 24 November.
Here's hoping that McGraths Hill Poultry auctions reopens shortly with a more professional lessee. The local community really needs it.
Thank you to the Steward Frank, who's lost his job. He was always professional and nice to me.