WITH more than 500 cattle crushes on back order, an Australian manufacturer says locally-made cattle crushes are clearly returning to popularity despite being more expensive than their imported counterparts.
From a manufacturing base in the small town of Goombungee near Toowoomba, family-owned business Leicht’s Country Industries Australia employs over 40 staff and makes crushes and other livestock handling equipment for customers all over Australia and internationally.
As he was busy setting up Leicht’s trade display for this week’s CRT Farmfest Field Days near Toowoomba this morning, representative John O’Reilly told Beef Central that manufacturers of Australian-made gear had enountered a massive competitive threat from cheaper imported products in recent years.
In some cases imported crushes were selling for just 30 percent of the price of locally produced products.
After a tough period there were only a “couple of us left” selling Australian made, Australian steel products, he said.
However, he said that after having tried less expensive imported units, producers were now returning to locally made equipment.
Mr O’Reilly said the company currently has about 500 crushes on back order, and is working over time to keep pace with demand.
This he attributed to two things in particular: the strong Australian cattle prices in recent years, but also the returning desire for Australian made quality and equipment safety.
“The rest import theirs from overseas but the quality is not there, people have been down that track and now they’re coming back in droves,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“People want something they can rely on, not to be buying something every two or three years because it doesn’t work and lets go and is dangerous.”
“The biggest problem we have in this industry is that there are no rules or regulations on manufacturing, anybody can go and make a crush and throw it on the market.
“The Chinese can come and take a photo and go back to China and copy it, and bingo, it is out on the market place.
“They have copied a couple of ours and they’re about one third of the price, but they just don’t work.”
Mr O’Reilly said the large number of back orders means it will take about six months to deliver each order.
Leichts CIA is hoping the Toowoomba Regional Council will support it in its its plans to build a second manufacturing shed so it can increase its production capacity and reduce the delivery time for back orders.
“We’re trying to build a second shed and having talks with council to try and get a hurry up and get it happening, we could put on another 15 or 20 guys or girls straight away if that happens,” Mr O’Reilly said.
He said one of the most popular crushes currently on order was the Immobiliser crush which can be operated by a single user.