The much anticipated $8 million redevelopment of the Inverell Regional Livestock Exchange (IRLX) has officially begun, with site operations manager Steven O’Brien breaking ground on the project on Wednesday, November 14.
“It’s a great day for the community and local area as a whole,” Mr O’Brien said.
“We’re well underway to getting a new facility up and running. It has been a long time coming.”
Key components of the upgrades will be new undercover soft floor selling pens, expanded selling and feeding areas and a drive through truck-wash facility.
Earthworks have begun on the redevelopment, which is expected to be finished mid-way through 2019. Initial work includes constructing additional holding and feed yards. Tenders will soon be called for various aspects of the project, with a preference for local contractors.
Mr O’Brien said the changes would lead to a significant improvement in animal welfare and staff safety.
“They’ll be on a soft floor the night before they’re sold and while they’re sold, back into clean water delivery yards with access to feed bunks; and (with) the staff there’ll be a number of improvements to operational activities to remove the interaction between staff and animals on the ground to a large degree,” he said.
“It’s a big win-win for occupational health and safety, and animal welfare.”
Director of Frame Rural Agencies Philip Frame said the soft floors and covers will also be a positive for vendors, preventing cattle shrinkage.
“Especially in the winter here when it’s really cold and they’re on concrete, they shrink a bit. But on soft floors with the top over them, it’ll be a lot warmer for them, so the cattle will present better,” he said.
AAM Investment Group managing director Garry Edwards said the redevelopment would deliver a modern facility “that will underpin the region’s livestock industry for decades to come”.
“(It will) deliver improved animal presentation and marketability leading to increased buyer competition and greater profitability for the regions producers,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said it was hard to put an exact figure on the expected increase in numbers, but suggested it could be as high as 25 per cent. He said employment opportunities were “definitely on the cards” as IRLX hopes to draw more cattle to the facility and hold additional sale days.
Mr Frame said Inverell can expect to see more cattle from Moree, Goondiwindi, Texas, Glen Innes and Tenterfield once the redevelopment is finished.
“The buyers want them all in one place in one day, not five days of selling in little places. It’ll be a big plus for the Inverell agents,” he said.