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Preparation prevents transport problems

08 March 2024

Beef producer, Jim Larkin. Image: Jane Phillips

For NSW beef producer Jim Larkin, successful cattle transport is all about preparation and working with your carrier ahead of the journey.

In fact, following his driver’s preparation advice meant Jim successfully sent 150 cows to Queensland over the 2018–19 drought without any issues – a journey of 12–13 hours.

“The carrier we were using at the time was a pretty experienced operator and was moving a hell of a lot of cattle in the dry,” Jim said.

“His suggestion to us was to bring the cows in like we normally would and put them on good quality hay and water.”

Jim usually loads cattle just on daylight, so the carrier also suggested pulling them off feed and water the night before transportation to give them a bit of time to empty out.

“The reason for that was we still had good strong cows weighing 650kg, but he said given the length of time they’re on the truck, it could get too slippery and if one of those big cows goes down, there is limited chance for him to get them up.

“For these slaughter jobs, we’ll pull them off feed and water 10–12 hours before trucking just to make that trucking process a bit easier for the carriers.”

Fortunately, Jim said that all the cattle travelled well on the journey to Queensland, fit on the kill grid and showed no bruising.

“We’d always ring the truck driver of an evening to make sure they’d got up there alright and that there were no issues with the cattle,” Jim said.

Trucking an average of 300 cattle a year, Jim regularly sends consignments of MSA Angus cattle to the JBS abattoir in Scone, most recently sending dry and cull cows and bulls.

Jim said he has a few preferred carriers who look after the cattle and share his preference for low-stress handling. He highlighted the importance of using operators you’re comfortable with, who do a good job and have the animals’ interests at heart.

“Most of the carriers now are fantastic – that’s how they make their living. They’re looking at getting the quality animals you’ve produced to the destination in the best condition.

“I think the industry has gone ahead well in that area.”