Operators handling the task which was formerly one which was simply that of getting livestock to the saleyards or abattoir now have to look at the broader picture. The work is now fraught with a wide array of regulatory and compliance issues.
Gone is the ‘she’ll be right’ method of running a business. Not only are the issues of driver competence, fatigue, safety and well-being paramount, but ensuring all vehicles on the road comply with the rules around the task they are handling is also vital.
On top of all of this are the animal welfare expectations which are paramount in the livestock transport game. These concerns are also very important for the consignor and the consignee, but the transport between the two parties is the most visible in the supply chain, and the one where issues can often occur.
It takes a different kind of person to work in this sector of the transport industry. People working in the livestock transport game are often an animal person first and a truckie second. This is an important part of the culture in this sector of the transport industry.
Athol Carter, Compliance Manager at Frasers Transport, has a broad remit working in the operation. He has a regional role working across all of the depots in the operation. There are 50 trucks operating with over 150 trailers involved. Then there is the wide range of subcontractors also handling tasks for the operation.
The role sees Athol working in saleyards, in operations, running a depot, driving a truck and then meeting with clients and also dealing with national and state industry associations. His job involves him with the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, as well as the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Queensland, plus the Queensland and Australian Trucking Associations. Added to that, Athol also sits on the board of Trucksafe.
“In the compliance team, we have four people, but I suppose every employee is part of that team,” says Athol. “Everyone needs to be involved, all working towards that common goal.”
All drivers go through an induction process and there is an annual refresher program for everyone. This gives Athol’s team a chance to catch everyone up on developments in the past year and keep them informed about what is new in the industry.
“If I look at the last four years in livestock transport, there’s a change every day. Whether that is major or minor and looking at road transport in Australia as a whole. With the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator there’s some great tools and resources out there and there are always things which pop up which we haven’t thought about before.
“One of the things we have to talk about, as an industry and be ready for, is animal activism. The driver is the front line of our business, so it’s all about sharing our information with them. We have to give them the awareness of what’s out there and what’s likely to happen.
“It’s a common issue anywhere in Australia in an animal transport situation. It’s been around for quite a while and it’s here to stay. But livestock transport in Australia is here to stay, as well, and we have a great story to tell and we need to tell that story.”
One of the more delicate issues which effects all livestock transporters, who want to look at the broader picture is ensuring the animals are correctly prepared before being picked up by a truck. The rules around the required time off food and water before transport are well known, but it is difficult to ensure the rules have been met from the truck driver’s point of view.
The issue of effluent flowing out of trailers onto the road is an ongoing issue in livestock transport. Frasers has fitted tanks to capture effluent in its trailers in an effort to sort out the issue. Efforts are now being made to lobby for suitable facilities in which to dump the effluent from the tanks.