An­i­mal wel­fare tops agenda

Big Rigs - - PROFILE -

LIVE­STOCK trans­port is a tough game at the mo­ment, with an­i­mal wel­fare ex­posés, ris­ing costs and red tape.

How­ever, Mark Tal­bot, an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber of the Live­stock and Ru­ral Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion of West­ern Aus­tralia, couldn’t be more pas­sion­ate about the in­dus­try.

The owner-op­er­a­tor has been run­ning Wed­der­burn Trans­port, his live­stock and ru­ral trans­port busi­ness, for more than 20 years.

Based in Brunswick, WA, 25km north-west of Bun­bury, Mark is a staunch ad­vo­cate for ru­ral and re­gional economies and, as a fourth­gen­er­a­tion beef farmer, a vo­cal pro­po­nent for an­i­mal wel­fare.

“I have a pas­sion for cat­tle and trucks. I grew up with that pas­sion, so that brings me to where I am,” he said.

“My wife An­gela and I have our trans­port busi­ness that spe­cialises in cat­tle plus a lit­tle bit of gen­eral freight and hay, and a farm­ing en­ter­prise as well.”

Wel­fare at all lev­els of the chain, from driver to sup­plier to an­i­mal, will take cen­tre stage at the upcoming LRTAWA an­nual con­fer­ence to be held in Bun­bury from July 20–21, with the theme of “driv­ing a health­ier in­dus­try”.

As a farmer and a mem­ber of the Na­tional An­i­mal Wel­fare Com­mit­tee of the Aus­tralian Live­stock and Ru­ral Trans­porters As­so­ci­a­tion (of which LRTAWA is a sub­sidiary), it’s not sur­pris­ing that this theme res­onates with Mark.

“An­i­mal wel­fare and driver wel­fare are prob­a­bly our high­est pri­or­i­ties,” he said.

“They’re up there to­gether. I have a pas­sion for live­stock, so I care about the cat­tle. I care about what we do and my staff are the same. We all have that same pas­sion for mak­ing sure we do the job right.”

In fact it’s so im­por­tant to Mark that 20 years ago he be­gan de­sign­ing and con­struct­ing his own trail­ers and stock crates.

“I’ve al­ways had an in­ter­est in de­sign and build­ing equip­ment and with a farm­ing back­ground you be­come a jack-of-all-trades.

“I started look­ing at a lot of the equip­ment that was be­ing used and I could just see the short­falls in it.”

Mark then went on to em­ploy a boil­er­maker to as­sist with con­struc­tion while he did the de­sign.

To­gether they built their first stock crate, com­bin­ing all they had learnt to cre­ate some­thing that suited the busi­ness. They went on to build five trail­ers with a trailer man­u­fac­turer in Perth, but con­tin­ued build­ing their own crates.

“We’re try­ing to be a bit more in­no­va­tive and make our trail­ers eas­ier to use and bet­ter for the live­stock,” said Mark, adding, “we look at the de­sign of the pens in­side, the type of floor­ing, the ramp set ups. All the lit­tle things that add to­gether to make the whole job a lit­tle bit eas­ier on the live­stock in­side the crate”.

“Our crate de­sign has also had us look at driver safety, with safer ac­cess to the crates for load­ing and un­load­ing.

“Lad­ders and cat­walks have been im­proved and we now open the bot­tom pen gates at ground level – no more climb­ing onto the side of the crate.”

Mark and his team at Wed­der­burn pri­ori­tise keep­ing the crates clean and washed for the ben­e­fit of cat­tle, the busi­ness and the public.

Ease of wash­ing has been a re­cent de­sign con­sid­er­a­tion and they are now run­ning ef­flu­ent tanks on the trail­ers.

A smooth ride and in­ter­nal light­ing are also pri­or­i­ties.

For that, Mark has worked closely with his lo­cal Truck­line store in Bun­bury.

“The ride of the trailer is fairly im­por­tant,” he said.

“Truck­line rec­om­mended a sus­pen­sion to me in the very, very be­gin­ning, which we ran with and we’ve pretty well used that all the way through. That’s mainly so it’s not a harsh ride for the stock.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

PAS­SION­ATE MAN: Mark Tal­bot couldn't be more pas­sion­ate about the in­dus­try and an­i­mal wel­fare.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Mark de­signs and con­structs his own trail­ers and stock crates.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Mark has been run­ning Mark Wed­der­burn Trans­port for more than 20 years.

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