‘Drovers’ vi­tal for in­dus­try

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News - Bruce Honey­well news@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

❝ The cat­tle in­dus­try turns over $7.1 bil­lion for Aus­tralia, much of it valu­able ex­port dol­lars...

LIVE­STOCK trans­port is the glue that holds to­gether one of Aus­tralia’s ma­jor in­dus­tries, big­gest em­ploy­ers and one which at­tracts off­shore cap­i­tal by the shipload.

That in­dus­try is live­stock pro­duc­tion.

Trucks bring an ef­fi­ciency to this in­dus­try that make sparse and re­mote pro­duc­tion ar­eas com­pet­i­tive on the world market.

Ev­ery day, ev­ery night, the stocky is a-run­ning.

From the driver’s point of view, this is one of the hard­est jobs in trans­port.

In a road train not only do you have to drive over some of the rough­est tracks in the coun­try, but you are re­spon­si­ble for 100–200 head of liv­ing an­i­mals, en­sur­ing that they are trav­el­ling safely, mak­ing sure they are stand­ing.

Most live­stock truck drivers have an em­pa­thy for these an­i­mals that has a more grounded un­der­stand­ing than the city an­i­mal-lib­bers.

There are ap­prox­i­mately 25 mil­lion head of cat­tle in Aus­tralia at present and the cat­tle in­dus­try in­volves more than 50% of all agri­cul­tural busi­nesses in this coun­try.

The in­dus­try em­ploys more than 200,000 peo­ple and cat­tle pro­duc­tion in 2016/17 is es­ti­mated at $12.7 bil­lion.

In the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year, Aus­tralia ex­ported 68% of its to­tal beef and veal pro­duc­tion to mar­kets in 77 coun­tries. The value of this ex­port alone was $7.1 bil­lion.

With live ex­port ships leav­ing Aus­tralian ports con­tin­u­ously, live cat­tle ex­ports were val­ued at $1.2 bil­lion with 907,965 head ex­ported in the 2016/17 year.

There has been a shift in the live­stock trans­port in­dus­try, where 40 years ago much of the trans­port was from cat­tle sta­tions to rail heads.

These days the ef­fi­ciency of road trans­port means the bulk of cat­tle get to the sa­le­yards, to abat­toirs and to live ex­port ships by road.

To­day road trains are pulling six decks of prime bul­locks out of the Chan­nel Coun­try, seven deck quads bring ‘feed­ers’ into the feed­lots in grain coun­try, and B-dou­bles all over haul live­stock to market.

On the trans­port side of pri­mary pro­duc­tion, there is an ex­tended spread of ser­vice in­dus­tries en­sur­ing that wheels keep turn­ing and that the equip­ment meets con­tem­po­rary ex­pec­ta­tions of an­i­mal safety and com­fort.

From the trucks through to trailer man­u­fac­tur­ers, all the an­cil­lary equip­ment, load­ing ramp con­struc­tion and a hun­dred other sup­port ser­vices, a great team across the coun­try keeps this bil­lion­dol­lar in­dus­try on the road.

Be­cause with­out road trans­port, Aus­tralia would not have the pri­mary pro­duc­tion in­dus­try that it has to­day.

PHOTO: BRUCE HONEYWILL

A schmick look­ing Ken­worth of Shana­hans crosses Dog­wood Creek at Miles in Queens­land.

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