Trucks – and why we need them

Host: Eversleigh Station
Written by Jenny Underwood – Eversleigh Station.

We’ve all been in that situation, haven’t we? You’re driving along the road, often in a hurry to get somewhere, and up ahead you see… a truck. So now you have to slow down, and at times, finding a suitable place to overtake that truck can prove a challenge and a test of your patience.

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But rather than curse these trucks you should be considerate and treat them and their drivers with the utmost respect. Have you ever stopped and looked around you, at the things in your home – the food on your pantry shelves or the milk and fruit and vegetables in your fridge; the furniture in your home; the newspaper or magazines lying on your table? What about the petrol that is in your car in the garage? Have you ever wondered how and where these everyday items that we too often take for granted have come from to reach your home?

As livestock producers we rely heavily upon trucks. Without trucks delivering goods to our property and carting livestock away from it, our business would virtually grind to a halt.

And these same trucks need the livestock industry to remain viable for them to continue in business as well. If one element in the process is removed then the whole industry is in danger of collapsing.

Trucks are on the road 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The drivers work long hours and spend a lot of their time away from their family. When asked, every truck driver who has come to Eversleigh has told us that they drive trucks because they love it! It’s not a job we would do but thankfully someone is willing to “go the distance.”

2.2 copyA very late afternoon fuel delivery. The truck had left its base in Richmond (about 230km by road west of Eversleigh) the previous morning; we were the final delivery and the truckie was on his way back to Hughenden to camp overnight before heading back to Townsville early the following morning to refuel.

One of the supplements fed by many beef cattle producers is “lick” – a urea based product which enables the cattle to utilize pasture better. A pallet of lick holds 40 bags which weigh 25kg each; therefore each pallet holds a tonne. Freight is expensive. Our lick is made by a stockfeed company in Charters Towers (about 350km away) with the usual freight rate around $80 per tonne.

2.3 copyA trailerload of lick. There are 24 tonnes of lick per trailer. Sometimes we also get steel delivered at the same time as a consignment of lick.

During the drought it was necessary to give our cattle further supplements such as whole cottonseed and molasses.

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2.5 copyTwo trailers of cottonseed which has come from the gin at Emerald – just under 600km away. The trailer tips the cottonseed on the ground and my husband, Roger, pushes it into the shed with the tractor so that it is under cover. Altogether there was 54 tonnes of cottonseed in this particular consignment.

Multilik is a molasses-based product we also use to supplement feed our livestock. The product comes out in tankers which hold about 18,000 – 19,000 litres each.

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2.7 copyFilling the molasses storage tanks at Eversleigh is a long and dirty process, made even worse during the hot summer months, but Woody and Paula always took it in their stride as part of the job and they always had a smile on their faces when they arrived AND when they left.

While we do have a truck of our own, there were times when it wasn’t convenient for us to collect hay. During 2014 hay was so scarce to source that consignments were coming from well over 1000 km away.

2.8 copyAs much as possible we source our hay from a local producer and use a local contractor to deliver it to us.

A common sight on most country roads is a livestock truck. In many parts of rural and remote Australia these trucks commonly tow up to three trailers. They are known as road trains; a road train is 53.5m long and carries approximately 11,000kg of stock per deck. There are two decks per trailer or “dog”.

2.9 copy In early 2014 when it was becoming increasingly evident that we had missed out on a wet season for the second year in a row we trucked all of our weaners – almost 600 head – to a feedlot in NSW.  That consignment was made up of 16 decks.

As much as possible we use local truck companies to cart our hay and livestock. These owner/drivers are a vital part of our community and more often than not good friends. As the slogan goes – “Without Trucks Australia Stops”. Thank you to all the truckies who keep Australia moving!

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