In this week’s Livestock Haulage segment, That’s Farming, speaks to James Mulligan, owner of Mull Farm Services. James discusses increasing fuel and motor prices, the importance of knowing your customer’s needs and his desire to upgrade to a cattle lorry.
In 2019, James Mulligan from Carbury, established his livestock haulage business, Mull Farm Services, and obtained his jeep and trailer (BE) licence.
Mull Farm Services also offers dosing/dehorning of cattle and sheep shearing and dipping services in addition to its haulage arm.
His passion for livestock haulage stemmed from a day job, working on a large-scale beef farm and formerly helping other hauliers.
He began his livestock haulage venture by purchasing a Nugent 12×6 cattle trailer from Regan Tractor and Jeep Sales and a 2006 Toyota Hilux jeep in County Limerick.
“I can transport eight weanlings, and if I put decks into the trailer, I could bring 50 to 60 lambs between 30kg,” James Mulligan, a Gurteen Agricultural College graduate, told That’s Farming.
“The trailer can also bring 16 or 17 runner calves and five cows – depending on weights I go to Granard Mart on a Monday night, Carnaross Mart on a Tuesday evening and Edenderry Mart on Saturday. If a neighbour wants to move cattle, I will do that as well.”
Mull Farm Services
James is motivated by the mottos “you call, we haul and “buy the best, leave the rest.” He serves an Offaly, Westmeath, Kildare, and Meath customer base.
Mull Farm Services has a farmyard with a straw bedded shed and a handling unit with adequate food/water facilities for livestock waiting on collection.
“Every stage of the year has different things happening. For example, in February and March, you buy calves for different people. Then, at the backend of the year, you may buy weanlings and sheep.”
“It took time to build up a customer base. It took much learning, going to marts, meeting people, and seeing what people prefer and require. You have to know your customer.”
“One person could want something different from another person; it is all about a farmer’s budget.”
“If they only have a small budget and they want a nice number of cattle, you have to watch out for what you get them. It is all about your customer; it is not about you at all.”
James revealed what he enjoys about his job and the challenges he faces as a livestock haulier.
“Some days are good, but most days are bad. So, you must keep tipping away. If it is a thing you like, it is not too bad,” he laughed.
“I like it, but livestock can be dangerous. Stock bulls are very dangerous, so you need to be aware of them and other cattle at all times.”
“I like going to the mart and picking up cattle. It is nice to go into a yard with cattle and get praised for them.”
“Fuel prices would be the biggest problem and the price of jeeps. You would want a good jeep when in this line of business.”
Key elements to success
James prides himself in completing jobs to a satisfactory level, “getting people what they want, making sure the trailer lands in the yard safely and being reliable”.
“I would be very reliable. For example, if a person wanted me to haul cattle at 6:00 pm, I will be there at that time.”
“To become a successful livestock haulier in the field, being reliable is a big thing.”
“If a person wants cattle brought to a mart on Saturday morning and you tell them you are going to be there at 7:00 am, they have their numbers got and have cattle in ready since 7:00 am. If you do not land there until 8:00 am, it is not a good thing.”
James stated that animal welfare is important when transporting livestock.
“If it takes eight weanlings, for example, to fill the trailer, do not put nine into it. You do not want them real tight; you want them comfortable.”
“For example, if I were going for a load of calves, I bed the trailer with sawdust/straw, and leave the top vents open, and shut middle vents in the trailer. You want them to be as comfortable and clean as possible.”
Day in the life
James shared what a typical day in his life involves.
“If I had a load of cattle with me this evening, I make sure my trailer is clean and be on time. Lights and brakes are a big thing too. If you are out all night hauling, you have to maintain your trailer.”
“You have to have everything right when you land into a yard and ensure that your trailer is not going to let you down or your customer down.”
James shared the following advice for upcoming livestock hauliers.
“My advice to aspiring livestock haulage drivers is if they like it, do it, but there are late nights involved, so be aware of that.”
“You could go to a mart in the evening time, and you might not be home until midnight. So, there is much time consumed in it too. It is not just a case of getting into your jeep and go home.”
“They would want to know what they are at and have a bit of experience and be aware what they are in for and not be rushing and panicking,”
“Looking after your customers is the number one thing. So, treat your client 100% and know your customer.”
“For anybody thinking about getting into livestock haulage, they need a good jeep and trailer.”
“Especially a jeep because they do not want to have problems breaking down and fixing things every time you go out with a load of cattle. You want to keep the jeep well-serviced.”
James intends to increase his customer base, continue to provide a “quality service”, and possibly upgrade his transport.
“In five years, I see myself maybe with a bigger 14ft cattle trailer or a little cattle lorry.”
“You would not know what way the future could go. I will hopefully buy more cattle and travel further down the country.”
“Many people are at livestock haulage, but I will stick at it and see how I go. I like it and enjoy it,” the livestock haulier concluded.
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