Nearly all livestock on a farm must be transported at some point in their lives, be it travelling to or from the mart, transferring between farms or heading to the factory.In all cases, they need to be transported safely, quickly and causing as little stress to the animal as possible.
A problem that many farmers must consider is finding the appropriate facilities to complete the task. This is where Colm Kelly comes in with his emerging livestock transportation business.
Colm comes from a farming background, having grown up on a suckler farm in Cavan with his parents, Mattias and Marianne and his brother Martin. He even bought his first suck calves at the young age of eight. The farm always had a tractor, the most recent being a Massey Fergusson 6290.
Like most entrepreneurs, Colm was figuring out how to expand on his brother’s farming business and decided that there was a gap in the market for transporting animals in and around the local area.
Colm decided that he would become a cattle agent and explains “I started drawing cattle about 4 years ago, and then in 2017, I bought the tractor-trailer.” The twenty-four-year-old is also employed at Kingscourt Mart on Thursdays where he has worked in the Heifer ring for the past two years.
From there, Colm decided to invest on his idea and bought a couple of trailers. He purchased a 21ft Tuffmac trailer and another 14ft porter trailer.
He found that many farmers in his area needed to move livestock, but not enough that would require a truck, so the twenty-one-footer worked like a charm.
Colm said: “I can draw nineteen weanlings behind with the tractor”. He also employs his Toyota Land Cruiser to do some of the transporting, with which he can haul ten weanlings at any one time.
Speed must be kept to a slow pace and other drivers must be aware of the different braking capabilities of the vehicle in front - especially when transporting livestock.
Weight consideration in the back is often neglected by other road users. This means that haulage vehicles will need further distance to stop when they need to apply emergency braking. This goes for horse-boxes too and is an increasing risk to drivers, especially on rural roads.
Ready for Business
Colm is always ready to hit the road, “I will take anything anywhere, seven days a week” he said as he was already preparing to make a collection. “We haul from marts all around Cavan and Kells”. One of the biggest challenges that Colm has had to face in his business is the rising cost of diesel and getting the right staff to drive.
“Mostly we bring livestock to and from the mart for local farmers” explained Colm.
Being a relatively new enterprise, Colm has made connections in the right places and now draws for an agent of Liffey Meats. Colm would find himself heading to Ballyjamesduff in the evenings after the mart on a regular basis now.
Running a business, no matter how big or small, requires good business acumen and there is a real benefit to those who can pivot direction from time to time.
For instance, Colm doesn’t just transport livestock. He and his father also draw and sell straw from his parent’s farm in the summer months.
Although Colm doesn’t live at home on the farm, he is always close by, working with his father Mattias and brother Martin. The Kelly’s mainly work with weanlings and dry stock.
“We’ve got about forty sucklers on the farm” explained Colm, as well as that, they are also farming about a hundred-and thirty-five acres - large enough to keep the Kelly’s busy year-round.
Unfortunately, such is the nature of the beast, it is difficult to maintain a good income as this business can greatly fluctuate.
“We’re doing well, but sometimes the trailer mightn’t leave the yard for six months, then you could be very busy the following weekend,” explained Colm; however, this doesn’t stop him planning a future expansion of the business.
It is clear from our conversation that Colm is a forward thinker, as he describes what he may do with the business - “I definitely plan to by a rigid truck at some stage” said Colm, his staffing obstacles are already thought out, “I’ve a nephew Aaron coming home all the time, he’s fourteen and keen to help”.
Like most businesses, a good tagline will get you everywhere, and this one gets straight to the point” - Kelly Livestock Transport, “Anywhere at all, we will haul.”
If you are a haulier and you want to share your story, email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with a short bio.