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Moving hay while the sun doesn’t shine – Nolan Transport to the rescue

[ May 7, 2013   //   ]

The Irish transport industry has come to the rescue of the country’s dairy farmers, reeling from the effects of bad weather which has virtually wiped out cattle fodder production in many parts of the country. Nolan Transport has been moving about 20 truckloads of hay every weekday from southern England to Munster to shore up depleted supplies and, at the time of writing in early May, had now moved almost 300 loads for Dairygold, one of the country’s biggest milk producers. It was part of a nationwide effort that has seen around 1,500 truckloads imported into the country, following last year’s wet summer and the cold start to 2013, which has had a serious effect on grass growth in Ireland.

Nolan Transport’s Colm Murphy said: “The relief on farmers’ faces when our trucks arrive is palpable.” Trailers were being unloaded by farmers “as soon as the curtains were opened”.

While cattle can be kept alive on a diet of ‘nuts’, lack of hay means no roughage in cattle diets and that in turn leads to a total loss of milk production. Nolan Transport was approached in mid-April by Farm Minister Simon Coveney, MEP Sean Kellyand Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe, along with along with senior members of the farming community, to mount an emergency transport operation.

Hay was purchased from farmers all over the south of England, including Hampshire, Kent, Shropshire and Norfolk and its distribution coordinated by Kent farming contractor, Burden Brothers, while Nolan transport agreed to move it to Ireland at cost price, said Colm Murphy. While the transport operation had gone smoothly, “we could have done the operation in less time and at less cost if our hands were not tied by the cabotage laws.” these required that tractor units travel back on the ferry to Ireland after ever third domestic run in the UK. (The issue of cabotage between the UK and Ireland has become controversial recently – see FBJ 2 2013, page 1.)

Colm Murphy also praised the efforts of Irish Ferries staff in keeping the trailers moving on their service from Pembroke. Hay – not commonly transported long distances across the water – is classified as dangerous goods because of the potential fire risk and has to travel on an outside deck, forcing the ferry operator to juggle loads on board ship.

Nolan Convoy1

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