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Top Quality Transport in the North East 

Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS) Haulage Assurance Scheme is an essential element in the ‘whole chain’ assurance programme with Scottish livestock farmers relying heavily upon hauliers to safely transport their stock to and from markets. 

For farmers based in Scotland’s north east and highlands and islands, it is frequently Iain MacEachen Transport, based in Dufftown, Morayshire, they turn to. 

Established in April 2007, Iain MacEachen has built his reputation and business over the last 13 years and now transports around 12,000 prime cattle and 20,000 lambs annually to ABP Perth, McIntosh Donald, Portlethen and Woodhead Brothers, Turriff. 

“MacEachen Transport was established after I purchased three wagons from Willie Duncan, a livestock haulier based in Huntly, who at the time was looking to retire,” said Iain, who now runs five wagons including four Scania ‘artics’ with four-deck Houghton trailers and an eight-wheeler Scania  which now includes lifting decks. 

With just under 10,000 farms in Scotland operating under the QMS Assurance Scheme, Iain joined the Haulage Scheme from day one, stating it was key for him to be able to transport cattle and sheep which are destined for the Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI brands. 

As well as transporting stock to abattoirs in central and north Scotland, weekly livestock auction sales make up a big part of business with store cattle, prime lambs, breeding sheep and pedigree stock transported to and from some of the main auction markets, including Thainstone, Huntly and Dingwall. 

 “We also do regular work for the Scottish Government, delivering bulls from their bull stud depot in Inverness to as far north as Dornoch and across to the islands including Harris, Lewis, Uist, Tiree and Islay,” said Iain.  

He explains how regularly updating lorries and equipment to meet the Quality Assurance Standards and ensure high animal welfare has helped increase business year on year, with two out of the five wagons now suitable for transporting pigs.  

“When I first started, I couldn’t pick up any pig work because all of the trailers had unsuitable ramp elevations for pig loading. As we updated the vehicles, I bought four trailers which have suitable ramp angles, meaning we can now offer a haulage service to pig farmers. 

“Recently, we updated our eight-wheeler to include lifting decks. This has enabled us to pick up more business. The lifting decks mean there is virtually no stress or risk to any of the animals and we have found more farmers are relying on us to move in-lamb ewes, gimmers and hoggs to and from seasonal grazing to reduce animal welfare issues.” 

It’s not only the vehicles and trailers that need to meet the QMS Haulage Scheme Standards, Iain and his team of four full-time and three part-time drivers are trained to handle and transport livestock, and all hold a livestock certificate of competence. 

“Good drivers are essential for our business and we have a great team at MacEachen Transport. All the full-time drivers have their Type 2 Transporter Authorisation for journeys exceeding eight hours, and are responsible for ensuring their lorry and trailer are kept to the highest standard.” 

Iain adds: “Rome wasn’t built in a day and we now have trailers that include various pieces of equipment to make our job, as well as the animals’ journey, safer and flexible. These include fans, water drinkers, higher decks to suit a variety of stock, various ramp elevation angles and different trailer layouts to make it easier and safer for loading and unloading stock.” 

Like the Cattle & Sheep Quality Assurance Scheme, which this year celebrates 30 years in operation, each haulage company under the scheme receive an annual assessment by Lloyd’s Register, an independent inspection and certification company, contracted by QMS to carry out the required assessments in order to certify and approve scheme members. 

Commenting on the standards, Kathryn Kerr, Head of Brands Integrity at QMS said: “The hauliers are an important part of consumer confidence and make a significant contribution to the whole chain assurance scheme, which has given Scotland’s red meat industry the world-class status for our Scotch brand.” 

“The QMS Animal Welfare and Wellbeing Charter recognises the five freedoms of animal welfare and wellbeing and is a guiding principle for all QMS assurance schemes, which are supported and approved by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA), Scotland’s independent animal welfare charity.” 

With the team entering the busy period of back end sales, Iain believes they are lucky to get the opportunity to support the process of hauling some of the best stock in the world from field to fork. 

He concludes: ““I am proud to contribute to the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands. There is no better feeling than safely delivering a load of good quality stock to the next stage of the cycle and getting feedback from the farmer about the trade or slaughter weights and grades they achieve.”