John Gardiner Livestock & General Haulage (JH Gardiner & Son) is an exceptional family-run business based in Kilrea, Co. Derry / Londonderry which recently took delivery of a stunning new Volvo FH13 540 GT XL from Dennison Commercials in Ballyclare.
Decked in blue and white livery, and featuring a sleek, full-leather interior, microwave, factory-fitted side skirts and shiny alloy wheels, the truck is the latest addition to the Gardiner fleet and has been put to work transporting livestock, fertiliser, lime, straw and cattle slats across Northern Ireland. The other trucks in the all-Volvo fleet are also FH13s, while there is one FM rigid.
Established in 1991, John Gardiner Livestock & General Haulage is run by father-and-son John and Graham Gardiner who are ably assisted by three full-time staff. Like John and Graham, they all come from farming backgrounds and are accomplished stockmen.
“We’re very happy with the new truck. It has enabled us to provide an even better service to our customers,” Graham says.
“We have four FH13s – a 460, 480, 500 and the new 540 – along with a FM450 rigid which is attached to a drag trailer. It’s a fixed livestock unit that was built by Farlow Engineering in Garvagh. We also have three Plowman livestock trailers as well as one Houghton-Parkhouse livestock trailer, an SDC curtainsider and a couple of SDC flats. Two of the Plowman’s and the Houghton are 45ft double-deck cattle trailers, while the other Plowman is a 33ft single deck.”
He continues: “My father started the business over 30 years ago with a DAF 2300 lorry and drag trailer. He ran just the one truck for many years before adding a second. It’s only since I came on board six years ago after serving my time as a tractor mechanic that we have expanded to what we are now.
“We’ve been all-Volvo since selling out last Scania about a year ago. The benefits of having the same brand are that all the controls and layout are the same, and it’s also easier to keep spare parts. You don’t have the hassle of looking for parts for different truck brands.
“Our fleet is serviced and maintained by Loughbeg Garage in Toomebridge who ensure that there is no such thing as breakdowns or downtime.”
Fully-licensed and delivering unrivalled livestock transportation solutions, John Gardiner Livestock & General Haulage puts the comfort, safety and welfare of the animals first and leaves no stone unturned in guaranteeing optimal service levels tailored to the needs of clients and animals alike. The family business specialises in the transportation of cattle from farm to factory. The Gardiner’s trucks are also a familiar sight at marts across the province, while they also do occasional runs to England and Scotland.
The father-and-son combination pride themselves on their exceptional service and modern fleet of trucks and trailers which ensure every load reaches its destination safely and on time. They have built up a large and loyal customer-base that continues to grow.
“It goes without saying that animal welfare is our number one priority. We follow all the guidelines and regulations in this regard. Our trailers are fully ventilated and are fitted with watering systems. They’re cleaned and disinfected after every trip,” Graham explains.
“Our double-deck trailers mean we are set up to transport cattle, but we also transport sheep from time to time.”
The Gardiner’s have branched into general haulage in recent years. This side of the business mostly involves collecting and delivering fertiliser for Ivan Wright in Garvagh and bagged lime for KW Agri Supplies in Coleraine.
“My brother James, who runs the family suckler and beef farm, had been dealing with Ivan Wright who is our local fertiliser merchant. It was through that we started drawing fertiliser from Belfast Docks to Ivan’s yard or direct to his customers’ farms. We had the advantage of already knowing a lot of his customers through our livestock haulage service.
“We also draw bagged lime from local quarries to KW Agri Supplies along with straw and cattle slats for various other customers from time to time. This general haulage work ties in nicely with the livestock transport as it means we’re kept busy all year around.”
Having a local customer-base is crucial to the business’ viability, according to Graham.
“It makes it feasible at a time when fuel, labour and maintenance costs are at an all-time high. Costs are a huge issue for most operators at the moment.”
As John Gardiner Livestock & General Haulage continues to go from strength to strength, John and Graham would like to take this opportunity to thank their customers and suppliers for their loyalty and support as well as their staff for their hard work, dedication and expertise.
John Gardiner Livestock & General Haulage
99 Moneygran Road,
Telephone: +44 7867 901182
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 1, January/February 2023