A FURNESS cattle haulage company has responded to the thriving beef market by enhancing its fleet with four new state-of-the-art trucks.

Duerden’s, of Lindal-in-Furness, has bought the new Volvo lorries – the most fuel-efficient yet – and had them fitted with the next generation of livestock carrying bodies.

The combination means the family business can operate in the most environmentally and animal welfare friendly way.

Financial director Carolyn Duerden said the new lorries ensured the company’s fleet was ‘one of the greenest ’ in Britain. She said that using bigger lorries meant more animals could be picked up on a run, ensuring each truck journey was as efficient as it could be.

The new vehicles are three 26-tonne rigid single-deck trucks and one 38-tonne articulated version with a double deck.

The truck bodies – described as ‘platinum boxes’ and which come complete with hydraulically operated tailgates - were designed and built by Milnthorpe-based Houghton-Parkhouse.

“It’s a commercial first for this type of body,” said Mrs Duerden. “Before we had them fitted to the Volvos, the platinum box was only made up as a prototype.”

The company’s confidence to invest has been boosted by rising livestock prices, fuelled by increasing demand for protein from the fast-growing economies of China and India.

“There’s a world shortage of meat because of this new market,” said Mrs Duerden. “It’s been going on for a couple of years now.

“Countries like Australia are selling their cattle and sheep to these new markets, which means they are no longer exporting to Britain and the rest of Europe. We now have to fill the gap with home grown protein, which is a good thing because it means there are less food miles involved.”

Duerden’s operates a livestock collection service six days a week. Last year, the company sold its Lindal abattoir to the Irish meat processing firm Dawn Meats, bringing a major player in the meat industry into Cumbria for the first time.

In addition to hauling cattle, Mrs Duerden and her husband Mark breed and finish pedigree Longhorns as well as crossed Longhorn-Limousins for the general beef trade.