The process of loading livestock can be a very stressful one on the animals because they are going to be exposed to many unfamiliar sounds and surroundings. Many of the animals will never have seen these things before and will be very frightened. Planning the loading procedure well in advance will allow adequate time for the livestock to be loaded quietly and with care. This will allow the animals to be loaded in a way that will reduce their stress level and it will not cause them any injury. One thing to remember is that if you are loading the animals at night, you should use some source of artificial lighting to illuminate the surroundings and the loading ramp. This will allow you to see better and make loading the animals much easier.
There are several methods that are currently used to assist in loading livestock and they include:
- Making use of the behavioral and group characteristics of the particular species.
- Electric prods. These types of devices should be approved for use and should only be powered by batteries or dynamo. Their use should be restricted to the minimum that is necessary to complete loading. They should never be used on young animals or horses.
- A length of cane with a short strap of leather or canvas attached (called flappers) or metallic rattles are ideal because they encourage the livestock to move in response to sound.
- Well trained dogs are also useful to assist in loading livestock. You should muzzle dogs that are known to bite and only use the number of dogs that are needed to complete the task.
When you are loading, it is important to make sure that the doors to the transport vehicle are properly aligned with the loading ramp to ensure the smooth movement of livestock. This will ensure that there are no injuries to the animals and it will also minimize bruising.
It is also important to remember that different species of animals should be separated from one another during transport. For example, sheep and goats should not be permitted to travel together.
All loading procedures should be supervised by experienced stockmen and supervisors to ensure that spectators do not interfere with the smooth loading of the animals. The driver who will be transporting the animals should also be provided with the name and phone number of the owner or stock agent in case of delays or injuries that would require emergency actions.