Returning to Basics – Safety Begins Before the Key is turned

Whether you have hauled animals for years or are new to hauling it pays to keep the basics in mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re hauling cattle to the next state, horses to a show, pigs to market or sheep and goats to sales these basics can help save money, time and animals.

This can boil down to 7 check points and 5 considerations which, if done every time you slide into the rig, can reduce the problems and increase the safety.

Check lights: Make sure headlights, tail lights, turn signals, running lights and brake lights are working. This might be as simple as a loose connection or a blown light but checking these things, and repairing if needed as soon as possible, makes for a safer time on the road.

Check brakes: Make sure brakes and emergency brakes are in working order every time. With a load behind you pushing the brakes are critical. Don’t risk your safety or that of the load by neglecting the brakes.

Check hitch, chains: This can take just a moment but it’s not unheard of for a hitch to come loose, with disastrous results. If you have stopped for fuel or a meal or even just for a short break always check before you take off.

Check door: This seems obvious but having seen a livestock trailer with horses inside and the sliding door open perhaps it’s not! Again – any time you stop gives activists or pranksters a chance to release the latch on the door. Make sure it’s secured every time.

Check tires: Check tires regularly for wear and for damage. Sometimes a bad tire with pieces missing or damage to it can be replaced before it leaves you stranded along the highway with a loaded trailer.

Check animals: This is easier with a handful of animals than a semi-trailer, but take a peek at the animals. If there are injuries give the receiving end warning or deal with the situation there, depending on the situation. Make sure the animals are comfortable as much as can be during transport.

Check attitude: We cannot change other drivers but can change how we approach it. We don’t know who or what that other driver is. It may be a tired single mom heading home after working 12 hours but it might also be someone who is reckless and has less regard for you than the animals you’re hauling. Use safety precautions, be rested and alert and remember that your load is alive and shifts much differently than ‘dead weight’ tied down.

Consider weather: Snowy, sunny (especially driving into the sun), hot and cold can all make a difference not only in the road conditions but the comfort and safety of the animals aboard.

Consider temperature: Very hot or very cold temperatures can affect the animals on board. In hot weather don’t rely on moving in order to maintain a safe temperature for the animals you have on. Pigs, for example, cannot tolerate heat and often are hauled at night for this reason.

Consider distance: While there are many safety issues the same whether you’re driving 100 miles or 1000 there are generally longer days with longer trips. Consider whether at any point you will need to unload animals to rest and drink and where that would best be done.

Consider animals: Keeping the animals safe in transport is important for them to arrive in good condition. With horses use extra care in hauling stallions especially if mares are also on board. With fuel and transportation costs there sometimes can be a conflict between getting as many as possible on board with not overcrowding or endangering the animals on board. Animals that are pressed in so tightly they can’t stand normally often mean the possibility of animals falling and getting trampled.

Consider documentation: Have a dashboard camera, a good digital camera and accurate records that are kept up to date. Keep equipment maintained and document it. Keep documentation of how many shipped, how many arrived safely and other factors that establishes a good record as well as pointing out in what areas you need to improve.

These things take but a couple minutes to do but can save you time and money. Be safe!

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