Warm Weather Hauling

Precautions to Take When Hauling Livestock in Warm Weather

With summer approaching, it’s time to think about precautions you can take when hauling livestock in warm weather.  Livestock have a lower tolerance to heat and humidity than humans, and often have limited means for cooling themselves.

There are two factors to consider when hauling in warm weather:  heat and humidity.  The relative humidity affects animals’ ability to cool by evaporation.  The more moisture there is in the air, the less evaporation that occurs, and as a result, less cooling benefit to the animal.  As the air temperature increases, cooling becomes more important.

The chart below is the Heat Index Chart for Cattle.  Color-coding in the chart indicates danger levels for cattle based on heat and humidity. (From www.erh.noaa.gov/rah/heat/heatindexchart.gif.)

Cattle, sheep, and swine all have different Heat Indices.  For sheep Heat Index go here:  http://www.healingspringsanimalhospital.com/2007_06.htm and for Swine Heat index go here:  http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/?AREA=FeaturedArticle&Display=669


When you make plans to transport livestock in the summer, consider the following to alleviate heat stress:

  • Avoid transporting when the Heat Index is above 93 on the above chart
  • Plan transport during the cooler parts of the day, avoiding the hours between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm as that is generally the hottest time of day
  • Haul fewer animals at a time if at all possible
  • Avoid stopping.  If you must stop, park the animals in shade
  • Make stop durations as short as possible
  • If possible, plan shorter trips in hotter weather
  • Check weather service forecasts for your route and destinations.  They will often include information for livestock haulers
  • Ensure the livestock are well hydrated before shipping.  Often animals won’t drink while in transport, even if drinking water is available
  • In some instances it is possible to give animals electrolytes prior to shipping, consider doing that
  • Make sure your load has plenty of ventilation and airflow
  • At all times animals should be handled quietly and calmly when loading, hauling, and unloading.  This is especially true in high heat and humidity situations
  • At times when it is especially hot out, consider cancelling the transport until cooler weather arrives.

By following these precautions and avoiding high-stress situations, you can ensure your load is delivered safely and without heat stress.


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