Category Archives: safety

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

Cattle, sheep, and swine all have different Heat Indices.  For sheep Heat Index go here: and for Swine Heat index go here:


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.


Back Your Trailer ANYWHERE! – 3 Exercises

Horses and Trailer
Photo by Katie@!

Trailer-backing is a seemingly mysterious art that is easy to master and essential to the safety of you and your livestock.  Being a proficient backer will save you hundreds (or thousands!) in repair bills for your equipment, and will help ensure the safety of your livestock and others around you.  Follow these steps to learn to back your trailer.

Find a large empty area where you can practice.  An empty parking lot or field with no traffic or obstacles is the ideal training ground for you to begin.

  1. Back straight, using mirrors.  Using your mirrors to back up is critical because in this way you never take your eyes off of your load.  You have multiple points of reference (your mirrors) without having to try to turn around.  This task teaches you trailer awareness – you will get to know what your trailer looks like in your mirrors when it’s perfectly straight, and what it looks like when it is turning.
    • Begin with your truck and trailer straight.  To do this, drive forward in a straight line until the truck and trailer are aligned.
    • Adjust your mirrors.  Make sure you can see your trailer in all of your mirrors.  Note what part of the trailer you are seeing – the driver’s side fender, the back corner, etc.
    • Put your vehicle in reverse.
    • Place your hands at 8 and 4.  Imagine your steering wheel is a big clock.  When you are driving forward, your hands are ideally in the 10:00 and 2:00 position.  To make corrections easier while backing, place your hands at the 8:00 and 4:00 positions on your imaginary clock.
    • Begin backing slowly.
    • Look in your mirrors.  Where is that trailer part you were seeing?  Is it out of site of your mirror?  That means you are no longer backing straight.
    • Make small corrections early, not big corrections late.  Your timing will improve with practice.  Make it a goal to keep that one trailer part you identified before (the driver’s side fender, for instance) in the same spot on your mirror as it was when you were perfectly straight at the beginning.
    • Pull forward, and do it again.  See how far back you can go while keeping your truck and trailer aligned.  Set a goal for being able to back your truck and trailer across the open area as straight as you can.
  2. Back in a half-circle, using mirrors.  Choose a target in your open area where you’d like your trailer to end up.  You could even mark it with a cone.  Think about what you will need to do to get the trailer to that point by turning your vehicle’s tires, and which way you’ll need to turn your vehicle’s steering wheel.
    • Begin with your truck and trailer straight.
    • Adjust your mirrors.  Again, note what part of your trailer you are seeing and where you see it in your mirrors.
    • Put your vehicle in reverse.
    • Place your hands at 8:00 and 4:00.
    • Go Left.  This is where having your hands at 8:00 and 4:00 really helps.  If you want to turn your trailer to a target to your left, turn with your left hand (8:00) and begin turning your steering wheel in a clockwise motion (moving your left hand from 8:00 toward 10:00).  This is not an abrupt motion, just turn slowly and smoothly, correcting as you go.
    • Look in your mirrors.  For a target to your left, you should begin to see more of the trailer fill your driver’s side mirror, and perhaps none of the trailer in your passenger’s side mirror.
    • Try to make a nice arc, not a sharp turn.  You are hopefully in a pretty safe environment, but that doesn’t make it entirely risk-free.  A sharp turn when backing can jack-knife your trailer, damaging your truck and trailer!
    • Keep practicing, and practice turns in both directions.
  3. Serpentine.  Sounds impossible?  Just link the half-circles you learned in Exercise 2.
    • You can set up cones to back around.  Place the cones further apart than the entire length of your truck and trailer combined.  As you improve, move the cones closer together.

With a little practice you can learn to back your trailer anywhere!


Preparation Is Key To Helping Livestock In A Weather Emergency Situation

By: Art Gib

If livestock is an integral part of your livelihood, then you know that their safety and well-being should be uppermost in your mind at all times. Losing even a small percentage of your animals or fowl can mean the difference between your long-term success and financial disaster. If you live in high-risk areas, preparation is a key to helping your livestock survive during a weather-related emergency situation. Here are a few basic steps that livestock owners should take before disaster strikes.


If your area is prone to floods, keep an emergency shelter on high ground to give the animals a safe, dry place to wait out the emergency separate from people. Cohabitation of people and animals is never a good idea even for short periods of time since it invites both vermin as well as disease.

If storms or earthquakes are your most likely hazards, you must have a backup power generation system in place to help your herds and flocks survive under harsh conditions. You will need to have plenty of electricity to not only keep the animals warm and calm but also to operate milking machinery, egg incubators, etc. There are plenty of great industrial power generators on the market that are suitable for a whole range of farming applications: look for the best deals online.


In the case of a natural disaster, it is very possible that your hay, grain, and other backup feed supplies will be destroyed. Even if your large animals are usually pastured, there is no guarantee that that option will be available to them, especially if there is a flood. You may want to consider keeping a quantity of multi-nutrient blocks such as urea-molasses in watertight, portable containers that are easily transportable if necessary. These blocks provide much-needed energy, vitamins and minerals, as well as essential nitrogen to keep them as healthy as possible until they can return to their regular feeding routine.


In the first 72 hours following a weather emergency it may be difficult or even impossible to get your livestock the clean water it needs to survive. Keeping a reserve of clean water on your property is imperative to help them get through the worst. You should have a standing agreement with a water supply company to truck in water when it becomes possible to do so. Trying to arrange for trucked-in water after a disaster occurs will be difficult indeed, and you may find that your herd will not be able to get the help it needs when it needs it.

Taking care of your animals’ 3 basic needs: shelter, food, and water should be part of any owner’s basic emergency plan. The time to plan is now, before disaster strikes.

Author Resource:-> Specialty Vehicle Service and Refurbishment ( is a power generation systems. Art Gib is a freelance writer.

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Advanced Technology Looms for Truck Drivers

tireAccording to the Modern Tire Dealer, technology is in development for a microchip to be implanted in tires. Tire dealers can use the chips for inventory reasons while the technology could also mean tracking rigs. The chips could be used not only in large truck tires but passenger tires and light and medium truck tires.

The chip can monitor a variety of conditions such as tread depth, tire pressure and temperature. However it can also give business information that some would not want accessible.

To a further degree, if it communicates such information it can also communicate where the truck is, how long it has been moving and other information. For agriculture use combined with microchips from the NAIS ,that the government wants to implement, this can mean they can also tell how many animals, what species, where you are and how long they have been on board. Many small farmers and private owners are not embracing the microchip technology.

Technology, like anything can be used for good reasons and be a source of abuse of power. Will this technology take off? The chips themselves aren’t expensive but the readers aren’t cheap. In addition to the chip and the scanner the business could need a PDA and Bluetooth technology.

The information itself can be an issue for some shippers who would rather not have the government riding shotgun. The more regulation involved the easier it can be but the less flexible also. If you aren’t in an area to pull over to unload animals and it’s an extra hour road time before you can then will someone press cruelty charges? If technology “tells” the tread depth from 15 feet away and your tires are slightly over, is that a reason to be pulled over by law enforcement? On the other hand it can mean finding a stolen trailer or vehicle.

How much technology you want on your farm or business is still an individual choice but it is changing all the time.

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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!

Keeping Horses Safe Before, During and After Returning Home from a Trip

As the summer months approach, many horse owners will be hitting the road for some type of equine related activity.  There are several things that owners can do to ensure that their horses remain safe during all aspects of the journey.

One of the most important things that horse owners can do to ensure that their horse remains healthy is to keep them current on all vaccinations and keep them on a regular de-worming program.  It is very important to give vaccines early enough so that they will be able to induce the proper immune response before the trip.  Giving a vaccine just a few days before the journey will not give the vaccine enough time to properly work on the immune system and the horse will still be susceptible to the disease that the vaccine is designed to prevent.

During the trip, it is important to make sure that the horse is comfortable inside the trailer.  Most horse owners will bed the trailer with shavings and give their horse a good supply of hay to eat on the journey.  It is also important to offer the horse water frequently during the trip.

Once you have arrived at the final destination, it is important to carefully inspect the stall or pen in which the horse will be kept.  It is important to look for loose metal, nails and other materials that could possibly harm the horse.  If possible, it is a good idea to sweep the stall and remove any feces that may be on the ground or stuck to the stall panels.  This will keep the horse safe and hopefully prevent the horse from contracting any illnesses that the previous horse might have had.  It is also important to use your own buckets and feed so prevent the spreading of illnesses and to make the horse feel more comfortable.

After returning home from the journey, it is important to keep the horse separated from any other horses on the property for a few days, ideally two weeks.  This will prevent the horses that live on the property from contracting any diseases or illnesses that the traveling horse may have carried home.  It is also a good idea to take the traveling horses temperature twice a day to determine if they are becoming ill because fever is often the first sign of an illness.

Keeping Your Horse Safe in the Trailer

If you are a horse owner or horse transporter, then you know that every horse needs to be transported at some point in its life. You could have a show horse that is routinely hauled to shows or you may only use your trailer to take your horse to the vet for regular checkups. It does not matter what the circumstances are, you always want to make sure that the horse is safe while they are in the trailer. There are many simple things that you can do to ensure that both you and the horse are safe during loading, travel, and unloading.

• If it is possible, use two people to load the horse.

• Never stand directly behind the horse when loading or unloading.

• Train the horse so that it can be sent into the trailer by itself.

• Make sure that the ground around and behind the trailer has good footing before loading or unloading a horse.

• Remove all equipment (saddles, bridles, etc.) before loading. The only thing that should be on the horse is its halter.

• Always speak to a horse that is in a trailer before attempting to handle it. You want to make sure that your horse knows you are there; this will keep him from becoming startled.

• If you are having trouble either loading or unloading a horse, seek professional help.

• Always secure the butt bar or chain before tying the horse. Make sure that you use care when reaching for it to avoid being kicked and always gently let it down when you unfasten it so that you do not accidentally bump the horse’s legs.

• When you are unloading a horse, always untie the horse before you open the door.

• Use some type of bedding or matting in the trailer floor. This will keep the floor from getting slick and prevent the horse from falling.

• Always check the trailer regularly for rotten or weakened floorboards, weakened door hinges, broken hitch welds, and worn or broken wheel bearings and spring shackles.

• Make sure that your trailer meets all state requirements for brakes and lights.

• When driving, double check all connections like lights, brakes, and safety chains and always drive in a defensive manner.

• If you are only hauling a single horse, it is safest to load it on the left side of the trailer.

• You should always check on the horses and the trailer hitch at every stop.

If you are careful and observant, you will ensure that both you and the horse are safe no matter how far you have to travel.