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!

Does Your Horse Need Electrolytes while Traveling?

Drinking HorseThe technical summer season may be dwindling down, but the heat is definitely not.  In many parts of the country, cities and states are still seeing temperatures in the upper 90s and even 100s.  With the heat and humidity, horses being transported for long distances, especially in climates they are not used to are prone to dehydration.

Dehydration results from the excessive loss of fluids and cause horses to have an elevated body temperature, develop colic, have muscle malfunction and even die.  With the fluid loss is also a loss of the essential electrolytes that the body needs, which are very important components in normal body function.

The electrolytes include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.  They are vital to muscle contraction, nerve transmission and blood fluid balance.  These substances are soluble in water and sweating causes them to be lost.  When a horse sweats and then dries, the white residue that is seen is salt and indicates a loss of electrolytes.

Horses that are transporting through consistently hot weather will need to be watched for sweating and electrolyte loss.  You can test whether or not a horse has become dehydrated by taking your thumb and forefinger of one hand and pinching the loose skin on a horse’s neck.  If the horse is hydrated, the skin snaps back quickly.  If the horse is dehydrated, the skin will stay in the pinch that you made with your fingers or “tented.”  This is an indicator of dehydration and a sign that the horse needs fluids as well as electrolyte supplementation.  However, horses are different and some may develop gastric irritation and ulcers from electrolyte supplementation, so it is important to discuss this with the horse’s owner prior to supplementing it.

There are several ways you can supplement a horse with electrolytes.  Typically we do so without realizing it when we feed a salt or mineral mix to our horses.  Horses will self-supplement if they have a salt or mineral block available to them.  You can make these available to horses in your trailer by installing small salt block holders or placing them in buckets.  If you place them in buckets, be careful not to pour liquid or mashes onto the blocks, as it will cause them to melt.  You can also put electrolytes into a horse’s drinking water.  The drawback to this method is that not all horses will drink the water and those who do drink it may not consume enough of the water to get adequate amounts of electrolytes. Powdered electrolytes can be placed on the horse’s feed. Most horses will consume them readily in this manner, but others may refuse to eat.  Finally, there are oral pastes available and are ideal for those horses who have become stressed or you can’t seem to get electrolytes down them any other way.

Tips for Loading Donkeys

DonkeysHorses aren’t the only equines that need to be transported from place to place.  Donkeys are often hauled whether it is across the country or to a local show.  However, few transporters take into consideration the special attention that donkeys require.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that you can’t rush a donkey.  If you try to hurry along a hesitant donkey, you’re only asking for trouble.  Most of the tricks that work well on a stubborn horse do nothing on a stubborn donkey.  The best method that works for a donkey is a long lead rope that will reach a secure ring located in the front of the trailer.

Before asking a donkey to enter a trailer, run the end of the rope through the ring.  This is typically a two person job, as one person needs to keep the donkey from backing up when the other asks it to load.

Remember, donkeys are very strong and when they decide to go back, they’re going back and you can’t hold them without a wrap or two around the ring with the lead rope.  This is a slow process, but as long as you don’t allow them to back away at all they will begin to figure out that they don’t have very many options.  Many donkeys will load this way without any fussing.

A common problem when loading a donkey is that they may decide to enter the trailer with their front feet and then freeze.  This can be frustrating because you know they’re almost there, just two more feet to go.  However, don’t make a big deal out of it.  Just move around in a very relaxed manner.  Avoid opening dividers or doors, as this can cause them to become uneasy and then they definitely won’t enter the trailer.  They will simply become suspicious of you and the trailer.

Try to avoid using food as a bribe for loading into the trailer, but there is nothing wrong with a little treat after they have successfully loaded.  However, if you do have a donkey that seems to be motivated by food and you don’t really know the donkey and he doesn’t know you, then a little alfalfa or grain may be a good tool for developing trust between you and the donkey.

Finally, remember that patience is key.  It’s also a good idea to make the trailer an inviting place to be by putting down shavings, cleaning out strange manure and eliminating flies.  If you have lights, turn on the interior lights and open any feeder doors or windows that will increase the light.  If it’s a warm day, have as many windows and vents open as possible to avoid the trailer feeling like an oven.

Reducing Fuel Costs When Transporting Livestock

Many horse and livestock owners are affected by the rising costs of fuel and the added cost of fuel prices have forced some horse owners to reduce some of their summer activities, like hauling to horse shows and participating in trail rides. However, there are several things that horse owners can do to help maximize their vehicles fuel efficiency. By properly maintaining the tow vehicle and carefully planning ahead, horse owners will still be able to participate in many different horse related activities.

One of the most important aspects of maximizing the fuel efficiency and reducing the costs associated with hauling horses is to properly maintain the vehicle that is used to haul the horses. One of the most important aspects of maintaining the tow vehicle is to keep the engine tuned. Research has shown that a properly tuned engine can result in as much as a four percent increase in fuel efficiency.

Another important maintenance area is to replace the air filter on a regular basis. The air filter is used to remove particles and impurities from the air that enters the engine. By keeping the air filter replaced, horse owners can increase the mileage in their tow vehicle by as much as ten percent.

It is important to allow time for horses to rest when they are being hauled long distances; however owners should not let their tow vehicle idle while the horses are resting. When a tow vehicle is idling, it is getting zero miles to the gallon and as a general rule; larger tow vehicles will waste a great deal of more gasoline than a smaller passenger vehicle.

Horse owners should also use the cruise control on their vehicle as much as possible when hauling their horses and other livestock. This is because the cruise control will maintain a constant speed on the highway, which will result in great fuel efficiency.

Horse owners should also only pack the necessary supplies that they will need when traveling. This means that owners should carefully plan ahead and leave any extra supplies that will not be required at home. The Department of Energy has estimated that even an extra one hundred pounds in the tow vehicle or the trailer can result in a two percent reduction in miles per gallon. This amount will increase even more as the amount of excess weight that is being hauled increases.

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.

Avoiding Tire Troubles on the Road

Horse TrailerPlanning a simple vacation can be a challenging task because there are many things that people will need to do before they leave their homes. Equine lovers that plan their vacations with their horses have many other things to plan for before leaving including preparing the horse for a long trip and ensuring that both the truck and trailer are in pristine condition.

One of the most commonly ignored areas of maintenance is the tires on the trailer. Horse owners do not blatantly choose to ignore this area of the trailer, they usually simply forget because they are more focused on making sure that the horse is comfortable during the trip. Data collected from a roadside assistance agency proves that the main reason why horse owners are forced to pull off the side of the side of the road is due to some sort of issue with their tires. Luckily, there are several things that people can do to lessen the chance of having an accident due to flat tire or blowout.

The first thing that horse owners should do is check the pressure in all of the tires on both the truck and the trailer. This is especially important in cold temperatures because the tire pressure will change as the tire heats up on the road. Tires that are underinflated will have more resistance to the road and will overheat more readily than tires that are properly inflated, which can lead to a blow out. One tire that many horse owners forget to check is the spare.

It is also important to make sure that tires are in good condition and are road worthy. All of the tires should have a good amount of tread and look like they are in very good condition. Tires that are old and rotted are very dangerous because they will not be able to withstand the stress placed on them when on the road and will not only be unsafe; they will affect the performance of both the truck and the trailer.

It is also important to use the correct type of tire on a horse trailer. All horse trailer tires are required to have an adequate load rating to ensure that they are safe for use. It is also important to not use retreaded tires on a horse trailer or the vehicle that will be pulling the trailer.

Things to do to Avoid Stress and Fatigue When Hauling a Horse

rigThis is the time of year when many horse owners will do the most hauling. Some horse owners will travel to some type of horse related competition while other owners will travel many miles to send their broodmares to breeding farms. Whatever the reason for hitting the road, it is important to ensure that every precaution is taken to reduce the amount of stress each horse will suffer.

The first thing that horse owners should consider when hauling their horses is their position in the trailer. Two separate studies have been performed that evaluated a horse’s heart rate and behavior both before and after a trip. What these studies found was that horses that were hauled facing backwards had significantly lower heart rates and were not as fatigued because they were able to rest on their rumps during the trip. On the other hand, horses that were hauled facing forward tend to be more restless and hold their heads higher during the journey, resulting in a horse that is more fatigued at the end of the trip.

Another factor that will determine a horse’s level of stress and fatigue at the end of a long journey is the temperature inside the trailer. While this is usually not a problem in open stock trailers, it can be a serious problem in completely enclosed trailers. This is why it is important to open the windows in enclosed trailers and maintain good quality airflow. Another way to keep a horse cool on a trip is to ensure that the horse has access to clean water several times during the journey. Overheating can have an effect on a horse’s health for several weeks after a journey.

It is also important that horses have a good immune system before they endure a long journey. This will reduce the risk of them contracting an illness during the journey. Owners can help to stimulate the immune system by feeding their horse supplements like vitamin C for several weeks before a trip.

Handlers should also take precautions to ensure that horses do not injure their legs during a journey. Both the front and back legs of a horse should be wrapped in protective bandages so that the horse will avoid injury as they are moving around in the trailer. Bandages should be applies so that the coronary band above the hoof is also protected.

Providing Training to Livestock Haulers

Livestock is one of the most difficult types of item to transport. Unlike other types of cargo, each different species of livestock will have their own special requirements that must be met to insure that each animal arrives at it destination in pristine condition. One thing that the shipping industry is doing to make sure that all of the standards are met is to have training seminars for livestock transporters.

January 25, 2008 was the second time that Alberta Farm Animal Care hosted a training course for livestock transporters. This second training course was held due to the high response from people in the livestock transportation industry. There were many companies that were not able to attend the first training session that was held May 18, 2008.

According to a statement from Alberta Farm Animal Care, the Certified Livestock Transporter (CLT) course is a comprehensive course that focuses on many different aspects of the livestock transporting industry. One of the main focuses of the training program is to focus on animal safety. The program is able to offer advice to anyone who will be in contact with the animals during the shipping process including truckers, receivers and shippers.

One of the great things about the training course is that there are breakout sessions that will focus on each individual species and the different factors that are involved with transporting each individual species. Each of the breakout sessions will focus on either cattle, horses, hogs, sheep or poultry. The great thing about having individual sessions for each species is that haulers and transporters who only deal with one species of animal will not have to spend several hours listening to information that does not pertain to their business.

It is estimated that on any given day, there are about 480 trucks hauling pigs, sheep, bison, elk, cattle, horses and poultry in Canada. One can only assume that these numbers are even higher in other parts of the world. By providing training and certification classes, Alberta Farm Animal Care is helping to create a higher standard that is sure to be seen not only in Canada, but in other areas of the world as well. By providing the necessary training to every sector of the Canadian livestock industry, the CLT program will be helping to ensure that everyone involved in the livestock industry has the necessary skills to safely transport animals.

Transporting Mares and Foals

With breeding season just around the corner, many mare owners will be forced to haul their mares to breeding farms with a new foal on their side. While traveling is a stressful experience for any horse, it can be especially stressful for a new baby. This is why a great amount of preparation should be performed before attempting to haul a new foal.

The first thing that people should consider is whether the mare will be traveling with the foal. If the mare will be traveling with the baby, then owners or haulers will need to properly prepare the trailer to ensure that both the mare and baby are safe during the trip. The safest way to haul a mare and baby is to place a partition between the two to ensure that the foal is not accidently hurt by the mare during the trip. If it is possible, an owner may even consider leaving the mare at home so that more attention can be given to the foal at the vet clinic. However, this is something that owners will need to discuss with their veterinarian.

Another thing that owners will need to consider when hauling a foal is the condition of their health. A foal that is sick will have a very difficult time maintaining their body temperature during travel and can become very cold. This is because new foals do not have a great amount of body fat to serve as insulation and being sick will only make it more difficult for the foal to keep warm.

If it is absolutely necessary to transport a sick foal, special considerations will need to be made to ensure that the foal does not get cold during the trip. One way to help a foal stay warm during transportation is to haul them in a trailer that is fully enclosed. This will prevent any cold air from blowing on the foal during the trip. However, this may not be a possible solution for every owner.

In the situation that the foal must be transported in an open stock trailer, the owner should use a foal sized blanket to preserve as much body heat as possible. However, a great amount of heat can be lost through the legs. One way to prevent this type of heat loss is to wrap the legs. A foal should be constantly supervised any time leg wraps are used to prevent the foal from injuring itself.