Tag Archives: transporting livestock

Handling Livestock Safely

Most transporters know that no matter how gentle an animal may appear, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will continue to act like this while you’re handling them and on the road.  It’s important to understand how all livestock animals think and what their natural behaviors are so that you can be safe when loading, unloading and transporting these animals.

All livestock animals were once a prey of some sort.  All predators have their eyes on the front of their head and have sharp teeth.  All prey have eyes on the sides of their head and have blunt teeth.  You, to a prey animal, are a predator so it is important to remember that when you are handling livestock.

All livestock animals have a point of balance at their shoulder.  When you stand behind their shoulder, it encourages them to move forward.  When you stand in front of the shoulder, they will either stop or they will back away.  Many handlers will make the mistake of standing in front of the shoulders of those animals that they are trying to load.  This is the case with horses often as you try to lead their head into the trailer rather than giving them a driving force from behind.  Groups of cattle or pigs will often move easily into a chute if you don’t stand in front of their shoulder but encourage them from behind.  Because of this, it is often not necessary to prod every animal to get them to the chute and onto a trailer. In fact, if you can stand behind their shoulders and motivate them to move forward they will often move quite easily through a chute and into a trailer without being prodded at all.

All livestock animals also have a “flight zone.”  This is the distance that they feel safe from you and if you move into that space they will move away.  The size of an animal’s flight zone will depend on how tame the animals are.  You can think of this as their “personal bubble.” The size of the flight zone also depends on how excited the animals are, the more excited they are the large the zone becomes.  For cattle, it’s important to remember they are easier to move if they are calm and if they do get excited it will take about 20 to 30 minutes for them to calm down.

If you understand this concept of flight zones and point of balance, you will be much more successful in moving animals and working with them while you are traveling.

Tips for Choosing a Livestock Hauler

The decision to ship livestock is also an important one as you want to make sure that your livestock are shipped safely and securely. Therefore it is important to make sure that you fine a reliable livestock shipper whom you can depend upon to ship your livestock in a safe and secure manner.

When considering livestock shipping companies there are several questions you should ask in order to choose the best shipping company for your needs.

First, always make sure you ask the shipping company whether they have mover insurance. This is absolutely essential. You should also ask the company how things are handled in the even there should be an accident.

Find out whether the company has the proper Department of Transportation permits as well as required licenses in order to be a commercial animal hauler. Keep in mind that it is illegal to ship livestock across state lines without an Interstate Commerce Commission license number.

You should also find out the schedule for your livestock’s journey. Ask the hauler whether they plan to drive straight through or whether there may be a layover in a different location.

In addition ask about the size of the trailers that will be used. How many other animals will be traveling in the same trailer?

Find out as well who exactly will be looking after your livestock during the journey. Does this person have the proper expertise to take care of your livestock?

Always make sure you find out what kinds of information the company as well as the specific driver should have in order to ship your livestock. For example, find out whether you will need to provide copies of health certificates and veterinarian records. To make sure that the journey is as safe and easy as possible for your livestock, you should also make sure that you provide any imperative information about your livestock to the company. For example, if you are planning to ship a horse then you will need to let the company know if the horse is difficult to handle or if he is the nervous type.

You should also find out if you need to provide hay, feed and any other things your livestock may need during the journey. Along those same lines, ask the company directly whether your livestock will have access to water and feed at all times.

Finally, make sure you ask questions about the company’s cancellation and refund policy.

Selecting and Caring for Stock before Transport

Transporting livestock can be a very stressful time period for both the owners and the animals. It is very easy for livestock to become stressed. One of the most stressful times on livestock is during the gathering process. The animals that are going to have the most stress during this time are the ones that are not accustomed to being handled, pregnant females, very young or very old animals and there are also certain breeds who just do not handle stressful situations very well. The best thing to reduce the stress in these animals is to allow them to rest for at least 24 hours before they are transported. This will give them an opportunity to calm down and this will also reduce their stress level during transport.

When you are preparing to transport livestock over long distances, they should be gathered and transported to their loading destination as quickly as possible. They should then be allowed to rest and eat and drink plenty of water. This will ensure that they are in good physical condition for the long ride. If you are not able to load your livestock immediately after the resting period, you should make sure that they will have sufficient food and water to maintain them until they are loaded onto the trailer. It is also important that animals are provided shelter. Livestock such as horses, cattle, sheep and goats usually do not require shelter except in extreme weather conditions; however, pigs are very susceptible to temperature stress and they should always be provided with shelter from the heat and a cool supply of drinking water.

When it is time to load the animals, only the ones that are fit and healthy should be loaded for transport. Animals that are sick, injured, weak, or females in the late stages of pregnancy should not be loaded. The only time sick animals should be transported is when they are only traveling a short distance to receive veterinary treatment. It is also important to remember that certain classes of livestock should be transported in different trailers, or if this is not possible, there should be a partition separating the animals. For example, calves should be transported separately from adult cattle, cattle that are greatly different in size should be separated, and adult bulls should always be separated from any other cattle.

If you take good care of your livestock before they are transported, you will greatly reduce their stress and have a healthier animal at the end of the ride.

Special Requirements when Transporting Livestock

It is important to get your livestock to their final destination without any injuries. Everyone knows that injuries are going to happen, but there are some things that you can do to reduce the risk of your livestock being injured during transit.

The first thing that you should do is allow enough room between the animals. Packing of animals either too loosely or too tightly will predispose them to injury. Partitions should be used to reduce the chance of the animals being injured. There should be enough animals within a space to minimize injury while at the same time providing enough space for an animal that is cast to rise with assistance. It is also important to make sure that the animals are properly separated from one another. It is recommended that the following classes be transported separately:

Cattle
• Polled cattle
• Young calves
• Cow with suckling calf
• Hornless cattle
• Adult bulls
• Cattle that are greatly different in size
• Females in advanced stages of pregnancy

Lactating dairy cows that are in full production and without calves at their side should be milked at intervals not exceeding twenty four hours. When bulls are haltered and tied within the trailer, the head rope should not be fitted through a nose ring. Calves should be strong enough to withstand the stresses of transportation and they should be transported in vehicles with enclosed fronts to prevent wind chill. Newborn calves with wet umbilical cords or calves that weigh less than 50 pounds should not be allowed to travel. Cows that are more than eight months pregnant should not be transported for journeys that are longer than eight hours. Longer journeys will increase the risk of metabolic diseases and injury. All cattle should be offered food and water as soon as possible after they have been unloaded.

Sheep
• Sheep that differ greatly in size
• Ewes and sucker lambs
• Ewes in advanced stages of pregnancy
• Rams

Newborn lambs and newly shorn sheep are very susceptible to wind chill and should be transported in vehicles with enclosed fronts to protect them from the elements. Ewes that are more than four months pregnant should not be transported on journeys that will take longer than eight hours and they should be offered food and water as soon as possible after they have reached their final destination.

The recommendations for domestic goats are very similar to those that are listed for sheep.

Standards for Transport Vehicles

There are many different ways that livestock can be transported. The most common way is by trailer, but they can also be transported by rail car or plane. It does not matter how you choose to transport your livestock, but what does matter is that the vehicle is safe.

It is important that any transport vehicle be clean before loading livestock. This will help to ensure that your livestock does not get sick by riding in a dirty vehicle where there were sick animals before. There should also be no protrusions or sharp edges on the framework, doorways, floors, or partitions that are capable of injuring the animals. All gates should operate smoothly and retract fully from the animal’s pathway. Gates should not be susceptible to jamming by either the animals or by transit vibrations. All hinges and latches should not project into the animal’s pathway either and all gates should be clearly visible to animals when they are shut. An easy way to achieve this is by providing “sight boards”.

All internal sheeting of the sides of the vehicle should be smooth and also have a large area of contact with the animals to eliminate bruising and pressure points. It is also important that the height deck be tall enough to ensure that the type of animal being transported is able to stand without contacting overhead structures. It is also important that the vehicle has a floor that is constructed out of non-slip material that is easily repaired and that will not injure the legs or hooves of the animals.

If animals are traveling in multi-deck vehicles, the deck structure should be designed to minimize soiling of the animals on the lower decks. The spacing of the side rails should be small enough to prevent the animals from jamming their heads and legs between the rails. If you are using a vehicle that is not completely enclosed, the sides of the vehicle should be high enough to prevent the animals from escaping.

When choosing a vehicle, it is important to make sure that there are sufficient partitions and secure fittings to ensure that the animals are adequately separated and are not overcrowded. It is also important to make sure that the exhaust system of the vehicle is not polluting the air where the animals are riding. There should also be adequate air flow inside the vehicle to keep the animals cool and minimize heat stress.

If you are careful when selecting a vehicle for transport, you will ensure that your animals have the most pleasant ride possible.

Length of the Journey and Rest Stops

It is a well known fact that transporting livestock is a very stressful experience. Some of the stresses that livestock will experience are due to loading, unloading, climate changes, unfamiliar sights and sounds, and the length of time that they are traveling. Many haulers think that allowing the animals to rest during travel will reduce their stress and make the hauling process much easier on them, but this is not always the case.

Rest stops will extend the total time of the journey and it will also expose the animals to more unfamiliar sights and sounds. The process of unloading and reloading the animals will also cause them to have more stress and increases the risk of them being injured. Sometimes it is more beneficial to the animal to continue the journey rather than stopping; however, if the journey is extremely long, the animals should be given a rest period before continuing on.

After each 24 hours of travel, a rest period of between twelve and twenty four hours should be provided for all young ruminant animals. If a full twenty four hour rest period is given, the travel period for these animals may be extended to thirty six hours. If you are hauling mature ruminant animals, a rest period of twelve to twenty four hours should be provided after every thirty six hours of travel. If a full twenty four hour rest period is provided, then the total travel time may be extended to forty eight hours.

When the animals are unloaded for the rest period, they should have access to both food and water and have enough space available to rest and exercise. Animals that are transported in small groups and are fed and watered in transit should be unloaded and exercised every thirty six hours if there is not room in the vehicle for them to lie down.

It is important to complete all journeys that involve animals as quickly as possible, but they should be within the limits imposed by rest stops and road safety. A great amount of care should be taken to avoid prolonged deprivation of feed and water when animals are unloaded after being transported and then reloaded for a further journey. This time period should not exceed twenty four hours, and if it does, special arrangements should be made to feed and water the animals while they are in the holding area. This sequence of events is most commonly seen with animals that are transported to sale yards and then transported to the property of the new owners.