The safe transportation of any purchase is always a concern, but special attention must be paid when that purchase includes live animals. Without proper care and consideration, botched transportation plans can injure or even kill livestock. Thankfully, there are a number of options available that allow for the safe transport of livestock with minimal risk.
Transport Trailer Options
There are various types of trailers used for transporting livestock over long distances. While the sizes and configurations vary depending on distance and the type of animal being transported, there are some standard trailer types that include:
- Possum Belly trailers
- Straight trailers
- Gooseneck trailers
- Pup trailers
- Straight trucks
It’s also important to consider factors like ventilation – punch or slatted trailers – or partitions to help with the animal’s stability while in the trailer. Additional options like air ride suspension or sprinkler systems may also be something to consider with particularly sensitive livestock like swine.
What’s on the Inside Matters
Once you’ve settled on the trailer type, it’s also important to consider the interior of the trailer to prevent injury to any animals. Make sure to inspect the interior of any trailer for:
- Sharp edges: Items like bolts, screws or nails can easily injure animals as they shift around during transport.
- Loose or damaged floor boards
- Non-slip flooring surfaces and bedding like hay, sawdust or other cushioning materials
Reduce Stress Before & During Transport
Unfamiliar activity leading up to and during transport can cause undo stress on any animal. To help minimize stress and the likelihood of injury as a result, handler should take extra care to:
- Sort any stock prior to loading and ensure handling time is kept to a minimum
- Avoid mixing animals that are unfamiliar with each other to avoid fighting
- Don’t delay travel or increase unnecessary time in the trailer
- Plan for weather: This includes extra bedding for cool weather or possibly sprinkler systems or other options for hotter weather.
- Make sure weight is distributed evenly: This helps avoid falling or trampling during travel.
- Separate horned and hornless animals for transport
Lastly, it’s always important to check the qualifications of any transporter. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request references when working with an unfamiliar company or individual. It’s also helpful to give the shipper any additional instructions or helpful hints that may pertain to specific animals or other agreed upon requirements between you and the buyer.
When in doubt, use these helpful resources for additional transportation tips:
USDA: Cattle and Swine Trucking Guide for Exporters
USDA: Farm Animal Handling and Transport