Whether you’re hauling a single steer to the vet or bringing home an entire group of cattle from the sale barn, transporting livestock is a serious task. At some point in your time of raising cattle, you will likely need to either transport some for yourself or find somebody else to do it for you. Although purchasing a livestock trailer can be a large investment, if properly cared for it can last a long time and be a great asset to your homestead.
Once you do get started hauling cattle, here are some tips for not only good trailer care, but also preparing to haul livestock, and safe driving practices while doing so.
Truck & Trailer Maintenance
Keeping your trailer in good working condition is important for not only the longevity of it, but also safety during use. Regularly cleaning out both manure and used bedding will help prevent rust/oxidation from forming and eating away at the metal frame.
If it has a wood floor, ensuring that any repairs needed are done promptly can help to avoid the floor rotting and an animal breaking through.
Along with regular cleaning, it’s also important to keep lights, brakes and wheel bearings in good working order. As local farmer and cattleman (and my husband) Kolton Krispense points out, the pickup truckyou’re pulling the trailer with needs to be dependable to avoid breaking down and stranding you along the side of a road with a load of cattle.
This can cause undue stress for both you and the cattle, and it can even require calling another truck to come pick up the livestock.
Read more: Own livestock? You need a reliable trailer.
Each time before you pull out on a trip, do a walk-around of your rig and check it over thoroughly. Inspect the tires to determine if any are low or leaking. Watch for cracking along the outer edge, as this can cause a tire to be more prone to severe failure. Test both your truck and trailer lights to ensure they’re in working order.
As you walk around, check the wheels for any loose lug nuts. Look over your end gate for any cracks or breaks in the metal, which could potentially be stressed when cattle push against it. And of course, be sure to check your local regulations for complete information regarding vehicle inspections.
Safe Driving Tips
Driving a loaded pickup and stock trailer can be a rather intimidating experience at first. Although you might get more comfortable the longer you do it, it’s best to always remain cautious and alert.
While it will vary from load to load, a truck and trailer weigh a lot more than a car and will take a greater distance and time to stop. Keep this in mind as you drive.
Before you head out, take the time to line the trailer floor with a layer of good bedding material (such as wood chips), which will help the cattle grip the floor and soften the trailer floor over a long distance.
It can be helpful on larger loads to split the cattle into separate groups, though this will depend on the number of animals you’re hauling and if the trailer has more than one compartment (split by a gate between). Splitting the load can allow them to fit together more snugly in a compartment, so if an incident occurs where the vehicle has to swerve or move quickly, they will be less likely to bounce around in the trailer.
Once loaded, do your best to both accelerate and come to a stop gently. Plan ahead and start slowing down in plenty of time. Try to provide the animals the smoothest ride you can.
During the summer, it’s best to avoid hauling cattle in a trailer when it’s extremely hot out, as this stresses the cattle. To avoid this, consider going earlier in the day or later in the evening when cool. Make sure your trailer has good ventilation, allowing plenty of air flow.
Hauling cattle can be a good learning experience, but it’s one you always need to take seriously. Take your time and do your best to drive safely. Be aware of not only what is going on around you but also in the trailer behind you, as cattle can move and shift about.
Please keep in min that these tips are just some good, basic suggestions to help when hauling cattle. Refer to your state or federal guidelines for proper procedures. Safe travels!