A year and a half ago we were on vacation when I noticed a bunch of gooseneck trailers all turning the same direction at an intersection. I told my wife to follow them and they lead us to the local salebarn and it was auction day. My wife waited in the café while me and my daughter, who was three at the time, went out back to view the cattle. We walked back across the parking lot to the café, and my daughter asked me “daddy, where are all the Peterbilt’s?” I told her that calvies don’t ride to town in Peterbilts in that part of the country. “Well, if we buy some calvies today we will need a Peterbilt to get them home.” Was her reply
Everyone calls livestock haulers a different name. Some common ones are, Bull hauler, cow mobile, punch hole, bull rack, pot, and evidently as we saw around Christmas time slaughter truck
First lets make one thing clear, slaughter does not take place on these trucks, just in case there is someone gullible enough to think that. There is no refrigeration to cool the meat which would be essential for the slaughter process. Second, livestock have to walk off that trailer in order to be sold. If an animal can not walk off that trailer under its own power, by law, it can’t enter the food supply.
There will be that one fateful day in every critter’s life when it will take that ride to a packing facility. Most of the hauling these trucks do, does not end at a packer’s door.
Most of the hauling that is done in the cattle biz is transporting the cattle to different phases of production.
On my operation in particular, these trucks haul cattle to my place from an auction where I purchased the cattle. Some of the cattle will stay in the home pens and some go out to pasture for the growing phase. I will sometimes hire a big truck to haul them to pasture for me. It would take me ten or more trips with my pickup and a big truck can do it in two. This gets it done quickly and greatly reduces the stress on the cattle, since they don’t need to be sorted off into small bunches all day long while I haul them.
When I decide its time I will load these cattle onto a Pot again and have them shipped to an auction where they will be sold, and then loaded again to go to a feed lot.
Think about this. These cattle have been hauled several times to different locations and there has been nothing but growth and promotion of life.
Some people use these trucks just to haul cattle out to summer pasture and back home in the late fall.
The trailers have many different features, all designed for the comfort of the livestock, convenience for the driver, and safety.
Since its winter time I’ll start with the panels the drivers add to the side of the trailer. These panels are made of plastic and are corrugated like card board. They simply slide into holders on the side of the trailer that hold them in place. This keeps the air warm inside the trailer. Their body heat warms it up. Even when it well below freezing, you will have to take your coat off once the trailer is half loaded. They are that effective! The driver will stop and check on the stock from time to time, and if need be he can add more panels to make it warmer, or if he determines they are getting to hot he can remove some panels to regulate the temperature better, and make it more comfortable for the stock.
The truck and trailer has an air ride suspension, which makes the ride smooth and comfortable. To help make the rid more comfortable the driver will avoid braking hard. Show the animals some respect and don’t cut off a livestock truck, okay.
Drivers will often times put down some wood shavings or saw dust before loading. This does two things. One it reduces the noise of the animal’s hooves on the aluminum floor, and second, it helps to absorb moisture. This prevents the floor from getting slick, so animals don’t fall down. A good driver can feel it when an animal lays down, and he will stop and get the animal back up, so other animals can’t step on it and cause injury.
There are ramps on these trailers to get the animals into the different compartments. The guys that haul most of my stock have ordered these ramps to be a little longer. These longer ramps are less steep, which is easier for the stock to get up and down. There is also funnel gates inside the trailer to guide the animals where to go.
Each compartment has a gate to close it off. Some of the bigger compartments have gates in them to make them smaller. This allows stock to be kept separate for ownership, or to keep bigger animals separate from smaller ones. This prevents the big ones from injuring the small ones. All these gates have a slam latch. What that is, is a latch that automatically locks when the gate is slammed against it. This is for safety, so an animal can’t hit the gate and cause it to come back and hit the driver. Think about it, if a 1400# steer hits that gate hard it can seriously injure the driver. I’ve even seen trailers where there is a release latch on the outside of the trailer so the driver never has to get in to open them.
Some trailers have roof hatches. They will open these, to help let the hot air escape out the top of the trailer. Again this is for the comfort of the animals. On chilly mornings I have seen steam coming out the top of those roof hatches. By allowing the steam to escape it won’t settle on the animals, which may cause them to get a chill later, if they get soaking wet and then cold.
One outfit that hauls most of my cattle, has sprinklers on their trailers. They use these mostly for pigs. On a really hot day they can hook a hose up to the sprinkler and cool down the inside of the trailer. If you know pigs you can bet they will find the sprinkler and get a drink while they wait. These guys have pulled over and hooked up a hose to cool down loads of stock. Sometimes they do it while waiting in line at a packing facility. Think of that. The pigs are waiting to be unloaded at a packer, and the driver is still doing all he can to make them comfortable, even in the last hour.
I recently saw a trailer that had an airline going inside the axels. Then it goes to the rim so the driver can pump air into the tires. This is convenient for the driver and is a safety feature for him, other drivers on the road and the livestock being transported.
I am now at 1200 words and I have not even written of the safety features that are in place for the drivers protection. When you stop and think of all the thought that has gone into the design of these trailers from a safety and convenience standpoint it seems silly to call them slaughter trucks.
As one final thought, I have seen the videos the animal rights groups have put out. Most people get distracted with the point of the video, and never really look at what they are watching. Most of those trucks are old models, and the people are often times wearing clothes form the sixties or seventies. Both the trucking industry and livestock industry have made huge strides since that time period