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Preparing for Cattle Transport Saves Time, Money and Stress

Preparing for Cattle Transport Saves Time, Money and Stress
By Jesse Fulton M.S., Director – Producer Education; National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff

With fall just around the corner, many producers should start thinking about shipping this year’s calf crop and the move of cattle to fall or winter pastures. There are several important factors that should be considered when cattle are being transported including loading conditions, time in transit, weather conditions, comingling, segregation of different sexes and weight classes into separate trailer compartments, driver experience, and animal condition.

Shipping is one of the most stressful times in a calf’s life. A past Beef Checkoff funded Beef Quality Assurance surveyindicated that feeder calves traveling to Texas or Nebraska feedyards traveled 468 ± 415 miles. The greater amounts of stress on cattle being shipped may increase the percentage of shrink loss of the animal. The stress from shipping can also have an impact on calves’ immunity and prolong the amount of time calves are off feed following shipping. With these disadvantageous effects related to stress, it is important that producers work to make the shipping process as stress free as possible.

One resource available to producers to prepare them for shipping cattle is the Beef Checkoff funded Beef Quality Assurance Transportation (BQAT) program and on-line training modules located at www.BQA.org. These modules can help producers improve shipping methods and reduce stress on cattle during the shipping period. This resource provides checklists that shippers can work through to help make shipping cattle safe for both personnel and cattle.

It is important the producer, and the industry as a whole, that cattle are humanely handled when transported. Producers should review the tools and resources available in BQAT to ensure they are following the best management practices to safely, and humanely ship cattle.