As temperatures soar remember to transport livestock with care
Failure to consider hot weather transporting needs of livestock can lead to heat related health issues. Consider these tips to keep livestock comfortable.
With high temperatures, heat stress can occur in livestock and it is important to offer lots of fresh clean water to livestock. Providing fresh water to livestock should be the first priority for water use on a farm in hot weather. Provide additional space at the water trough for more animals to drink at one time and expect water consumption to increase. Furthermore, some animals are picky and will not consume water that smells or tastes unusual. Being aware of this possibility in advance may allow you to bring water along on your trip that your animal is accustomed to drinking.
Other concerns with high temperatures relate to when the livestock have to be transported:
- Livestock should be hauled during the cool part of the day – mornings or evenings – if at all possible.
- Make sure all equipment is in working order (truck, trailer, tires are appropriately inflated, etc. etc.) This may prevent a potential breakdown in your transportation route.
- Allow adequate time for loading animals on the trailer and transportation to ensure arrival at your destination is timely.
- Provide as much ventilation as possible. Open all trailer vents and/or sliding windows as wide as possible for maximum air flow.
- Keep the trailer moving to avoid build-up of heat. It takes only a short period of time during a hot summer day for the temperature to rapidly rise in a stationary trailer. In the case of transporting livestock for exhibition, it is important to load everything on the trailer prior to loading the livestock. After the livestock are loaded, the trailer can start moving immediately and not have to stand idle while more equipment is loaded.
- If a stop is necessary during your journey, park in the shade.
- Do not overstock livestock in a trailer. This could lead to injury, bruising or create heat stress. Make multiple trips if necessary.
- Do not allow species to co-mingle inside the trailer.
- Always follow humane animal handling practices to ensure safety and welfare of both humans and animals.
Swine transportation - In hot weather, swine should be sprinkled down with water and then allowed to cool by evaporation (Dr. Temple Grandin). It is important to gradually adjust livestock to cool sprinkling or rinsing and not shock their systems with sudden blasts of cold water. Straw bedding or extremely wet shavings should NOT be used, this may create even more heat and humidity inside the trailer. Pork Quality Assurance Plus recommends using damp shavings when hauling pigs during hot weather. Frozen two liter bottles of water can also be added to the trailer to help cool the pigs.
Equine transportation – Drop down windows of your respective trailer provide excellent ventilation. However, only leave them dropped if screens or bars are in place in the window opening to prevent horses from hanging their heads out the window.
More information on transporting livestock to the fair and other articles can be found at the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science website. Additional information on heat stress in cattle is also available on the MSUE News for Agriculture website.