Regular care and maintenance of stock trailers benefits livestock producersWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Stock trailers are tools, explains University of Tennessee Emeritus Professor Clyde Lane in a Drovers CattleNetwork web video.
“We use them for a very important purpose – getting animals from point A to point B, whether it’s to market or to another pasture,” Lane says.
Like any tool, stock trailers require proper care and maintenance to maintain longevity and ensure safety.
“We want to follow our Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines, so we don’t injure the animals or get injured ourselves, and also so we put out a good image to the public,” he notes.
When cattle are moved along the roads, they are visible to the public, and it’s important to portray a positive image about how the cattle are being treated.
“We don’t use these trailers every day,” Lane remarks. “We use our trailer, park it, and the next time we need it we go hook up to it, use it and park it again. We don’t really take care of the maintenance that is required.”
One maintenance routine that may be overlooked, for example, is inspecting the wheels and tires.
“The tires get old. They may get cracked or we may not have enough air pressure in them,” Lane comments.
Problems with the floor of the trailer are also a possibility, especially in steel trailers with wooden floors.
“There are a lot of little things we can take care of from a maintenance standpoint that make the whole program go so much better,” he states.
Keeping trailers well maintained can reduce stress for both people and animals. Problems that occur with a full load can put producers and livestock in a difficult situation.
“I have never seen an accident or breakdown not happen at the most inopportune time,” Lane says.
Keeping spare parts accessible is also beneficial if a problem occurs with a trailer full of cattle.
“A lot of goosenecks store the spare up in the neck, which is a good and safe place to keep it, but if we are fully loaded and we get a flat, we have get into that trailer with those cattle and get the tire out – and it’s going to be heavy,” he explains.
Lane also warns that poor planning can affect a driver’s mood, which can adversely affect the livestock.
“Attitude means a lot when we are driving because we will drive at a much safer pace,” he notes. “We shouldn’t take the cattle out for a drive right after we’ve had a fight with our wife. That’s just not a good time to do it.”
Drivers who haven’t been irritated by maintenance issues or other problems are more likely to take turns a little smoother, slow down a less abruptly and speed up a little easier. That gives animals a chance to be a little more stable when moving from point A to point B.
Remembering to keep up on the care and maintenance of stock trailers will benefit producers and their livestock when it comes time to move animals.
“I think we all want to and I think we will take care of our trailers, but it’s easy to put it off when we’re not using that piece of equipment every day,” says Lane.