With fair season underway, it’s a good time to consider the safety of yourself and your animals when loading a livestock trailer.
Don’t get in a hurry. Loading animals can be frustrating at times, but it is important to be calm and patient so that you don’t scare or stress the animal. Making sure the trailer is functioning properly ahead of time may avoid even more frustration.
1 Basic maintenance
Check brakes, tires, lights and electric wiring connections, and any other basic operating functions to make sure they are working properly. Make sure all latches and safety chains between the truck and trailer are fastened securely. Check the trailer floor to make sure it is sturdy and clean, and make sure there is proper traction to keep animals from slipping.
2 Know your limits
Make sure the trailer you are using is capable of hauling the livestock you are transporting and make sure the truck pulling the trailer can handle the load. Take into account the weight of the trailer, the animals being loaded and the extra supplies (fair/tack boxes, extra feed, etc.).
Also, know your personal limits. If you are unsure or uncomfortable driving and maneuvering a livestock trailer, find someone who is. You can train yourself by working with a small unloaded trailer moving forward, backward, and on different road types.
3 Loading the trailer
Once you have determined the trailer is working properly, it is time to load the animals. Look for any distractions that could deter the animal from entering the trailer such as random objects, large step-ups, noise or people. When using a bumper pull trailer, load larger animals first, putting them in front of the trailer axles.
Tie animals using a slip knot at head height. Make sure the animal can see you enter and exit the trailer. Be aware of your position in the trailer and avoid getting pinned between an animal and trailer wall or gate. Make sure all gates are closed and latched tightly.
Driving a trailer demands your full attention. Keep extra space between you and the car in front of you, as braking times increase with a full trailer. You can’t control other drivers, but you should be aware of other drivers on the road at all times.
Keep a safe speed and take curves and turns slowly to ensure comfort and safety of the animals. Avoid traveling in severe weather when possible and consider transporting animals in the mornings or evenings to avoid the heat of the day during summer months.
Sources: Clemson Cooperative Extension, Livestock and Forages Newsletter; and eXtension, Livestock Trailer Safety.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
More Farming 101 columns:
- 5 things young farmers should know about finances
- The farm balance sheet
- 5 items for your farm’s cash flow statement
- Personal and business records: Keep them separate
- What to include in your farm business plan
- How to approach a lender: Tips for getting a farm loan
- How to use microloans to get your farm started
- Saving for the future: 6 tips for young farmers
- How to create a farm safety kit
- 5 tips for child safety on the farm
- 6 tips for livestock safety
- 5 ways to better understand tractor stability
- 6 farm equipment hacks
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