Photo: Mike Murchison
So why now? Why haul cows at my age? Hell, I’m 61 years old. I should be looking for the least amount of physical stress that might be available to me.
Geez boys! Let’s go haul some critters that can knock you straight into next week if you take your eyes off them.
The sound of the hooves on the aluminum trailer floor. The ear cracking banging as they tap dance their way up, down, under and over the ramps. The ballin’ cries letting you know they ain’t too happen getting shuffled out of their domicile at 5 in the morning……That by the way means I got up at 4 am.
They say that light bends as it travels through time. Or something like that. The will of cattle can be a tad stiffer. Especially when they don’t want to take a ride.
Now, don’t you worry. They are handled in a concise, humane manner. No screaming or yelling. No excessive use of prods. Those only get used very sparingly when the lead cow decides to block the entrance to the trailer. Stubborn.
Vets with USDA on the American side check them when we cross. All have to be standing once loaded, when rolling, and when stopped.
Any cow that falls and cant get up is called a ‘downer’ and you look foolish. Amateur and may be in for a jaw jacking when you get to the processing plant. Animal welfare is serious stuff in this business.
Stress can cause a load of cows to lose weight (out the back end) and a carrier is only allowed a small percentile, something like 3 per cent of the cow’s body weight.
In case you’re wondering, 1800 pounds is the average market weight.
So, we go slow and easy on the brakes and fuel. Give ourselves lots of time to start and stop so the critters don’t get jerked off their feet.
Just think of a TTC bus driver leaving a bus stop or coming to a red light. No stomping or slamming of pedals.
You know, I’m not sure why I decided to do some livestock hauling. Change is good at times. Its good to be learning on a continuous basis.
Believe me. If you start working with big stubborn creatures like cows, you best learn fast. Eyes open, feet ready and shoulders straight: your objective is to put them into something they don’t want to be put in . Keep them in there until you get to where you’re going and then convince them to walk off your trailer in a nice orderly manner.
For the most part. it goes okay. No whoopin’ and hollering’. Nice and easy will get it done. I’ve seen little old ranchers guide a 2000lb bull into a stock trailer just by soft spoken words, body motions and placing himself in a spot just off to the bulls hind flank.
From my perspective, the people in the cattle business from the pen riders to the vet to the trucker to intake receiver are a special breed. Down to earth, caring and top notch at wanting the best practices used to haul livestock to where they have to go.
Yup. That steak, hamburger and ribs in the grocery store cooler had some good people helping it find its way through the supply chain. I like to think I did all the right things to hold up my end of the deal.