How many stockers, or mother cows, can I put in a livestock trailer? I realize trailers vary in length and width, but as a general rule, how do you estimate what is safe and responsible?
That's a great question. My first recommendation is that you consider going through your local Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program sometime in the future. They will do a thorough job of answering that question while addressing other transportation issues such as low-stress handling and working in the heat.
There are hauling guidelines based on animal weights and trailer size you can look at to help you determine number of animals to load. To give you an idea, let's look at a stock trailer with a compartment weight of 8,000 pounds. If you are hauling cows that weigh 1,200 each, you could put six head in that trailer. This doesn't include their calves, just the cows. Logically, the bigger the trailer and the higher the compartment weight, the more animals you could carry. I recommend erring to the side of underloading, especially when conditions are hot. Never exceed the gross vehicle weight rating for your truck and stock trailer.
The BQA Master Cattle Transporter Guide contains all the details on this subject, including charts that look at eight different trailer compartment weights with corresponding number of cattle that can be safely and humanely carried. You can find the information at www.bqa.org/Media/BQA/Docs/master_cattle_transporter_guide-digital.pdf.
Of course, all of this means you need to know weights on the cattle you're intending to haul. We'll talk about the importance of a good set of on-farm scales in another column.
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