Best Practices for Handling and Transporting Cattle in Hot Weather
As the scorching summer sun bears down on the vast landscapes of Queensland, cattle producers are yet again faced with the challenge of safely handling and transporting their livestock in the heat. Efficient and humane practices during loading, unloading, and transportation are crucial to minimise stress on the animals and ensure their well-being.
We want to suggest some of the best practices tailored for the unique conditions of hot weather in the region, offering insights into loading and unloading procedures. We have also included some tips that might be useful to reduce cattle stress during transportation.
Handling Cattle in the Heat
- Early Morning and Late Evening Operations
Schedule cattle handling activities during the cooler parts of the day, preferably early morning or late evening. This can help to alleviate the effects of high temperatures on both cattle and handlers.
- Provide Adequate Shade and Ventilation
When working with cattle in holding areas or cages, ensure the availability of shade to protect them from direct sunlight. Adequate ventilation is equally important, as it helps to dissipate heat and keeps the animals more comfortable.
- Hydration Stations
Always provide access to clean and cool water for the cattle. Proper hydration is crucial in preventing heat stress. Additionally, consider using water misting systems in holding areas to cool the environment.
- Gentle Handling Techniques
Adopt calm and low-stress handling techniques. Sudden movements and loud noises can agitate cattle, increasing stress levels. Patience and a calm demeanour are key to successful and stress-free handling.
Loading and Unloading Procedures
- Well-Designed Loading Ramps
Invest in well-designed loading ramps that provide a gradual incline, reducing the risk of slips and falls. The surface should be non-slip to ensure secure footing for the cattle. Loading ramps come in different types and functions, such as the loading ramp, mobile loading ramp, and double decker loading ramp. They facilitate easy stock flow and movement to minimise stress while transporting cattle.
- Use of Non-Slip Flooring in Trailers
Line trailers with non-slip flooring materials to prevent injuries during loading and unloading. Cattle can be uneasy on smooth surfaces, especially when entering or exiting a trailer.
- Avoid Overcrowding
Overcrowding is a major stress factor during loading. Ensure that the number of cattle being loaded allows for comfortable spacing, preventing injuries and reducing the likelihood of aggressive behaviour.
- Loading with Patience
Take the time to load cattle patiently and calmly. Rushing the process can lead to accidents and heightened stress levels for both the cattle and the handlers. Utilise low-stress handling techniques to encourage a smooth loading process.
- Minimise Handling Aids
Limit the use of prods or other handling aids during loading and unloading. Excessive use of such tools can escalate stress levels and compromise the safety of both cattle and handlers.
Tips for Minimising Stress During Transportation
- Proper Ventilation in Trailers
Ensure trailers are well-ventilated to prevent overheating during transportation. Adequate airflow is crucial, especially in hot weather conditions. Completely closed trailers can cause the cattle to get agitated causing them to become violent. It could also cause exhaustion which can adversely affect their health.
- Avoid Overloading
Overloading trailers can lead to discomfort, stress and increased risk of injury. Adhere to recommended weight limits and provide adequate space for each animal to stand comfortably.
- Scheduled Rest Stops
Plan for scheduled rest stops during long journeys. This allows cattle to rest, rehydrate, and recover from the stresses of transportation. Choose shaded areas for breaks to shield them from the sun.
- Monitoring Temperature Inside the Trailer
Use technology such as temperature monitoring devices inside the trailer. This helps ensure that the internal temperature remains within safe limits, preventing heat stress during transit.
- Avoid Traveling During Peak Heat
Whenever possible, plan transportation schedules to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Traveling in the early morning or late evening can significantly reduce the impact of heat on both cattle and handlers.
- Hydration During Transit
Offer water to the cattle during transportation, especially for longer journeys. Consider adding electrolytes to the water to help replenish lost nutrients and maintain hydration.
- Emergency Preparedness
Be prepared for emergencies during transportation. Carry necessary equipment such as first aid kits, tools for minor repairs, and emergency contact information. Quick response to unexpected situations can prevent further stress and injuries.
Handling and transporting cattle in hot weather demand a combination of thoughtful planning, effective infrastructure, and a commitment to low-stress handling techniques. Try implementing these practices at your facility during handling and transporting for a smoother experience this summer.
Prioritising the well-being of the animals and implementing these practices, can help cattle producers in the region. As caretakers of these animals, these tips can help you ensure their safety and comfort throughout every stage of the production process, even in the face of the relentless Australian sun.
Steel Supplies Charters Towers can guide you through the process and help prepare better for the summer months ahead. Get in touch with us now at (+61) 7 4787 4355 or tell us more about your needs here.