Care­ful truck­ing pays in cat­tle trade

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - FRONT PAGE - JON RADOJKOVIC

The need to trans­port cat­tle has led to re­search into the best way to move them with­out caus­ing un­due stress and in­jury, and par­tic­i­pants at Beef Day dur­ing Grey Bruce Farm­ers’ Week in Elm­wood heard some of the re­sults.

The lat­est sta­tis­tics in­di­cate that Bruce County has about 111,000 beef cat­tle, which in­cludes cows, heifers, steers un­der one year old and calves. Steers rep­re­sent 50,000 of the to­tal. Grey is slightly lower at 93,000 beef cat­tle with 38,000 be­ing calves.

Al­though some of the cat­tle are sold through lo­cal auc­tion houses, such as at Keady, and at provin­cially in­spected abat­toirs, most are trans­ported to ei­ther the fed­er­ally in­spected Cargill abat­toir in Guelph, where 1,500 cat­tle are slaugh­tered ev­ery day, or fur­ther afield to the U.S. De­pend­ing on the value of the Cana­dian dol­lar to its Amer­i­can coun­ter­part, up to 40 per­cent of beef cat­tle can be shipped there.

Trans­porta­tion over long dis­tances and keep­ing the cat­tle healthy is a key fac­tor es­pe­cially as there have been some in­ci­dents of peo­ple pho­tograph­ing cat­tle in trucks that looked to be un­der stress and putting it up on so­cial me­dia.

“We wanted to put the sci­ence into trans­port­ing live­stock,” said Dr. Karen SchwartzkopfGenswein, a re­search sci­en­tist with Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada, who works in Leth­bridge, Alta. Most of the fund­ing for the re­search came from the Cana­dian Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion.

Many of the re­sults from the study are things most beef farm­ers and trans­port truck­ers would know al­ready. But SchwartzkopfGenswein put num­bers to those fac­tors.

In Europe reg­u­la­tions state that live­stock can­not be trans­ported in trucks for longer than eight hours. In the U.S. it’s 28 hours, and in Canada it’s 52 hours. It’s Canada’s size that leads to the the longer times al­lowed in a trans­port truck here, but for On­tario most des­ti­na­tions can be reached in less than the 52-hour max­i­mum.

But Schwartzkopf-Genswein pointed out cat­tle that are in a truck af­ter 30 hours have used up the food in their stom­achs, are de­hy­drated and be­gin to have more stress and weight loss. She rec­om­mended a 24 hour max­i­mum.

“Loading cat­tle on to trucks [is] also one of the most stress­ful times,” said Genswein. She ad­vised that farm­ers not be too rough on the an­i­mals, min­i­mize any cat­tle prod use, and don’t yell. “Stressed cat­tle are more prone to in­jury,” she said.

Heart mon­i­tors in­stalled on trans­ported cat­tle in­di­cated that it takes a min­i­mum of 30 min­utes for the cat­tle’s heart rate to go down to nor­mal.

The study found that tem­per­a­tures above 15 C and below -15C , led to the most stress and in­jury to live­stock be­ing trans­ported.

Driver ex­pe­ri­ence also counted, as the re­search found driv­ers with more than 10 years ex­pe­ri­ence had fewer in­jured cat­tle.

One of the worst sit­u­a­tions Schwartzkopf-Genswein found was when trucks had to wait for long pe­ri­ods at U.S. bor­der cross­ings, when heat can rise sub­stan­tially in­side the trucks

Un­load­ing was also im­por­tant, as cat­tle wait­ing for more than 30 min­utes to un­load were more prone to in­jury.

FILE PHOTO

A farmer loads beef cat­tle into a truck in this Post­media file photo.

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