Tips for Shipping Drought-Stressed Cattle

Tips for shipping and hauling drought-stressed cattle

By Clay Parsons, Owner, Marana Stockyards and Livestock Auction

May 21, 2021

These are tough times in the ranching business. All of us ranchers are having to cut back on our cow herds. We need to take extra precautions and different steps when handling, hauling and shipping drought-stressed cattle. 

Here at Marana Stockyards, we have put special drought-related cattle handling procedures in place, as follow:

  1. We are working cattle slower and giving them more room in the pens and crowding areas.
  2. Basically, we let older weaker cows and bulls move at their own pace. 
  3. We are not feeding straight #1 or #2 alfalfa. We blend grass hay with alfalfa, because the cattle coming in now in most cases have not had rich feed in over a year. It disrupts their system and goes right through them. That does more harm than good and causes dehydration.
  4. Do not feed your cattle heavy the night before hauling.  The digested feed turns the trailer floor into a slick surface. 
  5. Conveyor belt mats in a trailer are a no-no. As soon as manure and urine make contact, its like an ice rink. Keep a sand pile around. Shovel sand into the floor of your trailer to help with traction. 
  6. If you have partition gates in your trailer, use them to separate your stronger cattle from the weaker ones.
  7. Haul 1-2 less head than normal. If one does go down it will have a better chance of making it if it doesnt get stepped on.
  8. Any questionable cattle should stay at home till they get stronger. Remember thats not the only trip a weak animal has to make. If its questionable to you, it will be questionable to the buyers too. It will reflect in the price and in some cases no bid.

Remember we are in this together. If you see a fellow rancher making animal welfare mistakes, tell them why you are concerned. Remember only the bad stuff gets put in the newspapers and on TV; not the good things we do for our cowherds and wildlife. Handling mistakes can negatively reflect on all of us. Pray for rain.