Who Here Has Experience Driving A Cattle Truck Or Hauling Other Stock?

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David Bacon's Comment
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Please let us know what you think of stock hauling. It sounds like a local job that you don't have to wait around for loading and unloading for long. Live animals, it would seem, are highly time-sensitive cargo and can't wait forever. They have legs and practically load and unload themselves. Any caveats on being a driver with livestock? Let us know the pros and cons of it. Oh, and hello from Tea, South Dakota!

IDMtnGal 's Comment
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Well, you made my morning. Yes, I drove a bull rack a number of years ago for the owner of Sinclair Oil and still haul cows, sheep and goats up to 1000 miles in my stock trailer.

Even if ranchers have a fancy alley system for loading, animals can get frightened or annoyed and do stupid stuff like turn around in the alley, jump over the sides, etc. Some animals do follow others nicely, but herd animals will have those that want to be dominant to the end of their life and they cause lots of problems with the other critters. Do you wait around? Sometimes, for hours while the critters wait in a corral and get antsy and aggravated.

How much driving experience do you have? Driving a live load of critters is like driving liquid in tankers, it moves...a lot. It's not for beginners.

Laura

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
David Bacon's Comment
member avatar

Well, you made my morning. Yes, I drove a bull rack a number of years ago for the owner of Sinclair Oil and still haul cows, sheep and goats up to 1000 miles in my stock trailer.

Even if ranchers have a fancy alley system for loading, animals can get frightened or annoyed and do stupid stuff like turn around in the alley, jump over the sides, etc. Some animals do follow others nicely, but herd animals will have those that want to be dominant to the end of their life and they cause lots of problems with the other critters. Do you wait around? Sometimes, for hours while the critters wait in a corral and get antsy and aggravated.

How much driving experience do you have? Driving a live load of critters is like driving liquid in tankers, it moves...a lot. It's not for beginners.

Laura

I drove a dry-van semi in the service a few times but no civilian CDL experience yet. I might have to start off with something more basic as dry-van freight hauling to get some stick-time experience before getting into those shaking live animal loads. I did not realize the livestock travelled that far from the farm or ranch to the nearest slaughterhouse. I feel sorry for the poor animals that have to be cooped up that long in the truck, especially in extreme heat or cold weather. If I ever were to get into hauling livestock, I would want the situations where their confinement to the stock trailers would be as brief as humanly possible. I have this idyllic notion that stock drivers are relatively close to home all the time. During hot weather seasons, I would prefer to transport the critters in the relative coolness of the nighttime. I wonder why the slaughterhouse is up to 1,000 miles from the ranch, farm or feedlot anyway. Just curious. Is stock driving strictly owner-operator? Are there company-hired drivers that do that kind of work?

Laura, did you ever stop during long trips to let the animals out of the truck at corrals along the way to feed, drink, relieve themselves, stretch their legs and get fresh air? Can animals lie down and sleep comfortably on board the truck? I gather from reading model train magazines in the past that railroads do, or historically did, this practice of periodic rest breaks along the route whenever they haul live animals.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
BK's Comment
member avatar

My thought is that the 1000 mile hauls were not to a slaughterhouse. Maybe transporting breeding stock, etc., not in a semi trailer, but in a smaller trailer pulled by a heavy duty pick up.

Laura, how close is my guess and is there a prize for that? Lol

Davy A.'s Comment
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My ex wife had horses, hunters and jumpers, hauled them frequently. Just a dodge ram 3500 and a smaller two horse with tack room. They moved the trailer around quite a bit. I could only imagine it would be really bad in a semi. As far as unloading and loading them. I lived and worked on a historic farm in West Virginia, was restoring the buildings on it, ended up working the farm too. We had contract cattle, they are notoriously difficult to load and unload. Semis would unload and load at our head gates, some times it went smooth, but usually one or two could jamb the whole thing up and turn it into chaos. Also messy and smelly job, not recommended to do hung over in the morning.

David Bacon's Comment
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Yes, I just thought about that. Cows on board semis aren't only just being hauled to "hamburger heaven" from the spread or feedlot. They could be shipped for other purposes as well. They could be newly-purchased milk cows on the way to a newly-started dairy or something. In American history, I was taught that beef cows had to once travel by train about 1,500 miles from Texas ranches to Kansas City, Missouri back during the late 1800's and this largely replaced the old-fashioned trail drives. Kansas City was the big hub for the beef market. I would think maybe that it is desired to slaughter the meat animals as close to the customers for consumption as possible to maximize freshness but good beef is supposed to be hung and aged in meat lockers anyway. Before diesel-electric refrigeration, earlier reefer rail cars were cooled by blocks of ice dropped through hatches up top. I Googled "cattle truck" just for fun to look at pictures of them. It seems that many more trucks with stock trailers on them are pictured with sleepers than with day cabs. This livestock driving job might not be as "local" as most laymen as myself might imagine. Some of these sleeper-equipped tractors might also haul other types of loads than live animals too. They might do a combination of local and regional. My brother is into model railroading. He has a scene where a cattle truck delivers cows from a local ranch to a local railhead with a feedlot. Both the ranch and the feedlot have those fancy cattle alleys with spiraling loading ramps. Mounted cowboys with horses and German shepherd dogs drive the cows into the chute back at the ranch for loading onto the semi. The model stock trailer is a double decker wooden unit, not a modern aluminum Wilson with fancy tricky compartments. The freight train comes to pick the cattle up from the feedlot to the hidden staging area of the layout. Cowboys on foot shoo the cows on board the train. The locomotive slowly moves each of the 5 stock cars to the loading chute and cows are loaded onto the train through doors on the sides of the cars, one car at a time. It is imagined that the cows take a death ride on the train in wooden stock cars to a pretended "porterhouse palace", the slaughterhouse, of course.

I thought at first that driving cattle in a semi would be largely a job with plenty of home time and little waiting around in the truck. Laura has just shed some light on this for me. By her revelations here, it is not such an "easy-peazy" job as I originally had thought. I thought driving cattle for a living might be more fun, more interesting, than boring stuff like dry vans too but Laura states its risky business reserved for more seasoned drivers. Drivers also might have to deal with dangerous animals that kick and butt their horns. Depending upon whom you work for, I gather that not all cattle loads are no-touch. I just saw a cattle loading video today. The driver has to sometimes get inside the trailer with the nasty cows and their manure and deal with all those trick gates, partitions and pins while risking getting brained by an angry cow's hoof or gored by a horn. Cows are also stubborn and stupid. I used to think not long ago that just cowboys, ranch workers, feedlot workers, dealt with the actual loading of cows and the driver just handled the steering wheel. I'm now learning quick the more I study up on it. It's now clear to me that cow hauling is definitely not for cowards. The "steaks" are really high. I will remember and appreciate those brave cattle drivers with boots on the dirty trailer floor (boots on the "ground" beef??, bad cow pun) each and every time I chomp on a bacon double cheeseburger or T bone from now on!

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Who knew Todd was into cattle?

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar
Is stock driving strictly owner-operator? Are there company-hired drivers that do that kind of work?

Yes some company drivers pull livestock. I frequently see them hiring in my area (north of des moines). I've also seen JB Hunt and a company called Trans Pork pulling them. Seeing those trailers getting pulled by a freightliner or Volvo just doesn't have anywhere near the same bad ass look as the long nose Pete's or KW.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
David Bacon's Comment
member avatar

Is there anything POSITIVE about driving stock trucks? I've heard a bunch of negatives so far. Which type of hauling/company would give a driver maximum home time and minimum time in a sleeper, and preferably, minimal touching of loads, and simplified securement work, if not livestock per se? It seems like this would be a trucking outfit full of day cabs in its fleet, maybe. How about intermodal driving? Is there short-haul intermodal?

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Bumping this…

Who knew Todd was into cattle?

…or model trains.

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