Livestock Hauling Update

Topic 33208 | Page 1

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Cade C.'s Comment
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I orginally came here to post about potentially striking out on my own as an owner/operator. Obviously now more than ever, insurance and new authority are barriers to entry if you're on your own and young, which I am. So I started working for a smaller livestock hauling outfit, roughly 5-10 trucks at any given time out rolling.

These are some of the best folks I've ever worked with. A great mix of understanding the modern environment around animal welfare, driver safety, and balancing a life with a family, but also having that "old school" mentality of getting things done and driving some sharp rigs.

I've been fortunate in the last couple months to get a pretty good mix of everything from long stretches on interstate to picking my way down gravel or two-track road with a load on board. I haven't really left the mid section of the US, but my "web" continues to expand every week, going to a new place or on a different run. I've gotten to run with other trucks and on my own, and enjoy aspects of both.

I will say, 250 miles felt like an awfully long drive on my first week. Today, I made that same run and it felt like a cake walk. So I am hopefully "wearing in" to the groove. Obviously, stock hauling is a little unique in the motor freight world. Once you have a live creature on board, the wheels pretty well need to turn non-stop to the destination. There is a wide array of nuance to this within different routes and different customers. But in general, the goal is getting them there smoothly and rapidly to keep them healthy and avoid "shrink."

Another thing I knew of but hadn't yet partaken in was washing out a full size pot. That is quite a chore depending on the weather and type of stock hauled and for how long. The gist is, I am very thankful to those fellows that don a rain suit and wash out trucks for a living all day long. By and large, they do a really nice job, but I also get my share at the local washout to try and save a dollar where we can.

Sum total, I love doing it. The time away from family hasn't been nearly as tough as we were prepared for, and working out of a central hub where we recently purchased a home, I am able to be home more often than I anticipated. So really, I have to say this is a pretty ideal scenario, and I look forward to what this stage of life and work has to offer, and of course what I can offer to these fine folks and their nationwide customer base.

I feel pretty fortunate to be doing what one fellow driver described as "the top job in trucking," I think referring the legendary history and unique aspects of bull haulers/cow wagons/cattle pots. I don't for a second think of myself as all that and a bag of chips out on the road, but two big chrome stacks and 53' of beef trailing behind does make one feel like he's a part of a long and storied history and helping to write the next chapter.

In any case, it was reccomended I share an update at some point about the specialty aspects of stock hauling, and there's some of it. Not to mention that in spite of our best efforts to load trailers properly and divide stock into proper compartments, your load is alive and moving. So, beware curves and shoulders at your peril. I have two goals on the road, and that is to bring in the truck and trailer right side up and myself and the stock in good health.

Safe travels to all of you out there on the roads and holed up in the sleeper for the night. I fortunately get a hot shower and my own bed this evening, and we'll crack out again on a new adventure tomorrow!


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pianoman's Comment
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Congrats on the gig man, sounds pretty sweet! I also live in CO and have thought about hauling cattle before. I’m a sucker for strong pretty trucks and once you get a taste it’s hard to go back 😂 You should post some pics of your rig here..we’d love to see it!

Whereabouts do you live in CO? I’m in the Springs and we have a mod on here, Davy, who’s also from CO (I think he’s in the Springs too?) I haul cement powder for a local outfit and I was a little worried when I was reading your other thread about construction slowing down here. We were slammed last year at my gig and now it seems like there’s not enough work to go around. I haven’t been able to tell if the work just slowed down or if we just hired too many new guys. We just acquired dozens of new trucks and expanded significantly this past year but this spring has been weird so far


Operating While Intoxicated

Davy A.'s Comment
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It's definitely interesting to read about. Im In the springs too. (Currently on vacation in Romania and Germany).

I lived in WVA for a while and we managed contract cattle and sheep. I've hauled them and horses around in smaller trailers and they would rock the hell out of the trailer. Do they do the same to the big trailers?

BK's Comment
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I don’t know if cattle haulers experience bovine “surge “ or not. As Davy wondered. It would be interesting to find out.

I will say that I roam the meat country and I rarely pass a cattle truck. They all drive about 75 and pass me like I’m standing still. Sometimes their driving practices are reckless.

However, I get paid to haul dead cow, so I know somebody has to haul the live ones to their death.

Cade C.'s Comment
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Sorry I was late to the replies folks. Between getting a family settled into a new home and trying to make miles to get the income rolling, I've been a little busy as of late.

I'm way on the east side of Colorado, about 13 miles from the Kansas border. I formerly did run a crane over in Colorado Springs for my dad. Thing are significantly slower than the last 3 years. Since I've left, Dad has pretty much kept up with everything with just one machine. The cow hauling deal is sort of fast then slow then fast then slow. Freight is a weird deal right now, but obviously there's a little shallower pool of livestock haulers. Working for an established outfit helps a lot.

I'd say the main thing is keeping the truck and trailer clean and sharp, and that takes a little extra effort maybe over pulling a reefer for a big box trucking outfit. But there's the pride and comraderie that's a pretty excellent benefit. I think these guys would do about anything for eachother.

Pulling liquid fertilizer, there was surge even with the baffles. But it was predictable. Cattle, you never really can tell when they might get a wild hair to move around. Usually, you try to prepare them for a curve by entering it with a little pull in the direction of the turn, then "catching" the load as they get braced for the centrifugal force. But if there's a little extra pull on the wheel one way, the cattle will move back in the opposite direction, so you have to "catch" it before it compounds. Generally, a cattle trailer will lay over in a bad scenario over a reefer or dry van because the livestock will cram to one side and throw off the balance. Having a crystal ball to foresee 10 miles ahead of you would be mighty helpful! Of course I think we all could use one with big trucks.

Worst case with a secure load, you can lock 'em up to avoid a mess. But with cattle, locking the brakes likely throws down an animal or several, possibly injuring them severely. And I explained why taking the ditch isn't a great option with them scrambling around to repsond to trailer movement. So really, we do our best to stay out of sticky scenarios. To make up for extra caution in populated or sticky areas, we generally are moving at a pretty lively pace down the straight and level stretches. I suppose that's why most have had a cattle pot blow their doors off. More time on the road, more shrink, less money to the guy cutting our check.

But, as I said, we would just as soon observe the letter of the law in any and all scenarios, and the vast majority of the time, we operate like any other truck. It's simply the nuance of having a live animal on board that complicates matters at times.

I really enjoy it. Having too much fun, as Darryl Singletary said. Y'all stay safe, stay loaded.


A partition or separator within a liquid tank, used to inhibit the flow of fluids within the tank. During acceleration, turning, and braking, a large liquid-filled tank may produce unexpected forces on the vehicle due to the inertia of liquids.

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.


A refrigerated trailer.

PackRat's Comment
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These are great updates!

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