Proper handling of cattle during transport is important to Vance Kells, contract heifer grower in Satanta, Kan. After all, some heifers arriving at Circle Bar Heifer Ranch will have travelled 1,000 miles to get there.  

“What we like to do is make sure that the trailer is clean and disinfected, and that (handlers) use bedding of some sort,” he said during a panel discussion at the 2012 Dairy Calf & Heifer Conference in Visalia, Calif. Bedding helps give animals secure footing during transport, as well as absorbs moisture.

These practices are a direct reflection of guidelines in Section VI of the Gold Standards III, which Kells, south central regional director for DCHA, and other producers, university researchers, nutritionists, industry experts and extension agents across the country worked to develop.

If travelling for more than 24 hours with cattle four months of age and older, stop at a clean facility for a feed and water break, Kells says. Gold Standards III guidelines recommend this rest stop be at least five hours long.

It’s also important to have more than one driver on trips exceeding 11 hours and a back-up plan if a breakdown should occur. “If the truck goes down, you have to know where you can get those cattle off,” Kells says. “I don’t like to stand up in one place or lay down in one place for 24 hours” – something that also holds true for your cattle.

For more advice on making the transportation of heifers as stress-free as possible, please see the Gold Standards III. You also can find transportation and handling guidelines in Section II of the Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) manual.