This Tip of the Week has been brought to you by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association (DCHA).
It's been an active winter season across the country, especially throughout the Midwest and northeastern U.S. When transporting heifers during this weather, it is important to keep them safe and as stress free as possible.
Here are some general transportation tips to follow during the winter season:
- Protect livestock from wind chill during cold weather. However, it is important to maintain adequate ventilation. Covering one-half to two-thirds of the openings in the vehicle will aid in reducing the wind chill.
- Keep animals as dry as possible. Also keep in mind that animals weigh more when they are wet.
- Protect animals from prolonged exposure to freezing rain and sleet. Precipitation in this form can be deadly to animals. Even a thick winter coat will not protect them against chilling caused by saturation of freezing precipitation.
- The transportation vehicle should be cleaned before loading healthy heifers.
- The floor of the vehicle should be prepared so as to provide secure footing and absorption of urine and manure. Sawdust, wood shavings, straw or sand are recommended for floor preparation.
- Keep transit time to a minimum and avoid any unnecessary stops.
- The staff handling the animals should be trained and competent. Transportation of animals is already a stressful time; handlers should not use violence or aggression toward animals.
For more on transportation advice, please refer to the Gold Standards III.