Winter truck travel can hurt cattle

With winter looking like it will be hanging on for a while, it’s time to revisit the impacts of harsh weather on any cattle you plan to transport this season.
Winter truck travel can induce hypothermia—a severe reduction in deep body temperature that can cause death.
Temperature fluctuations of more than 20 degrees C (36 F) are very stressful to cattle. The cold stress is amplified when cattle’s hair coat becomes wet, robbing them of its insulating qualities.
Trucked cattle are especially susceptible when the temperature is around freezing and they are exposed to rain or freezing rain. Newly-weaned calves, in particular, need to be protected from both excess dampness and temperature fluctuations.
One solution is to truck cattle on dry, cold days. This helps their hair coat to retain its ability to insulate them against outside temperatures.
If you are planning to truck cattle during cold, wet weather, keep in mind how wet the cattle in back may become in transit.
Cattle raised outdoors adapt to the change of seasons by growing a winter hair coat. The temperature at which the animal starts to use energy to stay warm is referred to as the Lower Critical Temperature (LCT).
A dry, heavy winter coat will lower a cattle beast’s LCT down to minus-7 C (20 F). In an exposed animal, however, the effects of cold temperature, wind, and moisture all are cumulative.
A wet winter hair coat has no more insulation effect than a summer hair coat, and raises the LCT to 14 C (57 F).
Cattle in the back of a moving truck that is travelling 80 km/h, on a day where the temperature is minus-one C (30 F), are experiencing a windchill factor that makes it feel like minus-23 C (10 below zero F).
You can take action to minimize these dire effects. Use ample straw bedding in vehicles when the temperature dips below 10 C (50 F). As well, remove wet bedding after each trip to prevent it from freezing in the vehicle.
Do not increase the stocking density of a load during cold weather, thinking this will keep animals warmer. Instead, reduce the number of cattle on the load during cold weather to give them room to reposition themselves away from the colder truck exterior and to avoid frostbite.
Close the nose vents in the vehicle. Cover the bottom ventilation slats to protect the cattle from the cold and the road spray.
Before transporting animals, make sure the ventilation is adjustable from the outside of the vehicle and be prepared to adjust it if the weather changes during the trip.
Monitor animals frequently during trips in severe or changeable weather.
Signs of severe cold stress include shivering, eating the bedding, or fluid frozen to the face or nostrils.

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