September 28, 2015

(Dan) Hey folks, Dr. Dan from DocTalk. Thanks for joining us today. My guest today is gonna be Dr. Tiffany Lee. We’re gonna talk about transportation of cattle and it’s something that we see on a daily basis on our highways and byways, going to farms, slaughter facilities, sale barns. Stay tuned. This is bound to be a great show.

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(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. I’m here with Dr. Tiffany Lee. Tiffany thanks for being on the show. (Tiffany) Thank you for having me. (Dan) You bet. Folks, Dr. Lee is a veterinarian here at the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University. And she’s been doing a lot of work out in the field and on the computer and writing. And not only beef cattle welfare, but specifically when it comes to transportation of beef cattle. (Tiffany) Yes, I’ve been doing basically this whole summer, I’ve been doing that. It’s been great actually. (Dan) And you’re doing a great job. You’re doing such a service for the industry and so we kind of broke the show down folks, in to the right cattle, the right environment, the right people and the right equipment. And so we’re gonna jump right into it. And let’s talk about the right cattle. What are some of the things and maybe it’s the wrong cattle that we need to talk about, but you know what are some of the things when it comes to selecting the right or wrong animals to be transported? (Tiffany) Well, I think the type of animal that you select that you’re transporting is a huge thing that you need to think about. We can transport anything from calves to fat cattle, cull cows and bulls. So, we need to determine what type of cattle that we’re going to transport and then we need to determine whether they’re fit for transport. And this is especially important in cull cows because a lot of times these cows are being culled for a reason, whether it’s not being reproductively sound, not having a good body condition, or even other pathological states. We need to determine that they are fit to transport before they even leave the farm. (Dan) Yea, I think that’s the term when you look at most transportation guidelines, it’s fit for transport. Are these animals fit to be transferred and not having a downed animal when they arrive? (Tiffany) Yes. (Dan) So, what are some of the things…what are some of the reasons why these animals might not be fit for transport? (Tiffany) Sure. There’s a number of reasons, pathological states are probably the biggest one. For example if you have a lame cow, or an animal with, you know, even a broken leg, you really don’t want to transport animals like that. Animals with prolapses, or things like that, lesions such as cancer, those animals really probably shouldn’t leave the farm unless they have been examined by a veterinarian in some extraneous circumstance comes around where they need to leave the farm, they probably should stay there. and be handled on the farm rather than be transported to a slaughter facility or an auction barn. (Dan) Great, great. So, what about when we look at fats or feeder cattle, is there anything that we talk about the culled market cow, but what about fats and feeders? (Tiffany) Sure. Fats and feeders, the biggest thing with them is knowing the right cattle to put in certain compartments and things like that because if you transport them in the same trailer, we definitely don’t want them together where larger cattle can stomp on smaller cattle, smaller cattle get pushed around. We definitely don’t want that. And again other pathologic states, such as lameness, that cattle can get some pretty bad lameness if it’s not managed. And we don’t want to potentiate that by putting them on a truck and taking them somewhere where when they get there it’s gonna cause them to be even more lame or be down. (Dan) Cool. Great way to segue into this subject. We’ve talked about picking the right animals. When we come back, we’ll talk about the environment and transportation with beef cattle. You’re watching DocTalk. Thanks for joining us.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson, here with Dr. Tiffany Lee and we’re from the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University. Thanks for tuning in to this important conversation with Dr. Lee who is an expert in cattle transportation and beef cattle welfare, to talk about…we’ve talked about the right cattle, now let’s talk about the right environment. And I’m assuming that we’re talking about weather. (Tiffany) Most of the time, yea, yea. Anything else that you really talk about…anything else, you’re probably not going to see any other changes from the environment except for the weather. So, you’re basically talking about heat stress and cold weather. (Dan) OK. So, let’s jump right into the heat stress, cause I know that heat stress you know, we have packers out there that will call in the summer time for a 2:00 p.m. shipping. (Tiffany) Yea, (Dan) And that can be the hottest part of the day. And so, let’s talk a little bit about heat stress and some of this with shipping cattle. (Tiffany) Yea, cattle are pretty prone to heat stress anyway and then you pack ’em in a truck, they can get…the humidity in that truck can get really high and just the heat itself can get really high. So, we need to pay attention to the outside weather as well because the outside weather is gonna affect what happens in that truck. So, we want to haul cattle if it’s gonna be hot, in the early hours of they day, and then at night as well. The time that you really don’t want to haul cattle is probably from around 11:00 o’clock in the morning to about 4:00 o’clock in the evening, because that’s the hottest part of the day. And one thing that a lot of people don’t necessarily think about, we always think about temperature, oh it’s gonna be 95 degrees, but we also have to consider humidity. Because you know that humidity can have a real effect on those cattle. And then you get ’em in the truck and they’re breathing and that’s humid as well and so the temperature and the humidity can really work against those cattle. (Dan) OK. Well, one of the things is we are gonna have cattle that are gonna be shipped during the heat of the day. But the big thing that combats that is if we can, ship ’em early morning and in the evening. We can’t let those trucks stop… (Tiffany) No. (Dan) …during the heat of the day, because one thing that will alleviate or decrease that thermal heat index is wind speed, so getting breeze in that truck can be very important right? (Tiffany) Yes. That’s extremely important and when we’re hauling cattle in the heat of the day we need to make sure that every place where we have ventilation is open. You don’t want to leave anything closed off. We want as much wind in there as we can And when the drivers are driving on the road usually it’s OK. We want to make sure that we don’t stop if we don’t have to. And if we do have to stop it needs to be for the shortest amount of time as possible. And also if we can find a shaded area to park that truck in that would be even better. (Dan) You bet. Let’s talk a little bit about cold weather, cause I don’t think that we think about that a lot, but we can have some issues with cattle in cold weather as well. (Tiffany) Definitely, definitely. We can risk frost bite, especially ears, tails, things like that. The biggest things to help with cold, cause you get these cattle in the trucks and they’re going down the highway, it gets pretty cold that wind does. So, we do want to try to…this is a point where we want to try to decrease the ventilation. And keep that warm air inside. So, side wall slats, those are really good. And then if possible again, it kind of depends on scheduling and stuff, but traveling during the daylight also helps as well. (Dan) Yep. Well, we’re gonna have to take break. One other thing on that, we don’t want to have ice build up to make the floor slick. (Tiffany) No. Slick. Yea. (Dan) Great information. Hot weather, cold weather. We’re gonna have to do some things to adjust to make sure the cattle are comfortable. More on transportation with Dr. Tiffany Lee, right after this break.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr. Dan Thomson here and Dr. Tiffany Lee from Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Beef Cattle Institute. Thanks for tuning in. We’re lucky enough to have Dr. Lee here on the show to talk about her expertise in cattle transportation and we talked about the right cattle, the right environment, now we need the right driver. And what exactly do we mean by the right driver? (Tiffany) Sure. I think that the biggest thing is the driver really needs to know that he or she has a responsibility, an obligation to take care of those animals that he or she is transporting. I think that’s the biggest thing. You know, experience and training does help. There is training for animal handling, loading and unloading off of trucks. For example the transportation quality assurance, that really helps to develop those handling skills and the knowledge that we need when people are transporting cattle. (Dan) Yea, and folks if you want to see, it’s a wonderful program the Master Transporter, the Transportation Beef Quality Assurance is at bqua.org. And if you go there you can find it, you can take this training. Lots of experts in how to load trucks, which animals to put in which compartments, how to handle inclement weather, lots of good training to get drivers where they need to be and get some of that experience. (Tiffany) Definitely. I think it’s a great resource. It teaches drivers things that you don’t necessarily think of when you’re just saying, We’re just gonna load these cattle and then drive, and unload ’em. There’s a lot more to it and I think it covers pretty much everything that we do need to know. (Dan) You bet. Making sure that we decrease the amount of stress and use proper cattle handling, knowing what to do when we have icy roads, or when we need to stop, some of those things or when we can’t stop are really gonna be important for these and we’re starting to see some of the groups that the larger cattle buying groups, whether it’s on the slaughter end or on the feeder end requiring this transportation, Beef Quality Assurance Training for transporters to haul cattle for ’em. (Tiffany) Yes and I think, I believe that I have seen the difference that it makes in attitude and just the way that people handle cattle. I think it really does make a huge difference. (Dan) Yea and the other thing is that you have to start out…I’ve been listening to some different tapes, I’ve got plenty of genetic defects of my own, but you can’t change others, you can only change yourself. You can provide exposure to others and so when your truck drivers or people around cattle that don’t care about the cattle, you’re generally not gonna be able to change them. And looking for the right person can be pretty important. (Tiffany) I very much agree. You really have to have someone that’s dedicated to, not only getting the cattle where they need to go, but taking care of those cattle along the way because that’s the most important thing. We need that good welfare before transport, after transport, but during transport as well. (Dan) Yea, one thing that everybody that’s watching out there needs to know, is we have some wonderful people in this industry, that haul cattle up and down these roads that are great cattlemen, that are great truck drivers and our industry could not function without ’em. We thank you, that’s out there on the road. We thank you in the industry. When we come back after this break, more with Dr. Tiffany Lee.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. We’re sure glad you joined us. Glad you stayed through the messages. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and this is Dr. Tiffany Lee. And Dr. Lee is a veterinarian, an animal welfare expert here at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and we’re talking about transporting animals. We got the right cattle, the right driver, it’s the right environment. The last one is the right equipment. (Tiffany) Yes. (Dan) So, what are we talking about with equipment. (Tiffany) Well, we can talk about a number of things, definitely trailer type is a big thing that we want to touch on. The different driving aids that we can use. Most of the time we want to keep those to a minimum. (Dan) Wait a sec, driving aides is not like… (Tiffany) Not like a person, no. (Dan) This is gonna be a driving aide for the cows. (Tiffany) Driving for the cattle, not for the people. (Dan) My driving aide is caffeine. OK. (Tiffany) I agree with that one, I agree with that one. (Dan) So, let’s talk about the trailer type. (Tiffany) Sure. (Dan) What’s some of the stuff you’ve been doing this summer? (Tiffany) We’ve been looking at different trailer types and looking at the bruising episodes that we see these cattle coming off these different trailer types. Looking to see if they hit their backs or their shoulders, their hips on certain areas of the trailers, such as the top…the bottom edge of that top deck and then the doors coming out those trailer doors. I’ve seen a lot of areas where we might be able to improve. I don’t know what we’re gonna be able to do, but we’ll figure it out. But you know, the bracket that holds that sliding ramp up, we see a lot of bruises there. I think the biggest difference that we can tell so far, is the difference between fat trailers which are designed specifically to haul fat cattle and then fat/feeder combo trailers, which can haul either one. They’ve got that extra compartment up in the nose. And they’re just they’re a little bit…fat/feeder combos are just a little bit tighter for those fat cattle. You know, it’s just not as roomy and they do have a little bit more potential to have bruising episodes in those trailers. But I think that we as an industry are moving forward to go towards more of those fat trailers for fat cattle. (Dan) Cool. Well, let’s talk about the driving aides. (Tiffany) Sure. (Dan) We’ve got about 30-40 seconds here. What are some of the things, obviously, Temple Grandin and Tom Noffsinger. (Tiffany) Yea, I think the biggest thing and I think Dr. Tom, I’ve talked to Dr. Tom about this and he agrees, the biggest thing is cattle when they come off those trailers they want to come off, so let ’em come off. I think that’s the biggest thing. You don’t necessarily need a driving aide all the time. And if you do, usually a rattle paddle is more that sufficient. Electric prods really I don’t know that they really do a lot, except for get those cattle excited. (Dan) Well, cattle really want to come off the truck. (Tiffany) They do. (Dan) Hogs on the other hand, that have been inside, they’re a different story. And so they’re used to being inside, they’re not used to being outside. Cattle are used to being outside and not being inside. So, there’s total different dynamics when you’re unloading hogs versus cows. (Tiffany) Definitely. (Dan) Well, thanks a million for being on the show. (Tiffany) Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. (Dan) I always appreciate all that you’re doing for our industry. Folks, thanks for watching Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Remember we always want you to work with your local veterinarian. And if you want to find out more about what Dr. Lee and I do here at Kansas State University, you can find us on the web at www.vet.ksu.edu. Thanks for watching the show today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Doc Talk and I’ll see you down the road.

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