Transport of a $300 commercial critter and a $150,000 valuable Texas Longhorn requires a difference in mentality, planning, equipment and a serious determination for safety. Don’t take this wrong. Don’t think the life of a $300 critter is of no value, but when one animal can be worth many times more than the $300 one, and several cattle may be on the same load, all of a sudden this gets to be a very serious responsibility.
The preparation check
Well before a trip, check your trailer tire pressure. Make sure the pressure is the recommended amount printed on the side of the tire, or better yet, up to 10 lbs more. A little more air increases the load capacity and allows the tires to run cooler. Tires with ratings well above the axle gross vehicle weight will assure the tires will hold up with a heavy load. Good tread is important. A tire always blows during a trip -- when it is needed the most. Always be prepared with one or two good spare tires and all the tools to change it. Never be unprepared and have to buy a special size tire during a trip. Carry a flash light, tires seldom blow in the day time.
Walking around the trailer, check the hitch for a proper fit and latch hookup; also the brakes and lights. The safety chain must be attached for just enough length and not too much. Don’t let the safety chains drag the pavement or they will go away. The hitch ball must be tight. Any sign of a loose ball must be fixed. If every trailer clearance and rear light is working it might possibly reduce the chance of a harassing stop-check by a non-friendly patrolman.
Terrorists on the roadsUnfortunately there are people who have a twisted psyche; people who like to create trouble for others; inebriated people who think the trailer end gate is the court house elevator. You know the type?
To safely move, haul, show and handle even very gentle cattle requires some basic planning. Probably the most important and simplest thing to do when hauling stock is to chain the trailer doors closed. Terry Kelsey, the famous artist who created the huge Texas Gold monument in Fort Worth once looked in his rear view mirror and saw cattle jumping out the side door of his trailer, landing in the road side ditch at a high speed. His escape door handle had broken and all the cows dived out.
Closing the Gates
After the cattle are loaded, make sure all gates are closed. Just closing the latches is not enough. The great old Texas Longhorn producer Frank Doherty was taking a load of cattle home after a sale. While stopped at a restaurant some worthless thug opened the rear gate and turned his cattle loose on the freeway. From then on Frank not only closed the latches, he wrapped a sturdy chain around each closure with a big fat lock securing it. That is the rear gate and the escape door and the sliding rear door, all of them. If you were loading-out at a sale, from then on, if Frank was there, he would walk around your trailer and get real serious with anyone that didn’t have heavy chains and locks correctly attached.
Hauling valuable cattle is not just going from point A to point B, it is a matter of being deliberate, professional and touching all the bases. Remember there are idiots in the world. Lots of thugs, dope heads and idiots! They may decide you are not taking good care of your stock and they will help by turning them out to graze some pretty green grass on the edge of the freeway. Don’t allow them to make that decision!
Finish reading this article, then go purchase a good sized chain and a good sized lock for your trailer rear gate. If you have a sliding gate wrap the chain completely around the whole sliding gate and the corner of the trailer. Get a similar chain and lock for the escape door. Don't trust the latches.
When hiring transporters, check and see if they have chains on their trailers to protect your valuable stock.
Last but so important - when closing your trailer gate after loading, don't drive away leaving that big huge safety chain and lock on the chute post!