Many people see cattle liners while they are driving down the highway and question animal welfare. Are the cattle comfortable, are they safe? We transport our cattle in liners quite frequently: every summer going to pasture, again in the fall coming home from pasture, and when we sell large numbers of cattle to the auction mart or feedlot. Using a cattle liner is the safest and most economical form of transport. On our farm, we only have a 16 ft. trailer. This trailer can only accomodate 6 full grown cows at a time. So when we are taking upwards 30 cows and their calves out to pasture, that’s a lot of trips (our pasture is an hour and fifteen minute drive from our house).
The cattle liner we use is owned by a custom hauler, all this company does is hauls livestock. When the liner comes to our house, we already have the cattle sorted by size–cows, calves, and if we have any heifers. One can think of a cattle liner as a big Transformer. There are ramps that slide, gates that open and shut, and walls that can be put up or taken down. The liner is loaded from the front to the back.
The top is loaded lighter than the bottom. On this particular load, we had 25 cows and 25 calves. We sorted 12 cows and they went up top (green area on photo). Next we sorted 13 cows and they went in the bottom or the belly (purple area on photo).
Because we didn’t have a full load for the liner, we didn’t use the nose (pink area on photo), and all 25 calves fit on the back (orange area on photo). I follow the cattle liner out to the community pasture that our cattle go to. When we get there, the cattle are unloaded immediately (unless we have to wait for a chute which is usually just a few minutes). The calves are unloaded first, followed by the cattle in the bottom, and lastly the cattle up top. The cattle are then held in a pen so they can “mother up” with their calves. In early afternoon, the cowboys will move each group of cows to their appropriate herd, where they will happily graze until the fall when we pick them up again.
Have you got any questions for Jill?
Do you have a farming question? Want to know more about cattle liners? Is there anything you’d like to know about Jill’s family’s operation? Leave Jill a comment.