Do you want to haul livestock as a business? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that around 250,000 drivers are specialty livestock haulers in the U.S. alone. Obviously, you’ll be in good company if you choose to transport living freight. Here are three things every trucker should understand about hauling livestock.
1. Livestock Hauling Pay Is Higher for Good Reasons
Specialty haulers including livestock transporters are paid a higher rate for picking up and delivering animals including cattle, swine, poultry, and horses. The pay for hauling live freight is increased for several important reasons.
First, livestock haulers must maintain valid certifications including a Class A commercial driving permit. Drivers must also obtain certification for specific animals they transport. For example, a trucker may need to secure special endorsements or certificates to haul sheep or hogs. The livestock haulers must show they understand the details and perils of moving specific species of live freight.
Second, you need a specialty trailer to haul livestock. The type of trailer you purchase will depend on the types of animals you’re hauling and how far your livestock deliveries will take you.
If you plan to haul cattle or poultry, you can purchase a plain, well-made, ventilated cattle car or cage trailer, which will be suitable for most of your customers. If you go to haul high-dollar show horses, you need a fancier enclosed rig with extra safety features for the animals.
All livestock-hauling trailers must have leak-proof floors. Your trailer must also be easy to wash down and disinfect. Rubber mats on the trailer floor are a plus when hauling animals who must stand throughout the trip, but they are extras that add expenses to your livestock-hauling rig.
Third, hauling living things holds more potential for personal harm to the trucker than hauling dead weight. Animals can bite, kick, escape, or get stuck in the trailer. A poorly loaded livestock trailer can easily tip over and cause injury or death to the driver or the animals inside.
2. Biosecurity Is a Trucker’s Responsibility
Farmers and officials are increasingly vigilant about clean, biosecure handling practices when working with or around livestock intended for food. Many animal diseases are easily spread from farm to farm by vectors as seemingly harmless as the bottom of your shoes or your semitruck’s tires.
If your livestock trailer is not routinely cleaned and disinfected after each load of living freight, subsequent loads of animals can become infected by the following:
- Feces, blood, and urine
- Feed and water containers
- Insects and parasites
- Live bacteria or viruses on surfaces
As vital members of the livestock supply chain, livestock haulers must be aware of transmission risks from delivery site to delivery site. Livestock haulers must practice biosecure protocols whenever they pick up, deliver, and transport livestock.
Many poultry farms install warning signs to alert visitors and workers to the steps they must take to ensure biosecurity. If no signs are present, a good practice for truckers is to ask each customer about their biosecure protocols.
Biosecure transporter behavior around a poultry operation may include the following:
- Shower and wear clean clothes to every site.
- Use gloves on hands when touching animals or surfaces.
- Use masks and coveralls in dusty conditions.
- Properly dispose of used masks, gloves, and coveralls.
- Wash hands well before and after handling poultry.
If you own pet birds or chickens, you could unwittingly transmit diseases from your fowl to farm poultry. Avoid spreading diseases by disinfecting your shoes before getting out of the truck, or wear shoe coverings while you’re working with customers’ livestock.
3. New Legislation Could Help Livestock Haulers
Livestock haulers throughout the country were dismayed when the mandatory electronic logging device (ELD) legislation took effect in December of 2017. The ELD rules are intended to track drivers’ adherence to hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, but the rules don’t take into account the special conditions under which livestock haulers work.
Rigid HOS rules can cause harm to loaded livestock, since the laws require drivers to take extended stops when they’ve reached or exceeded their allowable driving hours. Livestock left to sit and wait in frigid or high-heat conditions can become sick or even die while the driver fulfills the terms of ELD regulations.
Requirements of ELD rules have been suspended until September of 2019 for livestock haulers, but remain worrying to drivers. The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act has been introduced by U.S. senators to address the problems with ELD rules and livestock safety. Some of the changes include:
- No calculation of HOD or ELD until 300 air-miles are driven
- Extension of HOD on-time duty maximums
- Exemption of livestock loading and unloading from HOS calculations
- Allowing drivers flexibility to rest without counting against HOS
- Allowing drivers to finish delivery if they arrive within 150 air-miles of destination
Find the perfect semi for your livestock hauling business by contacting Arrow Truck Sales today. We offer a host of services to truckers including financing and protection plans for your fleet.