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Transporting cows and calves

Communicate with your transport operator to consider all factors:

  • seasonal conditions
  • geography of the trip
  • temperament of cows
  • size and strength of cows and calves.

This information is very important and assists with a journey plan before transporting.

Key points to consider:

  • Access to good quality, dry hay in the yards the night prior to loading is important. It is wise to handle and feed cows with a poor temperament in the yard for a week in the lead up to transport to get them better settled and more comfortable.
  • Depending on the age of the cows and duration of the journey, a few hours (approx. 4 hrs) without water prior to loading can be beneficial. Discuss this strategy with your transport operator.
  • Generally, it is advised to keep cows and calves together overnight and then draft the calves off prior to the truck arriving. When the truck arrives having cows and calves separated helps to count the right number of cows and calves per pen at loading, either together or separately.
  • Confirm with your transport operator whether the preferred option is to pen cows and calves together on the truck or not. In the right conditions and at the right pen densities, cows and calves travel well penned together. Doing so helps keep calves hydrated during transport, particularly on longer trips.

Considerations for keeping cows and calves together:

  • Cows can have more aggressive, motherly temperaments and are often happier and less stressed when travelling with calves in the same pen.
  • Note: Road conditions – if travelling over hilly terrain, it is best to keep cows and calves separate unless drafting in the yards is a problem. Cows can be aggressive and create a safety issue.