Livestock trailer safety

Whether you’re hauling livestock to market or to a show, be sure your vehicle can handle the weight and the trailer is in good working condition. Check the brakes, electrical wiring, and hitch. Make sure there are no sharp edges or pinch points that could injure the animals. Be sure the flooring is sound and provides traction.

Karen Johnson is an Extension educator at the University of Minnesota. She says when loading animals, most of the weight should be in front of the axles.

"When I think about loading, say, a gooseneck trailer, I’m going to want my heaviest animals in front of those axles. So, closest to the front of the trailer I’m going to load my older or larger animals that have quite a bit more weight than what my younger animals would," says Johnson. "Each trailer is going to be a little bit different and understanding where that balance point is on that trailer’s going to be important."

The decision of whether to tie up the animals or leave them loose depends on the species of livestock and your destination. The movement or shifting of animals can affect your handling of the vehicle.

Once the animals are safely inside and the door is shut, Johnson says do not lock it.

"The thing behind that is, you lock a trailer and you get into an accident. Well, if that trailer’s laying on the side of the road and you can’t get into your trailer, it’s because it’s locked," she says. "So, it’s easier in emergency scenarios if you put, like, a safety pin or a latch, not a lock to help prevent it from popping open unexpectedly but still be able to access it within a couple of seconds."

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