ArkV Adventures, Part 1: Transporting Livestock in Winter

| 1/13/2016 10:08:00 AM

Tags: raising livestock, road trip, Irish Jersey cows, cattle, pigs, transporting livestock, heritage livestock, Kunekune pigs, Laura Berlage, Wisconsin, New Hampshire,

Ann and Kara in van

Kara and Ann in the cargo van, with the pig kennels behind and a stall for the cows. Photo by Kara Berlage

Some folks prepare for a long road trip by packing up an RV — they’ve got a place to sleep, a kitchen, even their own bathroom and shower. It’s like a mini house on wheels. But when you’re heading across country to pick up livestock in wintry weather, what kinds of accommodations might they need?

Food, water, a comfortable place to lie down, shelter from the wind, and bedding for what Joel Salatin calls the “carbacious diaper” of the barn-like setting. Pretty much an RV for livestock. This could be provided by a stock trailer, but we had already ruled out our old farm’s trucks capabilities for the cross-country trip, and finding another truck to borrow we could trick out with the extra brake abilities and hookup for the lights was looking pretty unlikely.

Besides, the cows we were picking up were supposed to be about the size of sheep, and the two pigs were still just teenagers. It was actually the owner of the cows in New Hampshire who recommended the cargo van idea — besides, folks from Massachusetts had picked up some of his animals that way without a problem. (He just didn’t mention to us that he hadn’t sent cows that way further afield, so we got to be the experiment.)

So we packed up two large dog kennels for the pigs, totes of feed, pails for water, a bag full of a bale of hay, and built a plywood stall in the back for the cows, supported by tie straps and bracing. The back panel came off and would be screwed in place once the cows were inside. A heavy-duty tarp plus a canvas drop-cloth was securely tacked in place along the bottom of the stall to protect the bottom of the van and hold the bedding and backend-of-the-cow goodies in place.

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