Whether you are transporting calves across a pen or several miles/hours down the road it is a very stressful time in a newborn calves life. First thing you want to consider is securing an acceptable method for moving calves, sled, wheelbarrow, calf cart or even a UTV/truck.
1) Lift the calf into the trailer and gently lay them onto the floor. Be careful not to drop them. Ears and tails are not for steering, guide them if they walk. Calves at this stage have a hard time getting their bearings on how to move as you’d like them too. If you carry them, please make sure you use your legs to lift, safety hazard for your back if you don’t. PATIENCE is the key and having the right employee helping with loading and unloading can be very valuable.
2) Drive with caution, not 90mph down the road, try riding in the vehicle with them for the full body experience! It’s not as nice as one thinks it is. Every bump or curve they feel. Drive slowly.
3) Let’s unload them with the same respect we did at loading. Make sure you have their environment (hutch / pen) bedded and ready for them upon arrival.
If you are long hauling these calves, typically a health certification is needed if you are going across state lines. Typically an electrolyte is given to all calves on a trailer/semi before loading.
On these calves, fluids are the key, do not give them a choice of electrolytes it is forced, typically tube feeding a gallon is very common in calves being transported more than 2 hours from point A to point B. Your goal is to maintain comfort and hydration on the trip. A lot of clean dry shavings/straw is what is best for these young animals.
In cold weather months, transporting calves is more difficult as their body temperature should remain around that 101.5. Calves need to be fully dried and even in southern states where the climate is more moderate, calves in transport should still have a calf jacket on them. Remember under 50degrees, calves start using their internal calories to keep them warm because at birth they have limited fat reserve.
Keeping them as comfortable as possible is the key. What happens in warmer weather? Well, jackets are not required so keeping them hydrated is your main concern. If long hauled, ventilation for these animals is beneficial, vents are open as are side panels in trailers and semis. This is just a quick transporting 101 lesson.
Looking forward to warmer weather!