It is almost that time of year again to begin thinking about preparing calves and heifers for transport to go out grazing or come back home.

Transporting young animals is stressful and you want to make sure that they arrive at their destination in good order and are back happily grazing immediately.

Checklist prior to stock trucking

  1. Stand stock off green feed 4-12 hours before trucking. Bring the stock to a bare paddock or yards– Do not limit access to water. It will be mandatory in future to have water available for stock in stockyards pre and post trucking.
  2. Feed silage, hay or straw pre-trucking. Ensure sufficient water is available. Feeding dry-feed in the stand-off period will reduce the impact of the continually produced rumen acid and help minimize the restless behaviour often observed when put out on grass post-trucking. It will also speed the return to grazing promptly.
  3. Avoid standing-off on yards that have concrete or stones in yards that can cause bruising/lameness.
  4. Stock must be fit for transport. Download the Fit for Transport Ap on your phone to check your stock meet all criteria. The truckie has the right to reject any unfit stock for transport.
  5. Magnesium supplementation for pregnant stock or stock travelling more than 4 hours is recommended. Drench or feed as a slurry spread onto hay or silage.
  6. Avoid feeding grains (meal) and Palm Kernel Extract immediately prior to transporting as this can contribute to dehydration.
  7. Confirm pick up time and check loading ramp useability and access.
  8. Complete and supply animal status declarations (ASD) and notify your NZG manager of trucking date confirmation promptly.
  9. Notify NAIT/Ospri of animal movement within 48 hours of trucking if NZ Grazing is not your NAIT information provider.
  10. Farmers can expect that there will be weight loss after the stand-off and trucking period.

For example – Time off pasture and weight loss in a 400kg animal:

12 hours – 6% = 24kgs

24 hours – 8% = 32kgs

48 hours – 12% = 48kgs


Additional things to consider

Remove palm-kernel based feeds at least one month before trucking to the grower farm.

Animals that have been fed a significant amount of palm kernel or palm kernel mix over the summer months before going out grazing have often struggled to transition successfully to a pasture based diet.  It can take months for the animal to transition back to a pasture-based diet due to gut shrinkage (while on PK) reducing their ability to attain a normal weight gain/growth on a predominantly pasture based diet.  This makes it difficult for the grower to reach the monthly target weights.  Growth is critical from May to October for the beginning of the mating season in October.  Having animals at the ideal target weight at the planned start of mating is critical to getting animals in-calf. 

Supplementary feed prior to relocating to a grower farm

If stock have been supplementary fed in the weeks leading up to trucking it can be very beneficial to continue this for a couple of weeks post-arrival especially for younger stock. Consider arranging a couple of weeks supplement feed for the receiving farmer – talk to your service manager.

Consider the truckie

Around the 1st May change-over is a busy time of year for the rural community and not just for farmers! Your Livestock Transport Company has been planning in advance for the day everyone wants everything trucked on the same day!

Here at NZG our service managers (SMs) do a lot of the planning and booking with the truckies to get the most efficient trucking with all our lines coming and going. Last year hundreds of lines of animals trucked into or out of our grower farms over this short space of time, this year will be no less!

Confirm with the truckie when they call;

  • stock address – confirm rapid number and road address (don’t assume they know your address and details (especially if you have more than one set of yards)
  • Can a truck and trailer get in? Let them know if your yards are truck only access. Ensure access is clear during this busy time.
  • Is a portable ramp needed?
  • Can the stock be double decked or only single decked? The earlier this is known the better.

Don’t forget the truckies will be working some big hours over this time so have stock ready on time with completed ASD paperwork on hand at the cattle yards. Make sure someone is on hand to load the cattle onto the truck.

Lastly, be nice to the drivers and dispatchers – they are doing their best to accommodate a large number of animals and movements in a relatively short amount of time, and doing your part in the process can help ensure a successful outcome for all parties involved.


Bryan Aldridge (SM Waikato South) and Jodi Williamson (Administrator and past trucking logistics coordinator)