BACKIN' UP TO THE CHUTE
Posted Tue, Apr 14 2009 05:18 AM CST
MATT FREDIN
Posts: 17

This article was written for Livestock Network by Tim O'Byrne of Calico Beef Consulting.  

Anyone who’s ever pulled a load of cows down the road has had plenty of time to reflect on one simple fact; if every bull rack suddenly pulled off the highway and parked it, our beef production industry would come to a screeching halt.  It would sound like maximum brakes applied to a loaded coal train. 

 

I’ve been telling industry reps this for years at conventions and in meetings, and slowly they’ve started to see the light.  This critical sector of the industry needs some positive attention if we hope to maintain our level of production, let alone ramp it up in the next two decades. 

Commercial cattle truckers are facing challenges coming from behind two separate doors.  The first door, marked Trucking Commodities for a Living, houses challenges that all truckers face; fuel, rubber, insurance, equipment, time away OTR, all that good stuff. 

 

The second door, marked Hauling Cattle for a Living, has an entirely different set of challenges that would cause most freight drivers to have nightmares.  Challenges like Animal Rights people watching and plotting your every move, or hauling a load of very perishable live animals that keep you awake while you’re trying to get some sleep in the bunk …. weather variables that can change the environmental conditions inside the trailer at the drop of a hat, cattle buyers and shippers that literally coerce you into taking too many critters or throwing a crippled rawhider on your load. Add to that increased insurance rates just because you have the word Livestock on your truck door, and no place left on earth to clean out after a load when the cow-shit in the back is “just right” to scrape out, and it becomes easy to see why cattle haulers have a level of frustration second to none in the business. 

 

But still, you keep showing up for loads.  And we thank you for that.  You must like doing it, there must be something about the people and the countryside, the freedom, maybe the 25 hours a day you get to work during fall run.  Who knows?  But if it wasn’t for you guys we’d be driving cattle up the old Chisholm Trail, if we could find it, that is.  It’s probably buried under somebody’s corn field. 

 

As a consultant to the industry it’s my obligation to see that we get our act together, which we are working on.  In the meantime, here are few tips you can use that might go a long way toward making some evolutionary improvements in the transport sector: 

 

Animal Rights

  • Don’t give interviews or offer any comments to any person that does not present credible credentials.  Don’t talk to anyone in a truck stop or sale barn parking lot, and don’t let anybody near or on your trailer. 
  • If you use an electric prod, there are two types of hits; a hot hit (press the button, zap the cow) and a cold hit (just touching the wand to the cow without zapping it).  There is nothing wrong with a cold hit, and don’t let anyone watching tell you any different.
  • Don’t hot hit a critter that is already moving.  That’s like slapping your buddy for picking up the lunch tab.  He’s already doing the right thing, so don’t punish him for it.
  • Don’t prod a critter anywhere on its body that doesn’t have a good coat of hair on it, and never forward of the shoulder.
  • If you are coerced by the buyer / shipper into loading a critter that will obviously go down on the truck and cause you some problems at your destination, do these two things;  1) write down on your paperwork “Black Cow #34 loaded under protest / shipper’s name is Bob *****”,  2) load the bad critter in the back compartment.  That way, if anybody wants to know, you did your best to avoid loading it, and when it became obvious that the shipper was pressuring you to take it, you did the best you could for the critter by putting it in the compartment that is most accessible with the least amount of competition.
 

Cleanout

Scrape and wash out in designated areas only.  Don’t run with the plugs open. 

 

Communication

Let industry members like me know what challenges you need us to tackle.  We’ll see if we can make something positive happen. This forum is intended to be a place where valid comments or queries can be shared so that we can all make positive steps toward improving this sector and make your professional lives easier. Use it, tell others about it, get involved. Together, we have a much stronger voice!

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Posted Wed, Apr 15 2009 08:49 AM CST
MARLYN
Posts: 17

very well said thank you but I wish you would have mention the overweight thing like loading out in the sticks and buyer tells you 49500#  when you as a driver know the catlle are bigger then what buyer is telling you but the closest truck scale is 20+ miles away he  (the buyer)  knows your not coming back out down the road to drop 2hd off  so he got  some beef move for free.   thanks for your time

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Posted Thu, Apr 16 2009 09:13 AM CST
STEVE HILKER
Posts: 14

In an obvious overload situation, we ask the driver to call the office.  We want to speak with the buyer/shipper.  We make it clear that the rate will be prorated and the buyer/shipper is responsible for any deads or cripples as well as any overweight fines.  If they won't agree with that, then we leave enough to get legal.  We don't want the driver arguing with the shipper.  We'll do that and hopefully get it worked out to everybody's satisfaction.  If the same shipper does it repeatedly, why work with them?  Once in awhile you'll have to make an exception for a regular customer to help clean a deal up.  But never on a regular basis.

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Posted Thu, Apr 16 2009 11:27 AM CST
CJ PETERSON
Posts: 9

 You just have to prorate the load no matter what your base rate is!  If ya dont they will just keep taking advantage of you and others !! Hauling extra weight just because you can makes no sense and why spend more for bigger trailer or take the chance of getting caught overwieght those shippers dont want to be partners then!!!! 

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Posted Fri, Apr 17 2009 01:43 AM CST
GARY BETHARD
Posts: 23

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!  That is the first time I have heard anyone in the industry publicly or privately expressing thoughts of appreciation much less pleading our case. 

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Posted Fri, Apr 17 2009 10:31 AM CST
JERRY OR JOSH @ COW TRAN
Posts: 3

 I would like to say thanks for that artical Tim you hit the nail on the head.

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Posted Sat, Apr 18 2009 06:53 AM CST
BRENT BREHMER
Posts: 2

thank you very much!!!    

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Posted Sat, May 02 2009 10:29 AM CST
BOBBY WEST
Posts: 37

As always Tim I appreciate your words of wisdom. I would like to see a weekly blog or column from you on here. I get Working Ranch magazine and the info in there is tremendous. One of my customers has told me that the difference between a good cow hauler and a great one is a good one is a truck driver that knows stock and a great one is a cowboy, vet, and mechanic who can drive truck. Keep  up the excellent comments. Thank you, Pepper

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Posted Sun, May 03 2009 06:32 AM CST
ERIC STILL
Posts: 3

Would someone please explain what and how you prorate a load.  Also at what point do you charge a little more for short runs from barn to barn.

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Posted Sun, May 03 2009 10:53 AM CST
CJ PETERSON
Posts: 9

well for example if your rate is 3.20 per mile and based at 50000# you take 3.20divided by 50000=.64per 100 then times that by your weight  if you loaded 55000 it equals 3.52per mile use same formula reguardless if your rate is cheaper or higher.

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Posted Mon, May 04 2009 12:30 AM CST
ERIC STILL
Posts: 3

Thanks for the explanation on how to prorate a load.

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Posted Mon, May 04 2009 12:35 AM CST
ERIC STILL
Posts: 3

Do the Shippers/Buyers usually pay the overload tickets when you prorate a load? Since they know you are hauling heavy.

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Posted Thu, May 07 2009 01:16 AM CST
FRANK POER
Posts: 43

been doing this for about 14 yrs and have not found any that would

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Posted Sat, Aug 01 2009 02:31 AM CST
DUSTY ELKINS
Posts: 4

 I would like you to explain to me the issue with the trailer.  I own a 48'x96".  I realize that it is not new, but it is in really good shape. all the  running gear is NEW including tires.  However,  I have been booked and told them the equipment that I have which they do not have a problem with.  When I get there they want to put 52,000 on me and are upset that they are too tight.  What do you do.  I want to make money not spend it on a $40,000 trailer.  I can load 50,000lbs of feeders decked out and have plenty of room.  What do I do???  

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Posted Fri, Sep 11 2009 05:39 AM CST
TANNER TOBIASON
Posts: 1
Originally Posted by: DUSTY ELKINS
Quote: " I would like you to explain to me the issue with the trailer.  I own a 48'x96".  I realize that it is not new, but it is in really good shape. all the  running gear is NEW including tires.  However,  I have been booked and told them the equipment that I have which they do not have a problem with.  When I get there they want to put 52,000 on me and are upset that they are too tight.  What do you do.  I want to make money not spend it on a $40,000 trailer.  I can load 50,000lbs of feeders decked out and have plenty of room.  What do I do???  "

that is the buyer taking advantage of you on the weight. tell them you can only haul 48000 and thats it. they can get someone else that will abuse their equipment next time. i have a 53, 102 for hauling calves out of the south and like the room for thousand mile hauls. its easier on cattle and they ride better with more room.  i give good business for my customers and do all i can for them but if they dont care about me with weight tickets and stress on my equipment then why should i care about stress on their cattle when they load like that. i wont haul it and will tell them right away if they want to fill the loose room in my trailer im gonna order 48 by 96 and see how they like that

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Posted Mon, May 17 2010 04:26 AM CST
CINDY NELSON
Posts: 9
Originally Posted by: ERIC STILL
Quote: "Do the Shippers/Buyers usually pay the overload tickets when you prorate a load? Since they know you are hauling heavy."

Shippers and buyers never pay the tickets

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