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Symposium Paper: Transportation issues affecting cattle well-being and considerations for the future1

      ABSTRACT

      The goal of this beef checkoff sponsored symposium was to provide clarity regarding cattle well-being, research, the current state of the industry, and the future of cattle transportation in North America. In today’s marketing programs, feeder calves might be transported as many as 6 times. Loading conditions, time in transit, weather conditions, commingling, segregation of different sexes and weight classes into separate trailer compartments, driver experience, animal nutrition, health status, and physical condition are all factors to be considered when transporting cattle. Transportation related live weight loss (shrink) is not only attributed to loss of gut fill but also tissue loss, which can exceed 60% of total BW loss. High ambient temperature and rough handling of cattle significantly increase the amount of shrink incurred by cattle. If following best management practices could result in a 1% decrease in shrink among the feeder cattle shipped at least once in the United States, the economic benefit would exceed $325 million dollars. The beef industry needs to create a cattle transporter quality assurance program that incorporates sound research data, development of robust guidelines for animal handling, education of cattle transportation employees, and implementation of an online database specifically for individuals who transport cattle.

      Key words

      INTRODUCTION

      Transporting cattle safely, humanely, and in an expeditious manner is the ultimate goal of the seller, transporter, and buyer of cattle. Almost all beef and dairy animals are transported at least once in their lives and often as many as 6 times. For example, feeder calves might be transported from a farm or ranch to a livestock auction market, order-buying station, backgrounding facility, pasture as a stocker, feedyard, and finally to a beef processing facility. Market cows and bulls are also shipped to numerous places and across long distances. They could be transported to a livestock auction market, a cattle-buying station, and finally a beef processing plant. This does not include multiple short distance transports between pastures within a single farm or ranch.
      Welfare conscience cattle transportation is not only the right thing to do from an animal welfare perspective, but also results in significant economic and efficiency advantages. A recent survey conducted as part of the Beef Quality Assurance (

      BQA (Beef Quality Assurance). 2011. National Beef Quality Audit. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.bqa.org/resources/audits/2011-national-beef-quality-audit.

      ) program found that the mean (±SD) distance traveled by feeder calves to Texas and Nebraska feedyards was 753 ± 667 km. Additionally, the checkoff funded National Market Cow and Bull Quality Audit reported that the average tractor-trailer load of beef cattle arriving at the beef processing plant traveled 759 km, and dairy cattle traveled 365 km (

      BQA (Beef Quality Assurance). 2007. National Market Cow and Bull Beef Quality Audit. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.bqa.org/Media/BQA/Docs/2007auditdairy.pdf.

      ). The data confirm that cattle are not only transported frequently but are also shipped over long distances, both of which are known to have potential negative effects on cattle well-being and performance.
      Using best management practices (BMP) for transportation will increase economic value of cull animals, decrease labor requirements, decrease morbidity and mortality, improve meat quality, and improve growth efficiency (

      Grandin, T. 2014. Livestock Handling and Transport. 4th ed. CABI Publ., Wallingford, UK.

      ). Researchers have found loading conditions, time in transit, weather conditions, commingling of cattle, segregation of different sexes and weight classes into separate trailer compartments, driver experience, animal nutrition and health status, and physical condition of cattle are some of the major factors that must be considered when transporting cattle (
      • Coffey K.P.
      • Coblentz W.K.
      • Humphry J.B.
      • Brazle F.K.
      Review: Basic principles and economics of transportation shrink in beef cattle.
      ;
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Faucitano L.
      • Dadgar S.
      • Shand P.
      • González L.A.
      • Crowe T.G.
      Road transport of cattle, swine and poultry in North America and its impact on animal welfare, carcass and meat quality: A review.
      ).
      Given the importance that transport plays in modern day beef cattle production, its relationship to animal well-being, and its visibility to the American public, the purpose of this symposium was to (1) describe some of the prominent issues that different parts of the supply chain are facing regarding the effect of transportation on animal well-being and carcass value; (2) elucidate the results of current research on transportation related issues as well as identify any gaps in knowledge and potential focus for future research projects; (3) identify the expectations for the transport process throughout the value chain, and discuss potential next steps for continual improvement; and (4) discuss educational material and training needs for both cattle transporters and those responsible for the management of cattle before and after transportation.

      EFFECTS OF TRANSPORTATION STRESSORS ON CATTLE WELFARE

      Several factors (alone or in combination) determine welfare outcomes during transport and include loading density, transport duration, trailer design and ventilation, driving, handling quality, road and environmental conditions, and fitness of the animals.
      The trailer environment has been identified as having the greatest effect on animal welfare during transport (
      • Mitchell M.A.
      • Kettlewell P.J.
      Engineering and design of vehicles for long distance transport of livestock (ruminants, pigs and poultry).
      ). In North America transport trailers are ventilated passively via perforations in the aluminum walls of the trailer as well as openings in the roof. Consequently, the potential to have poor welfare outcomes is significant, especially under extreme environmental conditions. During summer transport of feeder cattle,
      • Goldhawk C.
      • Janzen E.
      • González L.A.
      • Crowe T.
      • Kastelic J.
      • Pajor E.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Trailer microclimate and calf welfare during fall-run transportation of beef calves in Alberta.
      found that the outside temperature had more effect on the trailer environment than loading density. Trailer environment can be affected by numerous factors including ambient temperature and humidity, loading density, use of bedding, and airflow.
      • Tarrant P.V.
      • Kenny F.J.
      • Harrington D.
      The effect of stocking density during 4 hour transport to slaughter on behaviour, blood constituents and carcass bruising in Friesian steers.
      ,
      • Tarrant P.V.
      • Kenny F.J.
      • Harrington D.
      • Murphy M.
      Long distance transportation of steers to slaughter: Effect of stocking density on physiology, behaviour and carcass quality.
      ) found that stress indicators in plasma, such as cortisol and glucose, increased linearly as loading density increased in transported feeder steers.

      Loading Density

      Loading density, the space made available to an animal within a trailer compartment, is an important topic for the beef industry due to the fact that significant economic incentive exists to load animals in a dense manner to offset increasing transport costs. However, it is well known that inappropriate loading densities (over-or underloading) may negatively affect animal welfare and meat quality outcomes (

      Eldridge, G. A. 1988 Road transport factors that may influence stress in cattle. Pages 148–149 in Proc. 34th Int. Con. Meat Sci. Tech. CSIRO, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      ;
      • Eldridge G.A.
      • Winfield C.G.
      The behaviour and bruising of cattle during transport at different space allowances.
      ;
      • Tarrant P.V.
      • Kenny F.J.
      • Harrington D.
      The effect of stocking density during 4 hour transport to slaughter on behaviour, blood constituents and carcass bruising in Friesian steers.
      ,
      • Tarrant P.V.
      • Kenny F.J.
      • Harrington D.
      • Murphy M.
      Long distance transportation of steers to slaughter: Effect of stocking density on physiology, behaviour and carcass quality.
      ). Consequently, guidelines for appropriate loading density have been developed in the United States and Canada (

      USDA. 1997. Cattle and Swine Trucking Guide for Exporters. USDA, ARS, Washington, DC.

      ;

      CARC (Canadian Agric.-Food Research Council). 2001. Recommended code of practice for the care and handling of farm animals—Transportation. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.nfacc.ca/pdf/english/Transportation2001.pdf.

      ).
      Regardless of the type of cattle transported, loading density has been found to be highly variable between trailer compartments. The belly and deck compartments have been shown to be loaded more densely, 7.5 and 5.5% less space than recommended by

      CARC (Canadian Agric.-Food Research Council). 2001. Recommended code of practice for the care and handling of farm animals—Transportation. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.nfacc.ca/pdf/english/Transportation2001.pdf.

      and the

      USDA. 1997. Cattle and Swine Trucking Guide for Exporters. USDA, ARS, Washington, DC.

      , whereas the nose, “doghouse” (small compartment in the top and back of a trailer), and back were loaded less densely (44.0, 3.9, and 60.4% more space than recommended;
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Space allowance during commercial long distance transport of cattle in North America.
      ). The number of truck axles used for hauling can also affect loading density. For example, the greater the number of axles, the more BW (animals) that can be loaded. This increases the possibility that lightweight calves could be overloaded, whereas heavy cattle (e.g., cows, bulls, fed cattle) could be underloaded, particularly in the doghouse and nose compartments (
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Relationships between transport conditions and welfare outcomes during commercial long haul transport of cattle in North America.
      ). One commonly recognized BMP for loading is that larger cattle should never be loaded in a compartment in which their back touches the ceiling of the upper level or the roof of the trailer. From a research perspective it has been useful to compare loading density by looking at the allometric coefficient (k-value), calculated as m2 per animal/(BW0.6667), developed by
      • Petherick J.C.
      • Phillips C.J.C.
      Space allowances for confined livestock and their determination from allometric principles.
      , to provide a standardized measure of loading density across all cattle regardless of their weight (

      EFSA AHAW (Panel on Animal Health and Welfare). 2011. Scientific opinion concerning the welfare of animals during transport. EFSA J. 9:1966–2091.

      ;
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Space allowance during commercial long distance transport of cattle in North America.
      ). It has been demonstrated that cattle shipped at loading densities lower than 0.015, or greater than 0.035 k-value, were reported to be more likely to die or become nonambulatory or lame, especially in the deck and belly (
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Relationships between transport conditions and welfare outcomes during commercial long haul transport of cattle in North America.
      ). In addition, the risk of bruising was higher in cows transported in the doghouse compared with other compartments (
      • Goldhawk C.
      • Janzen E.
      • Gonzalez L.A.
      • Kastelic J.P.
      • Kehler C.
      • Ominski K.
      • Pajor E.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Trailer temperature and humidity during winter transport of cattle in Canada and evaluation of indicators used to assess the welfare of cull beef cows before and after transport.
      ), likely associated with too much space, suggesting that over-or underloading has the potential to decrease welfare.
      Bruise scores documented for cattle transported at high (0.89 m2/animal) and low (1.39 m2/animal) densities were 4 and 2 times greater, respectively, than at medium (1.16 m2/animal) loading densities (8.2, 4.6, and 1.9 bruise scores, respectively;
      • Eldridge G.A.
      • Winfield C.G.
      The behaviour and bruising of cattle during transport at different space allowances.
      ). The studies presented above suggest that science-based guidelines regarding loading densities associated with improved welfare and meat quality can be determined for beef cattle. Appropriate loading densities for different categories of cattle (calves, feeders, finished cattle, culls, and so on) transported under varying environmental conditions (winter vs. summer) are required. Studies of this nature are needed and would aid in defining optimal loading densities that ensure good welfare, meat quality, and commerce.

      Transport Duration and Distance

      From an animal welfare perspective, the total duration an animal is transported is more important than the total distance it travels. The entire transport duration an animal experiences includes waiting to depart from the point of origin after loading, driving and stationary periods, waiting to off load, and any delays occurring during the journey.
      Transit duration regulations for cattle are less rigorous in North America than other geographic locations including the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand. Cattle within the United States can be transported up to 28 h (

      USDA. 1997. Cattle and Swine Trucking Guide for Exporters. USDA, ARS, Washington, DC.

      ), whereas the maximum transport duration in Canada is 52 h (

      CARC (Canadian Agric.-Food Research Council). 2001. Recommended code of practice for the care and handling of farm animals—Transportation. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.nfacc.ca/pdf/english/Transportation2001.pdf.

      ). Enforcement of these regulations is less stringent in the United States than Canada. A United States study reported that calves shipped to commercial feedlots were transported an average of 698 km (
      • Cernicchiaro N.
      • White B.J.
      • Renter D.G.
      • Babcock A.H.
      • Kelly L.
      • Slattery R.
      Effects of body weight loss during transit from sale barns to commercial feedlots on health and performance in feeder cattle cohorts arriving to feedlots from 2000 to 2008.
      ,
      • Cernicchiaro N.
      • White B.J.
      • Renter D.G.
      • Babcock A.H.
      • Kelly L.
      • Slattery R.
      Associations between the distance traveled from sale barns to commercial feedlots in the United States and overall performance, risk of respiratory disease, and cumulative mortality in feeder cattle during 1997 to 2009.
      ), indicating that at an average highway speed of about 100 km/h, cattle would be in transit an average of 7 h. Canadian calves transported long distances (>399 km) were in transit an average of 15.9 h, with a maximum of 45 h; however, few (5%) of these loads were over 30 h in duration (
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Benchmarking study of industry practices during commercial long haul transport of cattle in Alberta.
      ). A similar Canadian study documenting conditions of cattle transported to slaughter reported average transport times of 4.6 h, with a maximum of 68.3 h (
      • Warren L.A.
      • Mandell I.B.
      • Bateman K.G.
      Road transport conditions of slaughter cattle: Effects on the prevalence of dark, firm and dry beef.
      ). These studies suggest that the majority of cattle haulers in North America adhere to the maximum regulated times specified by each country’s regulations. Currently, little is known about the cumulative transport duration of cattle that are sold through auction markets. Although there are maximum shipping time regulations in these countries, research, which established these times, is either limited or nonexistent. Further studies should be performed to examine the effect of duration and the effect of unloading, resting, and reloading at a midpoint during long trips. It has been debated that the practice of unloading, resting, and reloading may be more stressful than transporting cattle for longer durations; however, research is limited and inconclusive.
      The association between decreased animal welfare and increased transport duration is well established and includes greater shrink, poor welfare outcomes such as lameness, incidence of nonambulatory cattle, and death, as well as increased morbidity in the feedlot. Transport durations ranging between 2 and 48 h have resulted in shrink values between 0 and 8% of BW (
      • Lofgreen G.P.
      • Dunbar J.R.
      • Addis D.G.
      • Clark J.G.
      Energy level in starting rations for calves subjected to marketing and shipping stress.
      ;

      Mayes, H. F., J. M. Asplund, and M. E. Anderson. 1979. Transport Stress Effects on Shrinkage. ASAE Paper No. 79-6512. Am. Soc. Agric. Eng., St. Joseph, MI.

      ;
      • Jones S.D.M.
      • Schaefer A.L.
      • Robertson W.M.
      • Vincent B.C.
      The effects of withholding feed and water on carcass shrinkage and meat quality in beef cattle.
      ;
      • Zavy M.T.
      • Juniewicz P.W.
      • Phillips W.A.
      • VonTungeln D.L.
      Effect of initial restraint, weaning, and transport stress on baseline and ACTH-stimulated cortisol responses in beef calves.
      ;
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Booth M.E.
      • McAllister T.A.
      • Mears G.J.
      • Schaefer A.L.
      • Cook N.J.
      • Church J.S.
      Effects of pre-haul management and transport distance on beef cattle performance and welfare.
      ;
      • Cernicchiaro N.
      • White B.J.
      • Renter D.G.
      • Babcock A.H.
      • Kelly L.
      • Slattery R.
      Effects of body weight loss during transit from sale barns to commercial feedlots on health and performance in feeder cattle cohorts arriving to feedlots from 2000 to 2008.
      ,
      • Cernicchiaro N.
      • White B.J.
      • Renter D.G.
      • Babcock A.H.
      • Kelly L.
      • Slattery R.
      Associations between the distance traveled from sale barns to commercial feedlots in the United States and overall performance, risk of respiratory disease, and cumulative mortality in feeder cattle during 1997 to 2009.
      ).
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Factors affecting body weight loss during commercial long haul transport of cattle in North America.
      found that shipping durations greater than 30 h resulted in increased likelihoods of cattle becoming nonambulatory or lame or dying. The same study also found that shrink increased most rapidly in cattle transported for longer durations at higher ambient temperatures, concluding that transport durations greater than 30 h should be avoided during particular climatic conditions.
      Studies on the effect of transport conditions on more fragile cattle such as cull cows and very young calves are lacking, but this most likely is where the largest welfare issues may occur. To date, few studies have assessed the effects of rest stops as a method of mitigating the effects of long distance transport, and further studies should be conducted in this area.

      Feed and Water Withdrawal

      North American transport trailers are not equipped to hold feed and water, and therefore, by default, cattle are exposed to fasting periods at least as long as their time in transport. Studies have reported that cattle fasted for 12, 24, 48, and 96 h had live weight losses of 6, 8, 12, and 14%, respectively (
      • Shorthose W.R.
      Weight losses in cattle prior to slaughter.
      ;
      • Wythes J.R.
      The sale yard curfew issue.
      ;
      • Cole N.A.
      • Phillips W.A.
      • Hutcheson D.P.
      The effect of pre-fast diet and transport on nitrogen metabolism of calves.
      ;
      • Lambooy E.
      • Hulsegge B.
      Long distance transport of pregnant heifers by truck.
      ;
      • Tarrant P.V.
      • Kenny F.J.
      • Harrington D.
      • Murphy M.
      Long distance transportation of steers to slaughter: Effect of stocking density on physiology, behaviour and carcass quality.
      ). This observed BW loss includes both water and tissue loss depending on the length of the fast. Increased red blood cell count, hemoglobin, total protein, and packed cell volume (proxies for dehydration) have been measured in the blood of transported cattle (
      • Cole N.A.
      • Camp T.H.
      • Rowe L.D.
      • Stevens D.G.
      • Hutcheson D.P.
      Effect of transport on feeder calves.
      ;
      • Lambooy E.
      • Hulsegge B.
      Long distance transport of pregnant heifers by truck.
      ;
      • Tarrant P.V.
      • Kenny F.J.
      • Harrington D.
      • Murphy M.
      Long distance transportation of steers to slaughter: Effect of stocking density on physiology, behaviour and carcass quality.
      ;
      • Warriss P.D.
      • Brown S.N.
      • Knowles T.G.
      • Kestin S.C.
      • Edwards J.E.
      • Dolan S.K.
      • Phillips A.J.
      Effects of cattle transport by road for up to 15 h.
      ). Other studies have reported that half of the weight loss occurring in cattle transported an average of 1,020 km (636 mi) was due to muscle tissue loss (
      • Self H.L.
      • Gay N.
      Shrink during shipment of feeder cattle.
      ). One study reported that return to pretransport BW took up to 5 d (
      • Warriss P.D.
      • Brown S.N.
      • Knowles T.G.
      • Kestin S.C.
      • Edwards J.E.
      • Dolan S.K.
      • Phillips A.J.
      Effects of cattle transport by road for up to 15 h.
      ).

      Weather and Trailer Environment

      The trailer environment has been identified as having the greatest effect on animal welfare during transport (
      • Mitchell M.A.
      • Kettlewell P.J.
      Engineering and design of vehicles for long distance transport of livestock (ruminants, pigs and poultry).
      ). North American transport trailers are not climate controlled, and ventilation is provided passively via perforations in the aluminum walls of the trailer as well as openings in the roof. Consequently, the potential to have poor welfare outcomes is significant, especially under extreme environmental conditions such as very high or low ambient temperature and humidity.
      Weather conditions within a single journey can vary drastically, and environmental conditions documented over 18 mo were found to range between −42°C and 46°C for cattle transported between Canada and the United States (
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Benchmarking study of industry practices during commercial long haul transport of cattle in Alberta.
      ). Cattle are homeothermic and have the ability to adapt to their environment gradually over time, which may help mitigate poor welfare outcomes under extreme conditions (

      Curtis, S. E. 1993. Assessing effective environmental temperature. Pages 71–77 in Environmental Management in Animal Agriculture. S. Curtis, ed. Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames.

      ). Abrupt changes in ambient temperature and humidity during transport could be more detrimental than consistent exposure to either high or low temperature or humidity (

      Curtis, S. E. 1993. Assessing effective environmental temperature. Pages 71–77 in Environmental Management in Animal Agriculture. S. Curtis, ed. Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames.

      ). Trailer environment can be affected by numerous factors including ambient temperature and humidity, loading density, use of bedding, and airflow.
      • Wikner I.
      • Gebresenbet G.
      • Nilsson C.
      Assessment of air quality in a commercial cattle transport vehicle in Swedish summer and winter conditions.
      found that internal trailer temperatures were 7°C higher than the outside temperature during the summer. During summer transport of feeder cattle,
      • Goldhawk C.
      • Janzen E.
      • González L.A.
      • Crowe T.
      • Kastelic J.
      • Pajor E.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Trailer microclimate and calf welfare during fall-run transportation of beef calves in Alberta.
      found that the outside temperature had more effect on the trailer environment than loading density.
      • Bryan M.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Crowe T.
      • González L.
      • Kastelic J.
      Effect of cattle liner microclimate on core body temperature and shrink in market-weight heifers transported during summer months.
      reported that temperature–humidity index was greater at animal level than at the ceiling level of each trailer compartment and during stationary periods compared with in-transit periods.
      • Stanford K.
      • Bryan M.
      • Peters J.
      • Gonzàlez L.A.
      • Stephens T.P.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Effects of long-or short-haul transportation of slaughter heifers and cattle liner mircoclimate on the hide contamination with Escherichia coli O157.
      concluded that the lower temperature–humidity index in the belly and back compartments compared with the nose, deck, and doghouse of the trailer could be explained by less exposure to solar radiation, whereas the highest temperature–humidity index, in the nose, was most likely related to decreased airflow directly behind the tractor. In one of the only studies assessing the relationship between environmental conditions and animal welfare,
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Relationships between transport conditions and welfare outcomes during commercial long haul transport of cattle in North America.
      found that animal death increased sharply when ambient temperatures fell below −15°C, whereas the likelihood of becoming nonambulatory increased when temperatures rose above 30°C. This suggests that producers and haulers should be careful when shipping fragile cattle under these conditions, and manage the trailer environment through the use of aids such as bedding, boarding, or other available means.
      To mitigate the effects of cold weather transport, air flow can be controlled with boards (plastic, fiberglass, or plywood) that cover perforations in the trailer walls and decrease air exchange between inside and outside environments. Although boards can be used on the entire surface of the trailer, boarding is only recommended on a portion of a trailer to facilitate some air flow (

      CARC (Canadian Agric.-Food Research Council). 2001. Recommended code of practice for the care and handling of farm animals—Transportation. Accessed May 20, 2016. http://www.nfacc.ca/pdf/english/Transportation2001.pdf.

      ). Recent research assessing cull cow transport during winter in Canada found that >50% of trailer perforations were boarded at −4.5°C, whereas 80% of perforations were boarded at −11°C (
      • Goldhawk C.
      • Janzen E.
      • Gonzalez L.A.
      • Kastelic J.P.
      • Kehler C.
      • Ominski K.
      • Pajor E.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Trailer temperature and humidity during winter transport of cattle in Canada and evaluation of indicators used to assess the welfare of cull beef cows before and after transport.
      ). In a similar study,
      • Goldhawk C.
      • Janzen E.
      • González L.A.
      • Crowe T.
      • Kastelic J.
      • Pajor E.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Trailer microclimate and calf welfare during fall-run transportation of beef calves in Alberta.
      found that temperature within the trailer was always higher than outside regardless of the boarding pattern. However, there were no differences in environmental conditions between the inside and outside of unboarded trailers whether they were stationary or in transit. Trailer compartments were reported to be warmer and more humid when boarded and parked. Boarding was also found to have a positive effect on welfare by reducing dark cutting during winter transport (
      • Goldhawk C.
      • Janzen E.
      • González L.A.
      • Crowe T.
      • Kastelic J.
      • Pajor E.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Trailer microclimate and calf welfare during fall-run transportation of beef calves in Alberta.
      ).
      Even though bedding is recommended for comfort and insulation (particularly for fragile cattle) during cold conditions, a recent transport survey found bedding was used less frequently with cull cattle (41.9%) than feeders (275 to 500 kg; 56.3%), calves (<275 kg; 67.4%), and breeding cattle (75.0%) (
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Benchmarking study of industry practices during commercial long haul transport of cattle in Alberta.
      ), suggesting economic value plays a large role in the provision of bedding.
      The relationship between air flow, wind speed direction, ambient conditions, perforation patterns, and other design features and animal welfare outcomes such as cattle weight loss, morbidity, mortality, and injury due to extreme conditions such as heat wave and frost bite need further study.

      Animal Handling and Driver Experience

      An integral part of the transport process is animal handling. This includes loading and unloading, which have been reported to be more stressful (elevated heart rate and stress-related hormones such as cortisol) than the effect of transport itself (
      • Camp T.H.
      • Stevens D.G.
      • Stermer R.A.
      • Anthony J.P.
      Transit factors affecting shrink, shipping fever, and subsequent performance of feeder calves.
      ). Therefore, it is recommended that handling during these events be conducted slowly, gently, and quietly (

      Grandin, T. 2014. Livestock Handling and Transport. 4th ed. CABI Publ., Wallingford, UK.

      ). This is especially important when handling cull cows that are susceptible to bruising due to their decreased fat cover and higher incidence of lameness. It is suggested that all cattle should be handled as little as possible before slaughter to decrease bruising, especially after long distance (>480 km) transport, because shrink can magnify this effect (
      • Hoffman D.E.
      • Spire M.F.
      • Schwenke J.R.
      • Unruh J.A.
      Effect of source of cattle and distance transported to a commercial slaughter facility on carcass bruises in mature beef cows.
      ).
      Drivers must be trained to recognize and manage risk before and during transport. This includes gathering information about road conditions, construction and detour routes, scheduling of border arrivals, weather related road closures, and changing environmental conditions (
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Haley D.B.
      • Church S.
      • Woods J.
      • O’Byrne T.
      An education and training program for livestock transporters in Canada.
      ). For example,
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Benchmarking study of industry practices during commercial long haul transport of cattle in Alberta.
      found that cattle transported across the Canada–United States border experienced delays (i.e., related border crossing, weather, and so on) averaging 3 h, with maximum delays extending to 15 h. The maximum delays were not recorded frequently; however, their effect on the welfare outcomes, particularly under challenging environmental conditions, could be substantial. Handling stress has been shown to vary with such factors as animal temperament (
      • Burdick N.C.
      • Carroll J.A.
      • Hulbert L.E.
      • Dailey J.W.
      • Willard S.T.
      • Vann R.C.
      • Welsh Jr., T.H.
      • Randel R.D.
      Relationships between temperament and transportation with rectal temperature and serum concentrations of cortisol and epinephrine in bulls.
      ), handling quality (gentle vs. rough), experience of the handler and animal (Lay et al., 1992 a,
      • Lay D.C.
      • Friend T.H.
      • Bowers C.L.
      • Grissom K.K.
      • Jenkins O.C.
      A comparative physiological and behavioral study of freeze and hot iron branding using dairy cows.
      ), the animal’s condition, and the quality of the handling facilities (
      • Grandin T.
      Perspectives on transportation issues: The importance of having physically fit cattle and pigs.
      ). Currently, science-based information regarding the relationships between animal type (age, size, and condition), temperament, and animal and handler experience as they relate to transport are limited. Several factors (alone or in combination) can determine whether welfare outcomes during transport are either positive or negative. These include loading density, transport duration, trailer design and ventilation, driving and handling quality, road and environmental conditions, and fitness of the animals. Other aspects of management, such as transport regulations and industry codes of practice, can further affect outcomes associated with the factors listed above.
      Although producers and haulers aim to decrease transport duration, delays are inevitable.
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Benchmarking study of industry practices during commercial long haul transport of cattle in Alberta.
      reported loading and unloading times for commercially transported cattle to be on average 20 and 30 min with maximums of 5 and 3 h, respectively.
      • Warren L.A.
      • Mandell I.B.
      • Bateman K.G.
      Road transport conditions of slaughter cattle: Effects on the prevalence of dark, firm and dry beef.
      reported delays associated with drivers waiting for more than 1 h to unload at a slaughter facility.
      • Goldhawk C.
      • Janzen E.
      • Gonzalez L.A.
      • Kastelic J.P.
      • Kehler C.
      • Ominski K.
      • Pajor E.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      Trailer temperature and humidity during winter transport of cattle in Canada and evaluation of indicators used to assess the welfare of cull beef cows before and after transport.
      conducted one of the few studies assessing the effects of unloading delays on welfare, showing that the risk of bruising was higher in loads of cows that had a delay of 30 min or more before unloading at the slaughter plant.
      Driving skill has significant and direct effects (e.g., falling, injury, stress, and bruising) on cattle and their welfare during transport (

      Eldridge, G. A. 1988 Road transport factors that may influence stress in cattle. Pages 148–149 in Proc. 34th Int. Con. Meat Sci. Tech. CSIRO, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      ;
      • Tarrant P.V.
      • Kenny F.J.
      • Harrington D.
      The effect of stocking density during 4 hour transport to slaughter on behaviour, blood constituents and carcass bruising in Friesian steers.
      ). Skill is associated with both experience and awareness of the driver. This was demonstrated in a study conducted by
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Benchmarking study of industry practices during commercial long haul transport of cattle in Alberta.
      , who recorded the number of years of cattle hauling experience drivers had (<2 yr, 3 to 5 yr, 6 to 10 yr, and >10 yr) and related it to welfare outcomes. The authors found that shrink at unloading was lower in cattle transported by drivers having ≥6 yr of experience compared with those with ≤5 yr. This suggests that those drivers may be more conscientious at stopping, starting, and turning; have better cattle handling skills; or are better at managing transport risk factors. Further research assessing the degree to which driver-training programs are effective in improving welfare during transport and any improvement in meat quality should be performed.

      Animal Type and Age

      The type of cattle being transported defines how fit they will be for transport and ultimately how well they cope with the stress of transport. Cattle type refers to an animal’s age, condition, temperament, and previous experience.
      Age and weight are among the most important factors contributing to the ability of an animal to manage transport stress. Young calves are reported to be more susceptible to stress during transport than mature cattle (
      • Eicher S.D.
      • Cheng H.W.
      • Sorrells A.D.
      • Schutz M.M.
      Behavioral and physiological indicators of sensitivity or chronic pain following tail docking.
      ), which results in an increased incidence of morbidity and mortality when calves enter the feedlot (
      • Fike K.
      • Spire M.F.
      Transportation of cattle.
      ). In support of this,
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Relationships between transport conditions and welfare outcomes during commercial long haul transport of cattle in North America.
      found that calves were more likely to become nonambulatory or die compared with fed and feeder cattle during transport.
      • Cernicchiaro N.
      • White B.J.
      • Renter D.G.
      • Babcock A.H.
      • Kelly L.
      • Slattery R.
      Associations between the distance traveled from sale barns to commercial feedlots in the United States and overall performance, risk of respiratory disease, and cumulative mortality in feeder cattle during 1997 to 2009.
      reported that shrink increased the risk of bovine respiratory disease in lighter weight calves compared with heavier weight calves. Likewise older animals (i.e., cull cows) are also at greater risk of poor welfare during long-haul transport (>400 km) because they have the greatest probability of becoming lame, nonambulatory, and dying during and at the end of the journey compared with other types of cattle (
      • González L.A.
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Bryan M.
      • Silasi R.
      • Brown F.
      Relationships between transport conditions and welfare outcomes during commercial long haul transport of cattle in North America.
      ). The authors found that cull cows were most affected by long-haul transport, having greater shrink than fed cattle transported the same distance. Further, they concluded that fed cattle are less susceptible to poor welfare because they have more robust immune systems, better body condition, and therefore better health than cattle at older and younger ages.
      • Cernicchiaro N.
      • White B.J.
      • Renter D.G.
      • Babcock A.H.
      • Kelly L.
      • Slattery R.
      Associations between the distance traveled from sale barns to commercial feedlots in the United States and overall performance, risk of respiratory disease, and cumulative mortality in feeder cattle during 1997 to 2009.
      concluded that heavier calves recover from transport more quickly due to their resilience to stress compared with lighter weight calves.
      Handling stress has been shown to vary with such factors as animal temperament (
      • Burdick N.C.
      • Carroll J.A.
      • Hulbert L.E.
      • Dailey J.W.
      • Willard S.T.
      • Vann R.C.
      • Welsh Jr., T.H.
      • Randel R.D.
      Relationships between temperament and transportation with rectal temperature and serum concentrations of cortisol and epinephrine in bulls.
      ), handling quality (gentle vs. rough), experience of the handler and animal (
      • Lay D.C.
      • Friend T.H.
      • Bowers C.L.
      • Grissom K.K.
      • Jenkins O.C.
      Behavioral and physiological effects of freeze and hot iron branding on crossbred cattle.
      ,
      • Lay D.C.
      • Friend T.H.
      • Bowers C.L.
      • Grissom K.K.
      • Jenkins O.C.
      A comparative physiological and behavioral study of freeze and hot iron branding using dairy cows.
      ), the animal’s condition, and the quality of the handling facilities (
      • Grandin T.
      Perspectives on transportation issues: The importance of having physically fit cattle and pigs.
      ). Currently, science-based information regarding the relationships between animal type (age, size, and condition), temperament, and animal and handler experience as they relate to transport are limited. More research is needed to provide better clarity as to the BMP for transporting cattle. Possible further research could allow the establishment of a decision-tree that could provide cattle managers and transporters more of a total systems approach to cattle transportation.

      Effect of Transportation on Carcass Value

      In a research review that examined the basic principles and economics of transportation shrink in beef cattle,
      • Coffey K.P.
      • Coblentz W.K.
      • Humphry J.B.
      • Brazle F.K.
      Review: Basic principles and economics of transportation shrink in beef cattle.
      reported that shrink is a normal occurrence in cattle that affects both the seller and buyer and a few hours to over 30 d are required to replenish this weight loss. The authors also reported that shrink is not only loss of gut fill but actual tissue loss, which can exceed 60% of total BW loss within the first 5 to 11 h in transport. These authors cited that high ambient temperature and extra and rough handling of cattle significantly increased the amount of shrink incurred by cattle. In a more recent study,
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Faucitano L.
      • Dadgar S.
      • Shand P.
      • González L.A.
      • Crowe T.G.
      Road transport of cattle, swine and poultry in North America and its impact on animal welfare, carcass and meat quality: A review.
      reported a similar cause-and-effect relationship between using industry BMP for transporting cattle for optimizing cattle welfare and economic results.
      The most recent National Market Cow and Bull Beef Quality Audit (

      NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association). 2007. Executive Summary of the 2007 National Market Cow and Bull Beef Quality Audit. Centennial, CO. Accessed Oct. 12, 2016. http://www.bqa.org/Media/BQA/Docs/2007auditbeef.pdf.

      ) indicated that 63% of market cow carcasses evaluated had some level of bruising present at the time of slaughter, with the majority occurring in the round region. In carcasses from 4,287 fed cattle evaluated for bruising presence, anatomical location, and severity, Kansas State University researchers found that 53.5% of carcasses had at least one bruise and 60.5% of bruises were located in the central region of the carcass (

      Reinhardt, C. 2015. Research update—Kansas State University/Beef Cattle Institute. Proc. Plains. Nutr. Conf., San Antonio, TX. Plains Nutr. Counc., Texas A&M AgriLife Res. Ext. Cent., Amarillo.

      ). Among carcasses with one bruise, 61.8% occurred along the dorsal midline, with over half occurring in the rib–loin area. Based on these data, it is assumed that animal handling during the preslaughter transportation process (including animal handling procedures, trailer design, or working facilities) is contributing to the relatively high incidence of bruise presence in beef carcasses. Further, carcass bruises occur in anatomical areas associated with high value beef cuts.

      Fitness for Transport

      Two specific industry segments were identified as larger contributors to transportation-related problems and possible places to direct educational efforts—auction markets and the dairy industry as related to market cows. Livestock market auctions may be one of the best points of contact for producer and transporter education regarding transportation guidelines. However, auction markets feel that they lack adequate leverage over producers, adequate manpower, and the necessary time to address unfit cattle at the time of off-loading before sale. Auction owners can assist with education regarding proper loading of trailers, determining fitness for transport, and trailer management but cannot effectively enforce proper protocols. In their view, the only way to decrease the transactions of, demand for, and presence of high risk and unfit cattle at auction markets is to eliminate willing buyers and willing sellers associated with this type of cattle from the marketplace.
      Relative to market dairy cows, proactive dairy producers are selling market cows via 2 outlets. The majority of their cows that are deemed fit for transport are marketed via auction markets to access premiums associated with their positive reputation. Those deemed unfit for transport (due to mobility and locomotion, inadequate condition, illness, injury, physiological stage, and so on) and at high risk of becoming nonambulatory—the minority of cows—are sold via local or on-farm slaughter facilities at a discount. Such a strategy can decrease the likelihood of nonambulatory animals being loaded onto trucks and subsequent welfare problems.
      Finally, and more specifically addressing high risk unfit cattle, agreement on uniform fitness-for-transport guidelines and thresholds will be difficult to attain. This is due to the inherent subjective nature of visually evaluating cattle, inadequate data to support a specific and consistent threshold for when an animal should not be transported, and lack of clarity between “unfit” and “compromised” definitions in cattle, including how each should be managed and transported. Further research in this area may help provide more specific guidelines and educational tools for transporters and cattle managers.
      Based on previous research, it is suggested that the following pretransportation practices be implemented.
      • Cattle are fed and watered within 5 h before being loaded if the trip length is over 12 h.
      • Cattle being loaded for trips longer than 4 h are fed within 24 h of loading.
      • Cattle should be in good health and fit for transport.
      • Cattle should be handled as little as possible and as gently as possible.
      • Cattle should receive a minimum of 5 h of rest following 48 h of transport.

      CURRENT EDUCATION AND AVAILABLE TRAINING

      Both
      • Schwartzkopf-Genswein K.S.
      • Faucitano L.
      • Dadgar S.
      • Shand P.
      • González L.A.
      • Crowe T.G.
      Road transport of cattle, swine and poultry in North America and its impact on animal welfare, carcass and meat quality: A review.
      and
      • Coffey K.P.
      • Coblentz W.K.
      • Humphry J.B.
      • Brazle F.K.
      Review: Basic principles and economics of transportation shrink in beef cattle.
      reported that a driver’s cattle transporting experience played a significant role in the success of cattle transportation. Therefore, it is not only important to identify BMP for cattle transportation, but also to train cattle management and transportation personnel in using these practices. In 2008, as a result of a similar transportation symposium to the one held in 2015, the cattle industry, under the oversight of the National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) Advisory Board, began work on developing a cattle transporter certification program. A year earlier, in 2007, as a result of a checkoff funded NBQA state pilot project sponsored by the Texas Beef Council, the Master Cattle Transporter program was developed by Texas A&M University. This program specifically offered educational resources to cattle producers and transporters that used tractor-trailers for transporting cattle. The educational resources consisted of an online course, manual, DVD, and website with videos and downloadable resources. Although these educational resources were made available, because of restricted funding, a national educational emphasis was not put forth. Other educational resources such as the Stock Trailer NBQA resources and the Bovine Emergency Response Plan for First Responders () have also been developed. Currently, the United States pork industry and Canadian livestock industries have taken the lead on successful implementation of transportation quality assurance programs, and the United States beef industry should revitalize the Master Cattle Transporter program and further develop a national cattle transport education effort.

      ANIMAL WELFARE EXPECTATIONS IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN

      Every stakeholder within the beef value chain has an expectation for fostering animal well-being. It may seem as though everyone has a slightly different expectation of what animal well-being should look like; it is usually found through discussion and sharing of experiences. In actuality, animal welfare expectations are the same more often than not, just evaluated and expressed from a different frame of reference (
      • Verbeke W.
      Stakeholder, citizen and consumer interests in farm animal welfare.
      ). Animal welfare should be a priority for all members of the beef supply chain. Expectations of the various stakeholders are manifested in different ways, whether it be adopting of industry welfare guidelines, self-auditing, requiring animal welfare verification programs, or developing animal care polices, among other examples. Consumers want to understand how food animals are raised and additionally feel confident that the animals had a good quality of life throughout all stages of the production cycle. They look to retailers to provide them with assurances that BMP are being followed. Retailers work with packers and processors to understand their specific livestock supply and sometimes request proof and verification that producers are in fact raising animals following high standards of animal welfare. Packers work closely with people that actually raise animals, and so it goes back into the supply chain, creating a network of accountability and responsibility.

      The Importance and Visibility of Cattle Transportation

      The discussion around animal well-being standards during transportation has demonstrated that producers, consignors, packers, and retailers alike want to improve the training, accountability, and verification of animal treatment during the transportation phases of the livestock production and marketing cycle. Live animal transportation is a component of the cattle industry that is shared by all segments of the supply chain and affects many animals on a daily basis, making it a critical control point for animal handling within the value system. The USDA Market News Service reports that over 530,000 cattle are shipped to slaughter plants each week. This does not include the transportation that occurs between farms, auctions, and backgrounding and finishing feedyards, highlighting the importance of educational efforts as well as the complexity to achieve this type of training.
      Another reason to improve cattle transportation is that it is a visible part of the supply chain. This visibility, combined with the public’s desire to understand more about their food supply, makes animal care during transportation a topic that many consumers, packers, and retailers have begun to consider as a measurable point of animal welfare within the value chain.

      In the Beginning—Master Cattle Transporter Program

      As discussed previously, the Master Cattle Transporter Guide () was developed and adopted into the Beef Checkoff’s Beef Quality Assurance program in 2007 as a resource for cattle transporters to learn how to ensure good animal handling and welfare during transportation. It has been almost a decade since this program was introduced to the cattle industry, and within those years there have been significant advancements and changes in animal handling and welfare of cattle within the cattle supply chain. It is an appropriate time in the evolution of the program to revisit and revise the training materials for cattle transporters to include more details about handling techniques, transport effects on animal behavior and physiology, regulatory expectations at the terminal markets, and potential consequences on meat quality when cattle are not transported in the optimum environment. Although some research does exist on the effect of transportation on cattle welfare and meat quality as reviewed in the previous section, there is certainly the opportunity within the industry to fund and conduct additional research. Research studies focusing on loading density, weather and trailer environment, and transport distance and duration, for example, could certainly provide insight into more appropriate management and animal handling techniques during the transportation phase of the cattle production cycle to be included in future training and certification materials.

      Cattle Transportation and Packing Plants

      In 2010, several years after the Master Cattle Transporter Program was developed, the North American Meat Institute added a transportation addendum to their animal care and handling guidelines and audit. Although slaughter plants had been auditing arrival and unloading at the plant for several years, the addition of the transportation addendum solidified the importance of the transportation component of the industry to the terminal markets. The transportation addendum remains in the current guide and has become a mandatory component of many third party audits that are required by retailers of the supplying slaughter facilities.
      In addition to internal and external audits requiring adherence to high standards of transporter training and behavior, the packer and processor segments are held to strict federal guidelines regarding the humane treatment of animals at slaughtering facilities, which includes the behavior and practices of transporters delivering animals to these terminal markets. Federal regulations specific to humane handling within a federally inspected meat plant () have not changed, but as a reaction to several humane handling incidents at slaughter plants in the past several years, the increase in inspector auditing of humane handling, and the general awareness of humane handling, the level of scrutiny has increased and transporters are receiving more attention than they once were. Many packers have created in-house policies or training programs for transporters entering their facilities to ensure proper handling of animals. But, currently there is not one uniform cattle transporter training program that the packing industry has adopted as a requirement for drivers entering their facilities.
      The following are specific management factors that are assessed in the North American Meat Institute Transportation Audit (

      NAMI (North American Meat Institute). 2016. North American Meat Institute: Guidelines Audit Guide—Animal Handling. Accessed Oct. 12, 2016. www.animalhandling.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/63215.

      ).
      • Plant has written animal welfare policy for transporters.
      • Arrival management process minimizes waiting time at the plant.
      • Emergency plans in place for animals in transit.
      • Written policy for immobile and fatigued animals and tools available for handling.
      • Acceptable handling tools available and used as needed.
      • Maintenance records for euthanasia equipment, proper storage and employee training for euthanasia.
      • Gates in unloading area swing freely, latch securely, and have no sharp protrusions.
      • Nonslip flooring.
      • Unloading area and ramps in good repair (e.g., no broken cleats, holes, or gaps).
      • Adequate lighting.
      • Staff available for receiving animals.

      Lessons from the Pork Industry? What the Pork Industry Has Done

      In the United States, the National Pork Board has provided a platform for transporter training, Transporter Quality Assurance (

      TQA (Transport Quality Assurance). 2016. TQA Certification. Pork Checkoff–National Pork Board. Accessed May 20, 2016. www.pork.org/tqa-certification.

      ), since 2005 with updates every 3 yr. The program has provided in-person and online training with a certification process for several years. The majority of large packers within the United States require drivers to show proof of their Transporter Quality Assurance certification before entering the slaughter facility. This has been made possible by the database and certification cards that the National Pork Board has made available to packers as part of the training program resources. Although started only 1 yr before the Master Cattle Transporter program, the Transporter Quality Assurance program has been able to far surpass the adoption rate seen with the Master Cattle Transporter program at beef slaughter plants. Currently, in the cattle industry, existence of training videos, manuals, and some online training certification alone is not enough to make the Master Cattle Transporter program a required training for delivering to terminal markets or other stops within the cycle. If entities are going to require certification, there needs to be a reliable method of accessing specific driver training certification information—for instance an employee at a packing plant needs to have access to a database in which they can search current training information for all the drivers arriving at their facility. From discussions with some of the larger packers, if this type of system existed, more companies would begin to require drivers to provide proof that they have had some type of animal handling training, preferably training from one program developed and endorsed by the cattle industry. The effectiveness of this type of program and its support by the industry will be based on the ease with which it can be implemented and maintained, the ability for it to be enforced or verified, and how comprehensive the program is (
      • Fraser D.
      Animal welfare assurance programs in food production: A framework for assessing the options.
      ). Based on previous efforts in the United States, historical obstacles to implementation of a cattle transportation certification program appear to be associated with difficulty getting all involved parties to agree on uniform program structure, guidelines, training components, and implementation; the need for one organization with adequate and appropriate staff to oversee it; and financial self-sustainability of the program to cover inherent costs.

      WHAT IS NEXT?

      The beef industry must be able to show commitment to a transporter training and certification program that includes a practical and robust verification process that can be used throughout the supply chain. The beef industry needs to take advantage of the growing momentum surrounding development of transporter training tools and verification programs. The beef industry needs to harness the energy around continual improvement of animal welfare and create a cattle transporter quality assurance program. The industry will require more research to improve cattle transportation and associated BMP. Studies focusing on loading density, weather and trailer environment, and transport distance and duration could certainly provide insight into more appropriate management and animal handling techniques during the transportation phase of the cattle production cycle. Results would be included in future training and certification materials.
      End product users, including large food service entities and packing companies, are demanding one uniform transportation quality assurance system for cattle with accountability to address and decrease cattle transportation-related welfare concerns. To satisfy these demands, the cattle industry will need:
      • 1.
        Sound research data, likely including a nationwide benchmark audit with built-in follow-up audits to enable continuous monitoring of transportation parameters and animal-based outcomes;
      • 2.
        Development of robust, uniform, consistent, and agreed-upon guidelines for animal handling and transport via widespread input and buy-in from cattle producers, industry organizations, transportation companies, auction markets, packers of all sizes (including those focused on market cows), and end product users;
      • 3.
        Education of cattle transportation employees in all segments of the value chain about guidelines; and
      • 4.
        Implementation of one cattle transporter quality assurance program specifically for individuals who transport cattle or are involved with transportation processes that provides the ability for verification of certification via an online database and certification cards.
      Creation of a certification program will require science-based guidelines that rely on transportation-related research data, including access to data published in peer-reviewed journals. Currently, such data are extremely limited. Ultimately, implementation of a certification program may provide the single greatest incentive for subsequent implementation of producer-level Beef Quality Assurance Certification throughout the entire beef supply chain—transportation is the only common link across all industry segments.

      CONCLUSIONS

      Some segments of the supply chain have expressed a readiness to move to the next level of transporter training and certification. As demonstrated in the past, retailers and packers have been able to drive significant positive change in the arena of animal welfare (
      • Mench J.A.
      Farm animal welfare in the U.S.A.: Farming practices, research, education, regulation and assurance programs.
      ), and these groups have supported increased transporter training. Although the substantial size of the cattle transportation network may make the task sound daunting, integration of transportation training through the industry and its importance will make adoption of principles and programs more powerful. Transporter training and certification will hopefully become another accomplishment to add to the list of many that producers, consignors, packers, and retailers have jointly created and implemented. The hope is that at the next Cattle Transportation Symposium, the beef industry will be able to show the beginnings of a new transporter training and certification program that includes a practical and robust verification process to be used throughout the supply chain.

      ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

      This symposium paper was funded by the Beef Checkoff of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, 9110 East Nichols Avenue, Centennial, CO 80112, 303-694-0305.

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