Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1981

Abstract

The behavior of 164kg Angus and Hereford calves was studied in a double deck 26m x 2.6m "jumbo" railcar equipped with feed and water. A 4,180 liter water tank positioned in the center of each deck divided the car into four compartments. Fifty head were loaded into the lower and upper forward compartment (252kg/m2floor space], each containing 675kg of hay in racks. The two rear compartments served as quarters for equipment and researchers. Two video cameras were mounted in the upper forward compartment containing calves. Behavior of the calves was monitored, with portions video taped during rail transport from Memphis, Tennessee to Amarillo, Texas (57 hr) in June, 1979. The calves commenced eating and drinking immediately after being loaded in the railcar. Up to 75% of the cattle could lie down while the car was not in motion (14.4 hr of trip]. Calves stood at high speeds (80km/h] on unimproved track but continued to eat, drink and move about. Self and mutual grooming commonly occurred while traveling up to 40km/hr. Railcar temperature and relative humidity ranged from 17.8 to 41.1°C and 54 to 99%, respectively, and was identical to outside. Weight loss for 50 similar calves shipped by truck was 10.6% while rail calves lost 4.5% during truck transport to the railcar (11.3 hr) and 2.1% during rail transport for a total of 6.6%. Average daily gain (ADG) from initial weight to 7 days postshipment was .45kg for rail and -.02kg for truck, but ADG became similar at 30 days indicating full recovery. One truck calf was dead on arrival and 8% of the truck and 5% of the rail calves were treated for shipping fever. Excluding feedcosts, rail transport at 252kg/m 2 floor space costs 30% less per calf than transport in fully loaded trucks.