Tips and criteria for choosing a livestock trailer

A livestock trailer must be easy to use and allow you to work in complete safety. Laying on the ground, noise-reducing and non-slip flooring, ease of opening and closing the doors are all elements to take into account before investing.

When breeders invest in a cattle truck, they generally have two priorities: ergonomics and safety. The equipment must be functional. Among the other criteria that guide their choice, then come robustness and price.

Single-storey livestock carrier

In terms of ergonomics, there is an element on which there is more and more consensus, it is the system single storey. Developed 25 years ago by the Breton company Roland, it has since been taken over by all the other manufacturers. It consists of lowering the entire livestock trailer to ground level to facilitate the loading and unloading of the animals. No steps, no ramps.

Thanks to the lowering axle system, the wheels fit into the body, the bottom of the trailer at the rear touches the ground. This laying device on the ground is made with hydraulic suspension and lifting on nitrogen balls.

At the Cuma des Châtaigniers, in Orsennes (Indre), there was no debating when buying a new livestock trailer about two years ago. All 11 users wanted a system pose on the ground : “The animals climb much better, there is no comparison”, summarizes Grégory La Valette, one of the breeders.

The cattle are less stressed, there is no bridge to maneuver, “it saves time” highlights Aurélien Papillon, commercial director of the Sarthoise company Bruneauacquired recently by cosnet industries. Two-thirds of the cattle trucks it sells today are laid on the ground (on one level), the additional cost is far from prohibitive, around €1,000 according to the manufacturers. Another advantage, “the suspension system on the axle reduces shocks during transportation and therefore the stress for the animals” observes Yvon Rouxel, president of the Cuma d’Yffiniac (Côtes-d’Armor), who also bought a single-storey cattle truck.

Automated door opening

Cattlewoman Bruneau
The opening of the doors of the livestock trailer, like the deployment of the barriers, must be simple. (© Bruneau)

Ergonomics also involves door opening and closing systems. “The simpler it is, the better, warns Aurélien Papillon. If it is necessary to intervene on three points to close a door, it begins to be complicated and long. »

Once the last cattle are in, the rear door must be close automatically. Security systems exist with some manufacturers. Thus, if an animal pushes a door violently, it automatically locks at 90°. Systems anti-reverse also exist, to maintain the opening at a given position (90°, 135°) and obtain a funnel effect if necessary. To facilitate the opening and closing of the doors, the company Lenormand (Manche) has designed a radio-controlled door opening and closing system, which won an Innov’Space this year. The doors are operated by hydraulic cylinders. “A safety system limits the closing force in order to protect the animals and the user”, warns the manufacturer.

Soundproof and non-slip coating

The floor covering is also a crucial element in the choice of a livestock trailer, because it is a question of both comfort and security. If you buy for the sole use of your farm, no hesitation, you should opt for a non-slip coating of the resin type: this very significantly reduces noise and therefore stress for both the animals and the breeder.

If the purchase is made in Cumaon the other hand, “it is necessary that the floor is easily cleanable”, warns Michel Seznec, facilitator at the Union of Cuma des Pays-de-la-Loire. The floor must be disinfected between two uses to prevent the spread of microbism. However, a resin bottom resists very badly to detergents and does not support the Kärcher at 150 bars.

At Cuma des Châtaigniers (Indre), “the surface was a bit of a weak point”, confirms Grégory La Valette. The first livestock trailer, bought fifteen years ago, had a resin bottom which was damaged prematurely. A checker plate floor has the advantage of being easy to wash, but “as it ages, with wear, the all-metal floor becomes slippery,” notes Yvon Rouxel. La Cuma L’Yffiniacaise which he presides has opted for a covering in rubber crushed agglomerated two centimeters thick. The additional cost was €1,500 compared to a checker plate bottom.

Another compromise solution, but more expensive, is the aluminum bottom on marine wooden floor, non-slip and resistant to humidity: “It reduces noise, the animals are no longer scared”, assures Aurélien Papillon, commercial director of Bruneau.

Laterally folding barriers

The choice of external tubular barriers obviously depends on the uses. They fold up behind the trailer or laterally. They allow you to organize a containment corridor of several meters to facilitate the loading of the animals. Michel Seznec, animator of the Union of Cuma of Pays-de-la-Loire recommends the collapsible barriers on the side of the trailer. The system is faster to deploy. If the Cuma La Valette chose barriers that fold up at the back, it is solely for economic reasons: “It was €4,000 cheaper! »

The systems of partitions inside the trailer must also be as functional as possible. “Often, we are offered a large panel in the form of a tube barrier, something heavy and dangerous, says Yvon Rouxel, from Cuma d’Yffiniac. I pushed for a sliding system, adjustable along the rails, and I’m satisfied with it. » The models of partitions that can be positioned by hand cost less but are much less ergonomic. Rail systems are definitely more functional. And for greater ease of use, Aurélien Papillon (Bruneau) advises to “prefer systems on rollers with bearings rather than Mantion rails”.

Last element not to be overlooked, robustness. A livestock trailer must last over time. It is therefore necessary to be vigilant on the design of the body and the chassis. “The more folds there are, the more posts there are, the more solid it is”, sums up Aurélien Papillon. Because it is the fold that makes the rigidity of the sheet.

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