International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems


The behavior of 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 heads were loaded into the lower and upper forward compartments (252kg/m2 floor 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. The behavior of the calves was monitored, with portions video-taped during rail transport from Memphis, Tennessee, to Amarillo, Texas (57 hours) in June 1979. The calves commenced eating and drinking immediately after being loaded in the railcar. Up to 75% of the calves could lie down while the car was not in motion (14.4 hours of the trip]. Calves stood at high speeds (80km/h] on an unimproved track but continued to eat, drink and move about. Self and mutual grooming commonly occur while traveling up to 40km/hr. Railcar temperature and relative humidity ranged from 17.8 to 41.1oC and 54 to 99%, respectively, and were identical to the 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 hours] and 2.1% during rail transport for a total of 6.6%. Average daily gain (ADG) from initial weight to 7 days post shipment was .45kg for rail and -.02 kilograms 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 feed costs, rail transport at 252kglm 2-floor space costs 30% less per calf than transport in fully loaded trucks.