Livestock Hauling Jobs - Livestock Hauling FAQ’s
Are you thinking about becoming a livestock hauler?
If you live in a city where livestock is frequently transported locally, regionally or across the country, you might be thinking about these types of trucking positions. Livestock hauling might not be for every kind of trucker. Remember, you’re dealing with live animals. This isn’t haulin’ BBQ sauce to Wal-Mart. You might be rollin’ down the highway with a truckload of pigs, chickens, cows, or other animals.
Not only will you need your CDL, but you’ll need to understand the job duties, pay expectations, and other important information before making a decision about hauling livestock.
In the sections that follow, we answer some common questions drivers have before applying for livestock trucking jobs. Whether you want to work for livestock hauling companies or seek owner operator livestock jobs, we can help you talk to potential employers.
Use our directory of trucking schools and hiring companies that want to talk to you about trucking positions. Maybe they can even help you pursue livestock hauling employment?
Are you ready to earn your CDL?
Are you looking for a job?
What are livestock hauling jobs?
Livestock hauling typically describes driving cattle, hogs or other live animals from one destination to another. In this role, it helps a lot to have experience working on a farm or ranch. You will likely work with a lot of ranch owners and companies run by people who have spent generations in the livestock industry.
Hauling animals also takes extreme care. Although you may not need your HAZMAT endorsement to transport this cargo, you will need to be more mindful of what you’re hauling than if it were stacks of boxes on pallets, for instance.
What are the requirements to haul livestock?
Unlike other trucking jobs that require additional endorsements, you typically just need a CDL-A for this job. However, most states have their own sets of regulations for animal care. Usually you have to pass a quality assurance type test, along with biometric training. Being fully conscious of the needs of the animals takes time, patience and knowledge.
Job listings for livestock drivers are usually up front about the potential physical demands involved in this type of trucking job. In some roles, you’ll need to have the ability to sit and remain alert for up to 11 hours at a time and work irregular schedules in extreme conditions. You will have to handle equipment while dealing with loading and unloading livestock. You might have to spend about 20-25% of your time working outside your truck – are you ready for that?
What are the duties of livestock trucking jobs?
If you want to be successful in a livestock trucking job, you’ll need to be someone who can care for animals, and keep your trailer clean at all times. You’ll need to completely sanitize and wash the whole trailer when you are done with your run. Performing pre- and post-trip inspections is essential to your job functions as well.
There are also specific duties that apply to livestock care. You will have to follow Transport Quality Assurance and proper animal handling guidelines. This includes biosecurity compliance during all phases of your trip.
Quality Assurance Programs
Ranchers are very protective of their cattle and other livestock. Remember, your cargo is their livelihood. Think of hauling livestock as one half transporting their cargo, and one half taking care of their kids. Be sure to pay special attention to the procedures and information that is included in the quality assurance programs required by your state.
Here are some tips that you may learn as part of your training:
• Never approach cattle directly from behind.
• Be patient and take it slow when loading and unloading. This may not be part of your duty as a driver; but if you are called to help, or if you have to – this is not a job for someone with a short fuse.
• Be mindful of weather and road conditions. Try to plan your trips when the heat or cold won’t be extreme.
• Avoid road construction, which can cause delays and stress to the animals.
• If you have to travel with livestock in windy or harsh conditions, get there as quickly as possible – without stopping if you can do so safely.
• Cattle gain their balance around the first hour of your trip – take it slow and watch turns during your whole trip, but especially in the beginning miles.
• Do not travel with overcrowded loads. You should check with your state’s standards to find out the exact head count capacity for each type of livestock in different size trailers.
• Ranchers will inspect your trailer for cleanliness – it’s important not to miss any details when you perform your own pre-trip inspection.
Company vs. owner operator livestock jobs
First of all, if you want to compare what it’s like to work for a livestock trucking company to working as an owner-operator, it’s not much different than other types of driving. In addition to the skills needed to operate the truck and equipment, you’ll need to have animal handling training. This is why it’s better to get experience with a company before becoming your own owner-operator – unless you’ve been working with animals all your life.
Many companies have owner-operator opportunities for livestock haulers. This includes Steve’s Livestock Transport, which is the largest livestock transportation company in the U.S. They are respected by drivers because they offer animal handling training, as well as the Trucker Quality Assurance certification training you need to transport livestock.
They also offer drivers load and lane options. You can transport hogs, cattle, iso-weans, and other commonly transported livestock. Lanes include short haul (1-2 days), long haul (2-5 days), and Monday-Friday workweeks (with the requirement to work one weekend per month).
If you work an owner-operator position at a company like Steve’s, you can expect to receive many of the same competitive benefits, such as medical/dental/vision plans, safety benefits and other forms of compensation that company drivers receive. However, if you gun sling it completely on your own and just work for hire, you’ll have to take care of your own insurance, retirement, etc.
What are the top states for livestock trucking jobs?
According to CattleNetwork.com, Texas had the most cattle in the United States in 2015, with 11.8 million head. The next two in line are Kansas and Nebraska, which combine for 13% of the cattle in the US. Of course, there may be livestock driving opportunities in many states.
But here are the top 10 states for livestock production:
8.) South Dakota
What is the average livestock hauling driver salary?
Although we cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics for our official salary data, we found estimates for the livestock truck driver salary on Indeed.com. Their data is based on their own findings and job listings. According to their numbers, livestock drivers can expect to make around $61,000 per year (October, 2016).
Livestock hauling rates and pay can vary, depending on size of load, company you work for, and other factors.
Animal welfare programs
Your state will have its own set of guidelines for your livestock hauling role. That’s another reason why it can be helpful to use our listings to talk to schools and companies. They can tell you what kind of additional training you may need, in addition to your CDL-A.
Here is an example of a training guide for cattle transportation companies and drivers who work livestock trucking jobs to follow. These guidelines are meant to help companies stay compliant with USDA FSIS Animal Handling requirements and National Beef Cattle Welfare.
The Global Animal Partnership is another organization that you may learn about when you train to haul livestock. They have an animal welfare program that seeks to recognize and set guidelines for animal friendly environments. This ensures that everyone on the supply chain delivers healthy animals – and healthy meat products to consumers. As more and more consumers are becoming conscious of where their food comes from, expect to see standards like these promoted when you transport livestock.
Real life owner operator livestock jobs
Waldo and Kathy Westrum are owners of a custom cattle hauling business they started after “retiring” from their previous jobs as ranchers themselves. They know a thing or two about cattle, so they bought a trailer and started a little side business that more than pays for itself.
Waldo and Kathy are just the kind of drivers that livestock owners want hauling their animals. Since they have experience with their own cattle, they know how to make sure they have as smooth of a ride as possible. It has been found that stress can cause an animal’s meat quality to suffer.
Are you ready to find livestock hauling employment opportunities near you?
The best way to learn what you can expect to earn is to contact schools and trucking companies near you. They can let you know what the employment outlook is like for livestock truckers near you – or what the best options for pursuing this role are for you.
Take the next step towards livestock hauling employment with a company in your area. Contact the companies and trucking schools near you to learn more about these opportunities, and others that might be right for you!