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Transport and Stockyards

Sheep
Animal Protection Institute photographed this sheep in 108° weather. (M. Engebretson, “Long Distance Transport,” Satya, Nov. 2006, p 48.)

Crammed together while standing or lying in a slurry of urine, feces, and vomit, animals must constantly brace themselves against the movement of the truck.10,16 Those who fall and can’t get up may be trampled or suffocate.16

The slatted trucks expose the animals to extreme temperatures.2,10 Some may suffer dehydration or frostbite, or become frozen to the trailers or cages.10,34,16

Hot weather and humidity are deadly to pigs.10 Approximately 200,000 pigs die on their way to slaughter every year in the United States.35

“Downers” are animals too weak, sick, or injured to stand – even when shocked with electric prods. Please see this 2008 Washington Post article and HSUS video about the treatment of downer cows.

Pigs in truck Downed cow
Above: Pigs loaded in Oklahoma are trucked to a slaughterhouse south of Mexico City, more than 30 hours away (photo courtesy of Animal Protection Institute); and a downed cow is left to die at a stockyard as her calf watches (photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary).

“Like this bull I had last year – this bull was one of the biggest bulls I’ve ever seen. It was at the very front of the trailer. And the spirit it had, he was just trying his hardest to get off the trailer. He had been prodded to death by three or four drivers…but his back legs, his hips have given out. And so basically they just keep prodding it. So it took about 45 minutes to get it from the front nose of the trailer to the back ramp.…

“Then from there it was chained with its front legs, and it fell off the ramp, smashed onto the floor, which I don’t know how many feet that would be but quite a racket…I just said, ‘Why don’t you shoot the damn thing? What’s going on? What about this Code of Ethics?’

“This one guy said, ‘I never shoot. Why would I shoot a cow that can come off and there’s still good meat there?’ When I first started, I talked to another trucker about downers. He said, ‘You may as well not get upset. It’s been going on for many years. It will go on for the rest of my life and your life. So just calm down about it. It happens. You’ll get kind of bitter like I did. You just don’t think about the animals. You just think that they aren’t feeling or whatever.’”

interview with a Canadian livestock trucker, from A Cow at My Table, 1998 documentary

Turkeys on truck Downer pigs in holding pen Piglets
Above: Turkeys stacked for tranport (photo courtesy of Compassion Over Killing); downer pigs left in a holding pen (photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary); piglets stacked for transport. Below: A downed, disemboweled calf left to suffer at a Pennsylvania stockyard, where workers refused to humanely euthanize him (photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary); a pig who has collapsed in his vomit at the slaughterhouse; and a “deadpile” of pigs (photo courtesy of PETA). Click images for larger views.
Downed calf Pig collapsed in vomit Deadpile of pigs

“At Bushway, a calf slaughtering facility in Vermont, newborn male calves are typically brought in at one to seven days old. They are often trucked from long distances away, ten or twelve hours or more, and they often arrive injured, weak and dehydrated. As a result, calves may arrive ‘downed’ and unable to get up.…

“I witnessed animal handlers at Bushway grab a downed calf by a hind leg and drag him down an unloading ramp. Another calf was dragged through the holding pens. Dragging any non-ambulatory animal is against regulations. During another delivery, a handler swore at a downed calf and threw him off the second tier of the hauling trailer like a football.⁠…

Bushway calf
One of the calves who was slaughtered at the Bushway plant (photo courtesy of HSUS). Watch the video.

“Calves arriving at Bushway after slaughter hours were destined to spend yet another 12–18 hours without food, when already they had been deprived of sustenance for perhaps days, since they were usually removed from their mothers immediately after birth. Sometimes calves are held overnight and it always broke my heart that employees would carry the bodies of these dead baby calves out of the pen because they died of dehydration and starvation.”

Dr. Dean Wyatt, USDA FSIS Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian, in his testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, March 4, 2010

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