As shows continue to become more competitive, those who are willing to take the time to pay attention to detail will ultimately find the most success. It is common to spend an elaborate amount of time focused on feeding, exercising, showing and other various forms of show day preparation. While these are all very important, a key component to a successful show is the haul, and many times this important detail is overlooked or taken for granted. Preparing your trailer is often put off and more glamorous tasks seem to be focused on first. However, starting the journey out with a bad haul can be a hard thing to recover from in a short period of time. Here are a few pointers we have found to make this phase of the trip more successful.
Sanitation: Thoroughly cleaning your trailer is the first step. Remove all old bedding and pressure wash the interior. Disinfecting your trailer once old bedding has been removed is important to reduce health risks the trailer may be contaminated by from previous hauls as well as external parasites that may have inhabited bedding. A clean trailer will not only help maintain the good skin and hair you have worked for, but also prevent illness.
Bedding: Bed Heavy! Proper bedding of a trailer will not only provide cushion for a more comfortable trip and decrease the chance of trauma to joints, but will also aid in preventing staining from aluminum. A mixture of both fine and medium flake shavings will provide a compact base from the packing ability of the fine shavings with less separation wile the medium shavings help reduce dust and provide more cushion.
Temperature: It’s important to look at the weather forecast and be prepared for what’s ahead. This becomes more critical during more extreme seasons. Make sure you have the proper tools to keep the pigs warm during cold weather and cool in the heat. Be sure that fans, heaters, heat lamps and other devices are secured safely for the haul. Check them periodically while you travel to ensure they are functioning properly.
Ventilation: Adjust both the vents on the roof and on the sides of the trailer for the correct airflow and proper ventilation. Remember on long trips that they may need to be adjusted multiple times throughout the day as the temperature changes.
Space: Make sure that you have the right amount of pens and correct pen size to allow your pigs to haul comfortably. With many of the new trailers pens are adjustable to accommodate larger pigs versus smaller prospects, so adjust accordingly.
Preparation of Stock: Taking a proactive approach to the stress your stock will be exposed to will reduce the negative effects it will have on them. Vita Charge® is a great pre-show preparation tool that will ensure gut health and appetite, but needs to be started a minimum of 48 hours prior to leaving. Administering every 12 hours through the duration of the show will ensure the best opportunity to keep them on feed and help promote a positive immune system while traveling.
Loading: Pigs are creatures of habit so if it is an option, load the trailer in the order in which they are used to at home allowing for them to be penned close to pigs they are comfortable by. This will reduce the stress level as they haul. It never hurts to practice loading them on the trailer prior to your first show as well to cut down on the stress. Use a ramp that has a non-slip grip and gradual angle to the ground and be patient!