Loading and Unloading Animals Properly

This truck loading/unloading facility has the dock elevated to truck height.

For all species, a plant should have sufficient unloading ramp capacity so trucks can be unloaded promptly. In large plants, at least two and preferably three ramps are required. Unloading ramps should have a level dock before the ramps go down so that animals have a level surface to walk on when they exit the truck. The slope of the ramp should not exceed 20 degrees. On concrete ramps, stair steps are recommended because they provide better traction than cleats or grooves when ramps the become dirty.

For cattle, the recommended stair step dimensions are 3 1/2 inch (9-10cm) rise and a 12-inch (30cm) long tread. If space permits, an 18-inch ( cm) long tread will create a more gradual ramp. For pigs, a 2 1/2 inch (6.35cm) rise and a 10-inch (25cm) tread works well. On adjustable ramps, cleats with 8 inches (20cm) of space between them are recommended. Ramps for small piglets will need much closer cleat spacing ( 3 inches/ 8cm). All flooring and ramp surfaces should be non-slip. Many animals are injured on slippery unloading ramps.

This design is for loading livestock. The cattle walk in a single file line and the ramp width is 30 inches (79cm).

Ramp and chute designs for pigs

Truck loading ramp for pigs.

Pigs move more easily through a ramp where they walk up side by side. The outer sides are solid and the middle partition is "see through" to promote following behaviour.

On the diagrams illustrating well designed pig races, the double chute is recommended. However, if space restriction is an issue, notice that the diagram without the entire double chute does promote pigs natural following behavior and prevents jamming with an offset step at the entrance of the chute. With the double chute design, the outer walls are solid, with a "see through" middle partition that further promotes following behaviour.

Layout design for pig handling facilities and/or ranches.

Example design for truck loading ramp for pigs with a curved chute and round crowd pen system for a meat plant.

Pig loading ramp with a dividing fence down the middle. Two pigs can walk up side by side and the dividing fence prevents them from turning around.The dividing fence is constructed so that pigs can see through it and the outer fences are solid.

On the farm when a barn is built it should have a 3ft (0.9m) wide alley like this. Fattening pigs will be easier to load onto trucks when they are moved through a 0.9m alley which allows 2 pigs to walk side by side. 100kg pigs will jam in a narrow 2ft (0.5m) wide alley. This picture shows a well designed alley for market weight pigs.

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