Drivers’ ed

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Whether it’s a rancher hauling a few cows to the sale barn or a commercial trucker loading a semi with “fats” for the packer, drivers play a vital role in beef quality assurance and animal welfare. That’s the motivation behind NCBA’s Transportation Quality Assurance program, says Ryan Ruppert, the organization’s senior director for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA).

Ruppert says that while NCBA has provided training and information on cattle-transport practices since 2006, the program continues to evolve. NCBA now offers an online training and certification program for ranchers or commercial drivers.

Ruppert notes that documenting participation in such a program, as with the BQA program overall, has become increasingly valuable in addressing concerns of retailers and consumers. Some small packing plants, he adds, now require certification through the program for drivers to deliver cattle to their facilities.

The program covers a variety of topics related to cattle transport, including:

  • Cattle handling guidelines & diagrams
  • Checklists for loading/unloading
  • Checklists for hot/cold weather factors
  • Checklists for fit/injured/weak cattle
  • Checklist for traveling
  • Loading suggestions and worksheets
  • Bio-security & Emergency Action Plans

Participants who complete the course receive a certificate and a certification number, with the certification lasting three years.

Ruppert says critical skills for anyone hauling cattle include first, being able to determine whether cattle are fit for transport, to ensure animal welfare and avoid regulatory challenges when crossing state lines or unloading cattle at their destination. Recognizing the importance of animal-handling skills overall, NCBA enlisted the help of experts such as Temple Grandin in developing the training modules.

The Transport Quality Assurance training program is available on the BQA website.

  • Other training packages available on the site include:
  • Comprehensive Beef Quality Assurance
  • Feedlot Management Beef Quality Assurance
  • Feedlot Processor Beef Quality Assurance
  • Feedlot Doctor Beef Quality Assurance
  • Feed Mill Beef Quality Assurance
  • Feed Delivery Beef Quality Assurance
  • Cow/Calf Beef Quality Assurance
  • Stocker/Backgrounder Beef Quality Assurance
  • Non Ambulatory Cattle Management Training
  • Calving Management
  • Humane Equine Management


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Texas  |  April, 14, 2012 at 12:05 AM

This article made me think of a situation I witnessed many years ago while working at the sales barn when I was a kid. This old black man backed his pickup up to the unloading ramp. He had two old bent-up metal gates somehow mounted to the bed of the truck. And standing very still in the middle of the bed was this huge bull. The bulls head hung way over the cab and the tail was hanging out the back. Us boys were wondering how the old man could keep that bull from completely tearing up those gate, side boards and jumping out. Once the old man had bumped the ramp, he got out of the truck and we gathered around to help. The old man told us to get back on the fence, cuz when he cut the barbed wire off that bulls balls he didn't know which way he'd jump.

Florida  |  April, 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM

Great story comment. Just made my day.

Jimmie Mathews    
Texas  |  April, 15, 2012 at 08:34 PM

Read this article with great interest. Though not a farmer/rancher, I am impressed with the program. From some of the things I have seen these are long overdue. I have a friend in Tennessee I have helped with calves and, several times helped an uncle as a teenager. Though both these gentlemen knew what they were doing, I would have been a better assistant with some training such as this.

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