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Livestock Trailer Safety

Utilizing a livestock trailer to transport animals from one place to another is common among farms and sale auctions. This method of livestock transportation increases during the summer as exhibitors attend a variety of shows in and outside of Minnesota. Trailer safety is essential to decrease the chances of a costly incident happening to you and your livestock. Before you hit the road, ensure that your vehicle and trailer are in good condition for the animal and equipment to arrive safely to the desired location.

Below are several steps to complete when preparing to transport animals this summer:

  • Know your vehicle. Check the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW) to know the towing capacity of the vehicle or your vehicle weight plus the loaded trailer weight. Additional weigh such as fuel, passengers and cargo (livestock) must also be included.
  • Know the law. Depending on the species of animal, the need for health testing, veterinary inspection and official identification paperwork will vary based on the purpose of transporting and destination. Additionally, all state-federal highways laws must be followed including licensing and DOT numbering requirements.
  • Check all tires including the spare tire for quality, proper air pressure, and tread. The tire’s lug nuts should also be checked to ensure the tires are snugly attached to the vehicle and trailer.
  • When hooking the vehicle up to the trailer, the ball should be appropriately sized and greased for the hitch. The ball should be lock into place along with the safety chains attached as an additional safety precaution. For trailers that have brakes, check to see that they are in working order.
  • Check the electrical works for the vehicle and trailer. Make sure that all lights (brake lights, turn signals, and tail lights) work properly. A secure electrical connection between the vehicle and trailer must be made and maintained through the entire trip. 
  • Check the floor of the trailer to ensure that it can support the weight of the cargo. Additional floor mats may need to be added to provide traction for livestock.
  • Be prepared in case of a flat tire or accident. Have safety cones/ triangle, tire iron, and jack capable of lifting loaded trailer available to use during these situations.

Preparing the trailer for travel is essential to ensure a safe ride for you and your livestock. For more information about livestock trailer safety, check out the “Livestock Trailer Safety” article at for more tips and some helpful videos.


Karen Johnson
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 484-4303
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