ON THE SAME PAGE: Canadian livestock haulers are coordinating their training efforts to ensure drivers are properly trained.Photo by Steven Macleod
OLDS, Alta. – Driver safety and the safety of other vehicles on the road are a chief concern in the trucking industry.
When a third factor gets added into the equation, additional safety measures also need to be calculated, which is the basis for a certification program developed specifically for livestock haulers.
The first Canadian Certified Livestock Transporters (CLT) ‘Train-the-Trainer’ workshop was held at Olds College in Alberta on May 17, to bring standardized certification to livestock hauling.
The one-day workshop attracted 36 trainers and 11 observers from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, aimed at training instructors to deliver the CLT training program.
“It builds on 12 years of work we’ve done with the livestock transport industry. They’ve identified the need for training and enhanced certification for truckers. It was built from there with smaller cattle and pig hauling certification courses,” explained Susan Church, manager of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC). “We got the sense there would be an increased demand, so truckers need to prove they can haul a live load, it’s not just boxes.”
The CLT is a multi-species training program for Canadian-based livestock shippers, truckers and receivers operating within the North American food production system. The program is a response to industry requests for increased accountability and skill upgrading for those responsible for the relocation of live animals.
“It’s multi-species so it’s designed to be for more than one animal because some truckers haul more than one species,” Church told Truck News. “We wanted this to be an industry-driven approach, staying one step ahead and driving it. That’s so critical.”
The program covers livestock handling, loading, biosecurity and transport regulatory requirements for Canada and the US. It also includes instruction on recognizing and dealing with livestock not fit to be transported, as well as emergency accident response.
There is a general section to the program and species-specific modules for cattle, hogs, sheep, horses and poultry.
“The first thing is the fact there are regulations. They need to be understood and communicated to the truckers; it’s a priority of the program,” noted Church. “They need to understand the live animal itself and the risk factor involved. We’re giving the truckers the tools to skillfully transport livestock humanely.”
Church also noted one of the biggest benefits of the program is the ability to reach out to such a vital link – the livestock haulers.
“There are a lot of activists and public eyes focused on the transportation of livestock,” she added. “They’re ready to put it into a negative light and this shows the industry takes humane transport seriously.”
In Alberta alone, from a study done in 2002, on any one day there are between 480 and 500 loads of livestock on the highway. Those statistics only include commercial loads and 40% of hogs are transported non-commercially, which are not factored in.
“You aren’t just a truck driver anymore,” said Keith Horsburgh, owner of Grace Cattle Carriers in Brooks, Alta. “We need to be educated and show we are professionals; and this program is bringing drivers to a new level.”
Horsburgh has been involved in cattle hauling for a number of decades and sat on the program’s advisory board, along with fellow cattle hauler Marie Diamond, owner of Copperhead Transport based in Carstairs, Alta.
“We need to standardize some practices and bring to light the regulations and legislation in regards to the proper handling of livestock,” explained Diamond. “As BSE hampered the industry we lost a lot of livestock haulers.”
“We lost people with years of experience that you’ll never replace,” added Horsburgh. “We went from 20 to 14 units at that time. The experience we lost was just devastating.”
With the emergence of the CLT program, industry stakeholders are hoping to create a standardized, unified certification for livestock haulers.
“The industry has always been responsible but now there’s a title and it has come full circle,” said Diamond.
“It’s due diligence and it says we are qualified and have the training to do this; education is paramount and part of this is education,” Horsburgh told Truck News. “It gives us an avenue to promote ourselves to the industry saying we are qualified to be professional livestock haulers.”
The program is ever evolving and provides the industry with a route to develop changes and communicate changes effectively throughout the industry.
“The biggest winners will be the animals,” commented Diamond. “You have to balance the safety of drivers and animals; loading huge animals, everybody has to be safe.”
Representatives of feedlots, meat plants, assembly yards, trucking firms, and government along with independent trainers and industry organizations attended the workshop.
“Seeing many different people, like CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency), who are on side with this makes you realize nobody here is just blowing smoke,” said Abe Schroeder, traffic manager for Dunn-Rite Food Products. “We’re all after the same thing and that’s training our people to do the best.”
Dunn-Rite is a poultry processing plant in Winnipeg with eight company drivers. The plant operates 12 trucks and 15 trailers, transporting chickens within 150 kilometres of the city.
“I got into the transportation end and the well-being of the animals is at the top of my mind,” Shroeder explained. “Especially to learn about the emergency response, being able to respond quickly to rollovers – knock on wood because we’ve never had one.”
Another aspect of the workshop Shroeder was intrigued by was the group discussions. Rather than a lecture, the workshop provided an avenue for the two-way discussion of ideas. “When you hear what you’re doing right it makes you feel pretty good and you can incorporate everyone else’s ideas into your operation,” he added.
Daryl Toews of Reimer Trucking in Linden, Alta. has been in livestock hauling for a couple of decades now, and brought along one of his trailers to give the workshop attendees a first-hand view of its components.
His operation hauls primarily hogs and although the trailers have advanced during his time, the biggest change he has seen is in the attitude of the industry.
“Livestock haulers and truckers in general weren’t thought of in the best light, but now they’re being trained for their own specific type of trucking,” Toews told Truck News. “You don’t just buy a truck and send them down the road anymore.”
Toews was also involved in the program’s advisory committee and although the training is essential to the industry’s success, the biggest challenge might be overcoming public opinion.
“Right now the biggest challenge is the view the public has of our business,” said Toews. “We’re trying to make the public aware of what we’re doing in a proper and humane way.”
The CLT program was originally developed by AFAC, in conjunction with an extensive industry advisory group. Interest in CLT spread across Canada and the organization’s sister groups in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have become involved through the joint project: Putting Farm Animal Welfare on the Agenda.
“We’re in contact all the time, sharing information and ideas,” said Crystal Mackay, executive director for the Ontario Farm Animal Council. “Alberta had talked about taking the lead and this started out at first as a provincial program. So the concept is, if it’s applicable nationally then it’s kind of a big advantage.”
At first OFAC was going to modify the course for the Ontario market, but members do not just stay inside the province, so OFAC figured neither should the training. Working with the other provincial associations, AFAC aided in developing CLT to become a national program, which aims to standardize procedures for drivers to create a solid livestock hauling industry.
“It’s making it easier on truckers and the animals,” ad
ded Mackay. “To expand it to be applicable to any species is great.”