This month's article for the Hi-Line Farm & Ranch tab is a photo essay of the Waid Ranch's yearling operation in the Bear Paw Mountains. Lon and Stacy Waid have been raising yearlings since 2003, the year that a drought caused them to switch their operation from cow-calf to yearling.
Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch
Jeremy Couch, a truck driver hauling cattle that day, stands on railings in his trailer as cattle, walking under him, are herded aboard for transportation from the Waids' ranch to a feed lot in Colorado. Another important function of weighing the cattle is to let truckers know how many cattle they can fit on their trailers legally since states have hauling weight restrictions of around 100,000 pounds. "Most trucks weigh 32,000 pounds which gives us 60-or-so-thousand pounds to use," said Billmayer. "Now this can differ between trucks, depending on the number of axles they have and on the state laws. But the general rule of thumb is that the more axles you have, the more cattle you can carry." In order to ship all the cattle eight trucks were brought to the Waids' ranch that day. Each truck, holding on average 60 head of cattle, took roughy 30 minutes to fill. The process of getting cattle on the trailers involves breaking down the total number of cattle to be loaded onto the trailer into groups that can fit the various compartments in those trailers. The inside of a livestock trailer contains trap doors and walls that slide and fall to give a trucker the ability to distribute the cattle evenly and safely into the available spaces of the two levels. Even with the trap doors it is not an easy task. Being confined in a space barely 10 feet across and less then 7 feet tall with an animal that weighs hundreds of pounds more than you can lead to some serious injury if the trucker is not careful.