cow horizon

Transcripts from truckers' conversations with our investigators

 

COK’s investigators traveled through many states and talked with several truck drivers who haul farmed animals across the country. Here are a few excerpts from the transcripts:

Monday, July 25, 2005—Pennsylvania, 2:30 p.m.
Truck Driver Transporting Pigs from Pennsylvania to Ohio

[COK] Do you have to water them [pigs] down on the way or anything?

[Driver] Usually don’t. Usually there ain’t any place to do it. Supposed to do it every 24 hours if you have livestock on… no it’s every 36 hours your supposed to unload ‘em.

After 36 hours you’re supposed to unload them?

Yeah

And give them feed and water or something?

Feed and water them.

Is that the government that tells you to do that?

Yes. That’s been a standing law for forever. That started way back in the twenties.

So after 36 hours everybody has to stop and…

Supposed to. Now if you’re only 2 hours from where you’re going, you know, most guys aren’t going to do it.

Do people ever go 36 hours?

Oh yeah. Yeah, they’ll load dairy cattle out here [Pennsylvania] and take them to California and vice versa.


Thursday, July 28, 2005—Nebraska, 9:30 p.m.
Truck Driver Unloaded Cattle Prior to Interview

[COK] What would you say is the longest drive you’ve done with cattle?

I went from… Quebec down to Mexico. It was like 3400 miles.

How long does that take?

[laughing] Legally? Well I’ve been out for three weeks this uh … about midnight tonight and have done a little less or a little over 15,000 miles.

I talked to this guy who hauled pigs…

I’ll haul pigs every once and a while.

He said one exploded on his truck. I guess it’s really hard on them…

Yeah, it’s hard on them with the heat and all.

He said he lost 40 one time out of 300…

I know guys that (inaudible)… I was running with a guy from Sacramento through the Mojave Desert over to Texas. He lost 24 calves.

Just cause of the heat?

Yeah.

When you haul them do you have to stop and feed and water them?

The only time you stop and rest them are when you have dairy cattle on like, dairy heifers or calves. Kill cows, fat cattle you don’t.

You don’t stop? No matter how long you’re going?

[driver nods head yes]

So, when you did that Canada to Mexico [drive]…

I stopped because, just sleeping like that, you can’t go that long without, you know…

But the cows are still on the truck though right?

[driver nods head yes] When you pick up in Canada and you take to Mexico, their hooves cannot touch U.S. soil.

Oh really? Why is that?

They’re not, because of diseases, mad cow disease. You know it’s a lot easier to tip one of these too.

Does that happen very often?

One of our trucks just tipped over about three weeks ago.

Really? Where was that at?

I think it was here in Nebraska actually.

Did all the cows die?

No, I think 32 died.

[Driver gets into truck and shows me his log book.]

Here’s the log book. You know, like Santa Cruz to New Mexico. This is all wrong. It’s total bull—t. I cheat on here so much.

I’m sure everybody does though right.

Well, basically, but nothing like us [livestock transporters].


Saturday, July 30, 2005—Nebraska, 10:00 a.m.
Truck Driver Not Transporting Animals At Time of Interview

[COK] What’s the furthest you haul cattle?

Colorado to L.A. Colorado to New York.

How long does it take from Colorado to New York?

Ahh, … it depends on if you have one driver, two drivers and how much road you burn. [Laughing] It takes, uh, … by myself it takes me about … 52 hours.

New York City or … ?

Yeah.

Are there places in New York City that…

There’s a packing house in New York City just like in Los Angeles that take them right there on the hoof.

Cows?

Beef to New York. We take pigs to L.A.

52 hours from Colorado to New York?

Well that’s kinda illegal. No, it ain’t no 52 hours, what … am I thinking? No, it’s only like 36 hours. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was thinking out and back.

So do you take breaks on the way out there?

[Smiling] Occasionally.

Do you have to unload the cattle or anything, give them water or no?

[Shaking head no] They stay, can stay on there for 60 … 60 hours.

For 60 hours they’re on there?

[Inaudible]

They can last without water for that long?

[Nodding] Oh yeah.

I thought it only takes 36?

Dude, I don’t know. I’d have to take a look at my logbook. My log book wouldn’t even be right because it’s… [Shaking head] This logbook is bull—t.

Do you ever lose any animals?

Oh yeah.


Saturday, July 30, 2005—Nebraska 7:25 p.m.
Truck Driving Transporting Pigs from Kansas City, Missouri to Modesto, California

[COK] Where are you taking these guys?

California.

Where at in California?

Modesto.

How long is that going to take?

I’ll be there tomorrow this time probably?

It takes 24 hours to get there?

‘Bout that.

How long have you been going so far?

Oh, let’s see, I left about 11:00 this morning.

Have they been on this whole time?

Yeah. I’ll stop and sleep tonight… [inaudible]

Where do they go to?

Slaughterhouse.

Where did you pick these guys up?

Just east of Kansas City.

Just east of Kansas City, MO?

Yeah, probably 50 miles east.

So how many miles is that to Modesto?

Oh … 1600 miles from here probably. I’ve come just … [inaudible] … a little over 400. About that.

So that’s about 2000 miles?

Pretty close. [Nodding] Yeah, that’s correct, 2000 miles.

And they’re on the truck the whole time?

Yeah.

*

Do you pick these up from a farm or a livestock auction?

From this one guy. They are not from a market.

Do any of them die on the way?

Yeah, I have two dead ones right now. There’s one right here. [Pointing to a dead pig] You can just see him right here.

How often do you make this trip?

Oh, it depends. There’s a load that goes out of there every week. But I don’t haul it all.

Do you have to feed them also?

No, just keep them cool.

Is this your furthest route?

We haul a lot of dairy cattle out of Pennsylvania to California. And there’s some that come out clear up outta upstate New York.

So what do you do when you drop the pigs off? Do you bring back any other animals?

Yeah, I’ll get a load of feeder cattle and bring ‘em back here to Nebraska. Nebraska and Colorado.

Do they handle it better than pigs?

Yeah, you just have to make sure that, see cattle, you gotta make sure they don’t lay down, well, they can lay down, but if the cattle get caught on their side, they’ll die. A lot of times when they lay down some of them will step over the top of them and they’ll get out flat… so you have to stop and check cattle once and a while.

Do you have to unload those at all while you’re going?

If you’re going far enough you do but I’ve never rested feeder cattle.

So how many did you say are on here?

I’ve got 383 … 283 of these on here.

283.

Which I could have put a lot more on.