WITH nearly 300 cattle to move between four farms in the area around East Fingask, near Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, Willie Ritch values the independence and convenience of running his own tractor-towed cattle trailer.
“We have 80 suckler cows and fatten about 200 cattle each year. These are bought from the local mart, which is only five miles away, and the abattoir is seven miles away, so we can easily move the animals ourselves,” he says.
Animals are constantly moved from the main 180ha (445-acre) farm to three 40ha (100-acre) units nearby, so the trailer‘s capacity and road handling – there is a sprung drawbar and axle suspension to give stock a more comfortable ride – are welcome.
“Having our own trailer means we can collect or deliver cattle when we want to without having to book a haulage contractor. We can fit up to 10 cows or fat cattle in the 5m long, 2.5m wide Stewart trailer.”
He says that the aluminium bodied float is a lot easier to look after than its predecessor, which was made from steel. The paint started coming off after just a year due to the corrosive action of slurry, says Mr Ritch.
“After eight years, the steel floor of the old float was nearly rusted through, but the new aluminium trailer is fine. It is also a lot easier to clean. Last year, when vets were checking trailers, we had no problems because we washed ours regularly. But I heard of some owners spending up to fours hours pressure washing theirs because they had not cleaned them before.”
The trailer is pressure washed at the end of each working day. The only parts of the body thatarenot aluminium are the rear gates, which have wooden uprights fastened on to hinged steel crossbeams. There is also a central dividing gate made from aluminium with a wheel to keep it at the correct height.
“We have small pens which we can back the trailer up to for loading and there is a ramp on one of the farms that the previous owner built. The trailer fits it perfectly,” adds Mr Ritch.
As well as cattle, the trailer is also used to move store lambs, which are fattened during the winter months. “The sheep deck is the only big option we went for and it is easy to carry over 120 lambs from the mart. When travelling to the abattoir, we can fit 100 lambs on board.”
Most stock is moved along back roads so a slurry box is not a necessity, says Mr Ritch. “Slurry is only a problem after moving cows all day, like in the spring. But next time I change the trailer, I might think of getting one fitted so if I go through a town, I‘ll have nothing to worry about.”