How To Load a Cow in 5 Easy Steps

How to Load a Cow.

If you raise beef cattle and you are not going to quarter and process them yourself, eventually you are going to have to take them to the processor.  This typically means you are going to have to get them into the carriage that will transport them to their final destination.

We have a fabulous processor close to home that looks more like an “animal spa” than a processor.  Everyone has comfy pens underroof.  The livestock are given hay and water while they are being held.  The facility is roomy, clean and brand spankin’ new.  It’s amazing.

Before the cows can spend the night at the spa – they must get there.  This is where the loading comes in.

Yes, some people process their own beef…. on their own farms.  They are known as….. “insane.”

OK, they are not insane, but they are way more adventurous than I am.

I have read articles that discuss how much better it is to process your own meat.  That your animals should end their life on the farm where they spent it.  That it is a sad, stressful, traumatic ending to a fabulous life if you take your animal to a processor.  Really.  There are people who think it is traumatizing to an animal to put them on a trailer and take them off the farm for their final departure.

Can I be the first to say.   They are wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

People are nuts.

If is is abusive, unkind or somehow inhumane to deliver you animal to a processor then every person who has taken their horse, pig, chicken, cow, sheep, goat, etc anywhere is abusive.

Think about it.  Horses to go to horse shows.  Animals go to county and state fairs.  Cows go to Ag-Day to meet the children.  Chickens go to livestock swaps.  There are: Sale barns, auctions, competitive events and more.  I do not think loading animals into a trailer and taking them somewhere is a bad thing.

I have animals who LOVE to jump in the trailer & go for rides.  I never once thought that I was abusing them.  Sheesh.

So, if you decide that you don’t want to kill and quarter your own cow, you have my permission to take them to a local processor.  I don’t think it’s mean or unkind.  For me, it is probably the better choice.  I certainly don’t know how to butcher a cow.  Could I? – yes, absolutely.  Do I want to? – not really.

Loading 15

So, if you aren’t butchering your own cow on your own farm –

This means you will be loading cattle.

We have loaded lots of cattle.  All the cows we have loaded, have been the ones we raised.  The cows that grow up here on our homestead think they are pets.  Pets are easy to load.

loading cattle 1

If you happen to be a calf living at our homestead you have it made.

You will have Faith or Rosie as your momma (or surrogate mommy). You will have green pastures to graze, bounce and play in.  You have warm cozy run-ins to retreat to in inclement weather.  We even have a heated milk barn should you ever want to join mamma during milking.

There are 4 enthusiastic, cow-loving children who will play with you, scratch you behind your ears, and brush you regularly.

loading 3

There will be buckets of home-grown, locally made tasty feed delivered to you daily.

loading 2

It’s a good life.

Since our cows think they are dogs, loading them hasn’t been a problem.

We have a dear friend who has loaded dozens of cattle in his life.  He came out to our place to help us load our first steer (just under 800 lbs) a while back.  He came ready for war.  In his arsenal were:  boards, ropes, and random strong objects used for forcing reluctant cattle into trailers.

Apparently he had never loaded a pet before.

loading 4

Crumple had snuck his last meal literally seconds before we began the process of getting him into the trailer.

loading 16


Here’s how we do it in 5 easy steps.

loading 6

STEP #1:  

Get a bucket of feed & lead the steer into a confined area.  We used a run-in.  The kids held a cattle- panel in front of the run-in so the steer would stay put.

loading 7


Back the trailer up to the run-in.

loading 9


Open the doors and take a bucket of feed as far into the trailer as you can get so the cow has to get all the way in it for his snack.

loading 8


Watch the cow walk into the trailer.

loading 10


Close the doors behind the cow.

loading 11

Our friends who came over to help us “force” our steer onto the trailer just stood there in amazement.  Before they left he said, “I’ve loaded a lot of cattle, but I’ve never in my life seen that.”

Good-bye Crumple!


If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe via email (here) or “like” the blog on Facebook (here) or even sign up to follow the blog on Twitter (here) to get old fashioned advice, farm tips and homesteading fun delivered straight to you.

Your Turn

%d bloggers like this: