The Alberta Farm Animal Care’s livestock emergency response trailers are saving lives.
First responders in Westlock County used a trailer when a truck transporting 52 beef cattle rolled in the area. The responders, who had never attended a livestock accident before, managed to save all but five of the cattle, thanks to the trailer and their livestock emergency training.
“Every county and municipality in the province wants one,” Floyd Mullaney, a contractor hired by AFAC to help develop the trailer program, said at the organization’s recent Livestock Care Conference.
“There are 40,000 livestock on the roads a day in the province. Are accidents going to happen? Absolutely! They’re going to happen. And what are you going to do when you’re sitting there and you’ve got a trailer sitting on its side and cattle underneath and some of them are suffocating? What are you going to do? It’s an issue.”
Each trailer contains ropes, ladders, panels and other tools for moving hogs, cattle, poultry and horses. Each stocked trailer costs about $25,000.
Years ago, fieldman Art Preachuk created an emergency response livestock trailer for Red Deer County. Ponoka County followed suit. In 2012, the Alberta Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Steering Committee was inspired to build its own livestock response trailers.
The Equine Foundation of Canada financed trailers in New Sarepta and Brooks, while Rural Crime Watch funded a trailer in the Hanna area. Coronation and Rocky Mountain House financed their own trailers.
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The trailers have been been placed with fire departments, and first responders who use them have received training at Lakeland College.
“In the fire department, you buy a ladder truck for half a million dollars with the hope that you’ll never ever have to use it — but the day you need it, you better have it there,” said Mullaney. “Same thing with these trailers. You order these trailers, you put them together, you get them into place, and then you hope to God you never have to use them.”
The trailers have already been used in traffic accidents, rollovers and other situations.
“From November 2012 to November 2013, the Alberta SPCA used its trailer for over 550 animals that it seized,” he said.
Trailers were also used during barn collapses in central Alberta this winter.
“Those barn collapses were on the farm where there are supposed to be all these panels,” said Mullaney. “Come to my farm. Sure, I’ll get you panels, just as soon as I get the tractor and go dig them out of the snow. That might take two or three hours. Firemen, using these trailers, can back up, hook on and go. Everything is inside that trailer.”
The province needs at least 10 more, he said.
“Westlock is the farthest north and we’ve got nothing in Grande Prairie or Peace River. We’ve got some holes to fill and we’re attempting, through different funding programs, to make that happen and see where it will all shake out.”