During the Civil War, Texas was marked by an overstock of cattle due to lack of market access to the rest of the US, which was eventually solved by blazing the Chisholm Trail. In the years following the Civil War, this grueling route was made famous by ranchers in the beef industry, as it stretched over 1000 miles between the Texas plains and northern Kansas and took about three months to traverse.
Today, US Highway 81 roughly follows the Chisholm Trail through Oklahoma including the town of Duncan, where the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center now provides interactive and educational exhibits depicting scenes along the historic route. Traveling by highway, you can now move your cattle in hours versus months, for any reason, including stock shows.
And thanks to the advent and evolution of automobiles and livestock trailers, you can also now do it without sacrificing comfort - neither yours nor the animals’!
Questions to consider before purchase
There are a couple of things to think about before you purchase a cattle trailer, and you won’t want to skip this part, because it can help you make the best decision to meet your needs.
If you are planning to just take a couple of animals a short distance, you may be tempted to try a small bumper pull trailer, but as you gain experience, you’ll learn that the stress this puts on the animals is ultimately not worth it. More than likely, you’ll need to invest in a gooseneck trailer. Gooseneck trailers provide improved stability for your pull vehicle and reduce stress on your prized cattle, as they offer a much smoother ride.
How many animals do you expect to haul?
Knowing how much you expect to carry can inform the size of the gooseneck trailer you choose. Trailers vary pretty significantly in size and cost, so it’s important to consider your specific use case. Are you taking your first hobby calf out for show? Then you may not need the 10-pen, galvanized steel trailer outfitted with full living quarters just yet. Though we aren’t likely to talk you out of it if you’re insistent on the sales floor, of course ;).
How far are you traveling?
As we mentioned, if you’re hauling your first hobby calf across your own town from time to time, then you may not need to invest in the largest available trailer. However, as you become more serious and experienced in showing more of your stock, you may find that you need to haul more cattle further, perhaps something more akin to the 1000-mile Chisholm Trail.
Distance becomes especially important to consider if you’re moving through time zones or climates, as this might change your insulation, living quarters, and other needs. If you live in upper Wyoming and need to make it to Texas for shows, for example, you may find that you want a trailer that is durable and comfortable for frequent long trips.
What material is right for your trailer?
Livestock trailers are constructed in a couple of different materials that may impact their cost, weight, and resilience to wear and tear. The most common materials include:
- Aluminum, which is lightweight, rust-resistant, and relatively affordable but may show wear more quickly
- Steel, which is durable and affordable but prone to rust and quite heavy
- Galvanized steel, which is rust-resistant while maintaining the durability of steel, but is often quite expensive
- Composite materials, which aim to strike the balance between durability and affordability
You may find that you like the way one of the materials looks or feels more than others, or you may find yourself drawn to a particular make that uses a proprietary composite material.
If you live in a relatively dry climate, like the Mountain West or north/west Texas, Oklahoma, or Kansas, steel may be more practical than if you frequent or live in humid regions like the East Coast or the Pacific Northwest.
Do you need living quarters?
These days, livestock trailers can be outfitted with just about anything, including full living quarters. This can vary from a small area for a mattress and some storage space to a full living, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchenette.
Adding living quarters certainly increases the price tag on your trailer, but you may find that you quickly recoup that cost by saving on hotel fees, eating out at restaurants, providing security for your livestock, and other incidentals that pop up when you’re on the road.
Ready to invest in your own trailer to show cattle?
Regardless of where you are in your show cattle career, you’ll need something to carry them! At any Transwest location, our friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to help you find exactly what you need. You can also check out our online inventory to get your show on the road.