Livestock Trailers: How to Choose

Find the right livestock trailers for all your pulling needs.

  • One of the first things to determine is whether your needs require a gooseneck attachment system or the slightly less capable tagalong design. Both types have their strengths.
    Photo courtesy Featherlite Trailers
  • Loading cattle can be a chore, and a nice trailer with dividers and a side door, or escape door, make it easier and safer.
    Photo courtesy Elite Trailers
  • Horse trailers have more height to them, and this makes it a far more comfortable ride for equines.
    Photo by
  • A gooseneck design allows for significantly more storage space. It is vital to check the tow ratings of your vehicle to make sure that you’ll be able to safely trailer your load. Weight is the most important consideration of all.
    Photo courtesy Featherlite Trailers

I remember the first trailer we bought for transporting our farm animals. We scouted out the classifieds and found what sounded like a very good deal. After finishing the chores and getting gussied up for another farm venture (aka a date), we made the two-hour trek to the trailer owner’s place. When we arrived, our first reaction was hesitation, as we had “never seen a trailer like this one.” Truth be told, we really had not seen many trailers at all.

This was an old metal stock trailer. It did have the promised four stalls, but they were very narrow. The stalls were situated so that you loaded two animals side by side with a metal bar separating the two, and then shut the doors behind each “stall.” Behind those two brave soldiers, you loaded two more side by side, and look out because the back two could easily back right off before you got the door closed — there were no butt bars that went across the stall.

Having driven so far — and since the trailer was so affordable — we handed over our cash. Horses, by nature, are claustrophobic, so loading Spirit, my Arabian/Thoroughbred, was almost an impossible task. I remember many times my husband would patiently work for more than two hours to convince Spirit to load up. Sometimes, when we unloaded, Spirit would throw his head up in a panic to exit and hit his head — the old trailers were shorter than today’s models.

That brings up the second problem with this trailer, as well as most old horse trailers: The very old trailers were not only made narrower, but shorter as well. Not as much of an issue for cows, sheep and ponies, but for horses, it can be a problem.

We ended up keeping that trailer for several years. Eventually, we figured out that when we took out all the dividers and gates, we could tie the horses on a slant and they loaded comparatively like a dream in the open box stall. This worked for our horses that knew one another, but not always for horses that were not pasture mates. It also worked quite well for our smaller animals.

The sequel to this story is that we finally sold that trailer and upgraded to an almost new one. Wanting to be sure that Spirit did not ever again hit his head, we found an extra tall stock trailer.

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