Territory Stories

Water Buffalo Handling: Property to Abattoir Part 3. Transportation to the abattoir



Water Buffalo Handling: Property to Abattoir Part 3. Transportation to the abattoir

Other title



Lemcke, B.

Issued by

Northern Territory. Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines


Serial No. 613; Agdex No. 487/20; Water Buffalo Handling; Agnote; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Agnote




This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).




Agriculture; Weeds; Biological control; Animals; Farm animals; Periodicals

Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

Place of publication





No: J65, December 2006

File type





Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

Northern Territory Government Page 3 of 5 group. Observations at the abattoir kill floor of bruise locations on carcases of your buffalo and their ages will enable you to identify where and how your animals are bruised. Hips and pin bones are the usual bruising locations. Observe stock being worked in the yards and trucks and you will soon recognise the trouble spots: protruding posts, gate hinges, sharp corners, poor handling (excessive use of prodders, etc), or particular animals that are nervous and cause problems by barging, mounting the animal in front whilst in the race, rushing out of scales or crush and hitting a post when turning sharply. Trucking Buffalo appear to baulk at loading if they see an open space or gap between the truck and loading race. This space should be well bridged. Anti-backing gates in the loading race will be of immense value. A piece of steel pipe 40 or 50 mm in diameter used at the vertical posts as an anti-backing rail can help when loading a truck from a loading ramp. Such pipes need to be placed at the right height: if too high, animals will push them upwards and pass underneath; if too low, animals will pass over the top. The ideal height is about 2030 cm below the rectum. The pipes need to be used only behind the last animal; otherwise, the animals following will attempt to jump over the pipes. A slide gate right at the end of the loading race next to the truck can save much loading time when stock are not quiet during handling. Animals wanting to leave the truck to go back down the ramp in the face of oncoming stock can be contained with a sliding gate at the top of the ramp. This type of situation can cause bad bruising and increased stress if the sliding gate is not available. All ramps should have a level area of at least one animal length before stepping onto the truck. Walking in the opposite direction to the required flow of animals along the line in the race is the best way to keep animals on the move. To get back to the top of the ramp to start again, you need to walk well away from the race in a wide arc when you move in the same direction of flow of buffalo. Also take time to explain to the truck driver that he will not need his electric prodder to load and unload your quiet buffalo. It is best to open the truck gate and let the buffalo find their own way out at their own time with no pressure to immediately unload. The more people you have around the truck, the greater is the likelihood of a poor flow of animals out of the truck because of confusion in the animals as to where they should go. Such a situation is exacerbated if everyone is brandishing an electric prodder. This is the worst possible scenario, but happens all too often. The initial start to unloading is to move the animals so that one is facing the exit gateway. Such an animal can usually be moved easiest by approaching it from a 45 angle to the front and walking towards it and past it in the opposite direction to which it needs to travel. Once the first one steps through, the others will usually follow happily behind it. Poking at the rear of the animal is usually the least effective method to get it to step off the truck. It pays to be aware of buffalos lesser tolerance of heat and its lower ability to sweat compared with cattle. With that in mind, your first preference should be to start loading during the coolest part of the day. Preorganise shade, water and sprinklers, if arriving in the heat of the day. And finally load stock quietly without using prodders or dogs. Loading densities Loading of trucks and trailers is an important issue. Overloading can cause problems with buffalo going down, being trampled and injured, and unable to rise. Underloading can also cause problems of uneven weight distribution during the trip. Also excessive stock movement without mutual support may cause increased stress and possibly bruising. You will need to allow extra room for stock with large horns. The AMLC publish recommended loading spaces for stock of different live-weights, that is, the number of stock per deck. Table 1 (taken from the CALM Assessor Manual) is printed to give a guide for loading of buffalo.