Design of trucks for long distance transportation of cattle in Kenya and its effects on cattle deaths.
Wambui, J. M
Lamuka, P. O
Karuri, E. G
Matofari, J. W
Abey, K. A.
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In Kenya, the distance between the livestock production areas and terminal markets is vast, making livestock movement a necessity. The condition of vehicles transporting livestock is, therefore, an important factor for animal welfare and meat quality. These two parameters are particularly compromised over long durations of transportation. Consequently, economic losses along the livestock value chain may result. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to describe the design of trucks currently used to transport cattle in Kenya and quantify losses during trucking. A cross-sectional survey was carried out in six purposively sampled livestock markets; Moyale, Marsabit, Isiolo, Maralal, Narok and Kajiado. The markets are located along some of the major livestock routes in the pastoral areas. Direct interviews with truck drivers (N=75) and observations were made. Five key design features were assessed; floor design, ventilation system (air vents and roofs), specialized compartments and interior walls. Modified floor was frequent in 95.76% of the trucks. About 80.00% of the trucks had smooth interior walls while 77.12% and 94.26% of the trucks had side vents along the chassis and open roofs, respectively. None of the trucks was divided into compartments. The Kruskal Wallis Ranking score showed that presence of vents, floor design and smooth finish of the interior wall were the design features which significantly differed (P<0.05) with livestock market. A cattle mortality rate of 6.16% was reported. However, none of the design features significantly caused the deaths. The major cause was injuries from other animals due to poor animal handling. It was concluded that there are no dedicated trucks for long distance transportation of cattle. Instead, features that are either temporary or not recommended are used to transform locally available trucks into livestock hauliers. Improvement of animal welfare and reduction of economic losses along Kenya’s livestock transport routes will be achieved through policies that address training needs of truck drivers and development of a standard design for trucks for livestock transport.
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