Feed Lot Magazine- March/Arpil 2002
Go-Home Truck Saves Time, Money, Stress on Cattle
By Jill J. Dunkel
Recovering from pneumonia just got a little easier - at least you would think so if you were escorted home from the hospital in Am Agra's Animal Ambulance.
The Animal Ambulance is Sandie Bonsall's answer to a "go home unit." He knows the stress go-home cattle endure, not to mention the man hours involved. "I just sat down and went to drawing out ideas," he says. Three years and many revisions later, he debuted his invention at Garden City Feedyard in Garden City, Kansas
"This is the slickest thing I've ever seen," says Larry Bilberry, general manager at Garden City Feedyard. "Quite frankly, it is doing everything I dreamed it would do. We're saving time and energy using this unit to take cattle home."
Bonsall took the principles developed by Dr. Temple Grandin to ensure cattle flow easily in and out of the trailer. The non-slip rubber flooring reduces noise and extends the life of the floor.
Five compartments eliminate the need for any sorting after cattle leave the hospital. The Animal Ambulance can take 15 animals at a time. The box is 25 feet long and about 9 feet wide. Hydraulic gates allow cattle to move through the compartments or down the ramp to their home pen. At no time does a human have to come in contact with livestock.
"Everyone's goal is to return cattle as soon as possible to their home pen," says Chris McCarley, animal health supervisor at Winter Feed Yard in Dodge City, Kans. "Most yards return twice per week. The rest of the time cattle stand in recovery with strangers, plus they are not consuming the correct ration. We know the loss in gain and performance are astronomical, but until now we couldn't do anything about it."
Since purchasing the Animal Ambulance, one individual takes recovering cattle home each afternoon. Previously, the cowboys tried to take go-homes twice a week. "I can't believe how efficient this product has made us," says Ken Winter.
Bonsall believes the unit provides the most benefit to feedyards with 20,000 head and up. "The bigger the yard, the more efficient the unit is. They simply have the numbers to keep the unit busy, as well as longer distances from the hospital to some of the pens."
"Feedyards want to take cattle home in a timely manner, but they just can't get to it sometimes. On hot days, you have to ride pens early, and after you doctor, it's just too hot to drive recovering cattle home," Bonsall says. "Now you can do this in the heat of the day."
Mark Boos, feedyard manager at Garden City Feedyard, believes the unit could lower worker's compensation claims. "There are many worker's compensation concerns in the feedyard industry," he says. "In the last five years, all of our claims have come from the animal health department. With this unit, the operator never comes in contact with the cattle. There is no risk to the individual running the truck."
For more information, you can visit Am Agra Inc's web site at www.amagra.com. ©