Livestock transportation can add a wrinkle to supply chains, but all industries are facing the need to modernize, stay current and integrate data into their operations. A few recent stories about the cattle farming industry show one particular type of business dealing with potentially volatile changes.

When shipping cattle, companies need to be aware of the animals' condition, as well as attention from regulators and the trajectory of revenue.
Before we look at the supply and logistics side specifically, we can observe the way online auctions and future trades are used to propel the industry. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about the way online cattle auctions have boosted the share of cattle sales by 5 percent between November 2015 and 2016. Online exchanges could be a useful tool for keeping auctions live, even if it goes against the standard way some operators proceed, the source said.

Regardless, it's one sign of the cattle industry looking to real-time solutions, much like other sectors. And just as with any form of goods shipping, there are data points which could influence major changes.

Certification and specification

Information on possible cattle measures recently appeared in The Professional Animal Scientist. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, who headed a recent study on animal transportation certification for meeting best practices, discussed some of these issues.
One takeaway is the way many different factors in transportation need to connect for smarter, informed delivery. This includes the condition of the trailer as well as the animal's well-being, the driver's level of education and other elements. Building off of these observations, it's not hard to see the opportunity for data monitoring on some of these particular points.

"Every stakeholder has an expectation for fostering animal well-being," Schwartzkopf-Genswein said. "Producers, consignors, packers and retailers alike want to improve animal treatment during transportation."

Later in the same piece, she also added that "a driver's cattle transporting experience is significant in the success of cattle transportation, which makes training and education important." This again adds to the idea that different sections within the business are connected.

Getting smarter about cattle supply

With different regulations governing what can and can't be done in transport, overseers have a lot of different pain points to pay attention to. The Canadian Cattlemen magazine also looked into this topic, describing the results of audits from the Canadian Feedlot Animal Care Assessment Program and their impact on suppliers. The source mentioned both the condition of the transporter and the cattle itself as important indicators that auditors will focus on.

Both of these areas could require companies to look carefully at their infrastructure. For example, if the problem lies with the transporter, businesses may have to correct the amount of space available. Issues with the cattle, on the other hand, can also affect efficiency, since a cow with injuries or health problems could slow down the rate of transport, as well as violating standards.

To hit important benchmarks and fulfill standards, global sourcing can be a vital resource. All industries may have their own concerns, but strategic planning can be a benefit to all.
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