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Travels of a Trucker Chicken Haulin Lifestyle

August 11, 2013

So in the last few months I admit it. I ain’t been nothin but Chicken. Chicken in the night, Chicken in the morning, Chicken for Dinnertime. Lol, Well literally it has been Chicken. I am a Chicken hauler. I typically would not have called myself that but one day about 1 month ago I was at a farm and the Kal-Tire guy called my trailer “a Chicken Hauler”. Would I have called myself that? Probably not. I prefer to think of myself on the much more global grandiose scale as a “livestock hauler”.

But there you have it. I am admittedly a Chicken Hauler. But not just any Chicken Hauler, I am also a professional driver first. Chicken Hauling is just what I happen to haul.  There is a common misconception about Chicken Hauling that may need to be cleared up and I hope to set the record straight. When it comes to Chicken Hauling, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…pun intended.

You see being a Chicken Hauler may be a local job, but the hours are long. My typical shift runs from anywhere from 10-14 hours. I am in and out of the truck all night unhooking the trailer and dropping it on a scale. Re-hooking it up and dropping it in a bay for unloading and then the process repeats itself as I scale a new empty trailer out for the next farm. I repeat this same process up to 9 times a night if I haul 3 loads. Then there is the uncinching of the belts holding the cages onto the deck and re-cinching the cages back onto the deck when it is loaded. Sounds easy until you realize that handling a heavy bar a multitude of times is leading to a tendinitis of the elbow.

Then there is the many farms that need servicing. With a schedule made the week before, and certain times that I have to be at the farm, it is my responsibility to be at the farm for my specified loading time. While at the farm there is another adjustment I must make. I must work in conjunction with the forklift operator to ensure I am set up in the right place properly so he can grab the liners. With each farm we deal with there is a different layout of how we are to set up. Some farms we are required to back into off a road. Other farms we drive into and then back around barns/sheds. Other farms we can drive around thee whole barn. To top this off there is the constant never ending darkness we must fight off since Chicken catching is done primarily at night we have to overcome any obstacles in the dark.

Once we have fought off the darkness, our proper placement, we have other obstacles to overcome. Driveways may be narrow and have ditches on both sides, there may be tight yards to manouever in,  there could be soggy wet ground which has turned to mud with which we have to deal with. Any host of problems could present itself such as truck breakdown, forklift breakdown, small chicken catching crew which extends our already long hours.

Yes being a chicken hauler is definitely not as easy as it may have once sounded. I’m really sorry to dispel any romantic notion or idea about it. One of the pet perks about this job is having to avoid projectile shooting Chickens. These are the chickens who turn their ass to you and like some gun game at the carnival where the target moves, the Chickens try to shoot their crap on you. Many a time I have narrowly avoided having a mess hit me.

But there is a softer side to me which most people don’t see. The runts who have been left behind as being too small are in a no mans land. They are too small for processing. What this means is that they are left behind for the clean up crew to deal with. It is very saddening to see one small runt in a barn which just a few hours ago had 40,000 chickens in it and now it is the only Chicken left to wander around aimlessly. It’s fate bleak on both ends. You see at the processing plant, we all know the fate they would endure. However, at the barn, cold, hungry, no water and now lonely, they are left to their own devices until the clean crew arrives to sanitize and disinfect the barn for the next batch of Chickens. Sadly there is no room for runts as they cannot be mixed with the new batch for bio-security reasons. Thus they will be exterminated by the cleaning crew. I have aided, abetted and assisted many a runt in escaping this fate. Some of them just don’t survive the transition from being in a barn to being my free range bird. I have buried many a Chicken in my backyard already. But many others have successfully transgressed the barrier from Runt to Adult when there is no competition.

There is a short YouTube video I posted of my runt Chickens some of which have grown so big. My plan of course was not to eat them. They are more of a wholistically do good, feel good, experiment rather than food. I carry with me enough death to the Poultry processor that for the few I provide a little shelter, food and water and let them live is by far one of the most gracious acts I could do in this industry.

My only wish is that I would hope some company would read this and provide me with a real coop to house my Chickens in. I do have a shed but it was not designed as a coop. It is drywalled, insulated and has electricity but there is no air at night when I have to lock the Chickens up from predators like the Racoons that frequent our yard. It was my den, but sadly it would need a huge cleaning before that happened again.

So now you understand that Chicken Hauling is not all it is cracked up to be. Thanks for reading.





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