“Livestock feed puts a strain on a truck.”
The pickup trucks used to feed livestock a few square bales of hay each day have long since gone by the wayside. Powerful flatbed trucks with additional equipment for hauling and unrolling large round hay bales are common on most ranches these days.
Naturally, trucks need to be four-wheel drive to get through mud and snow with two loaded bales. Stress is heavy on all parts of a truck, from the engine to the frame, springs and axles when hauling tons of hay. Adverse weather conditions increase rust, vibrations, on every part of the mechanical devices.
Large, heavy-tread rubber tires are required to handle the weight of the hay. However, no matter how slow and careful the truck is driven on rocky country roads, the tires often go flat. It’s a big ordeal to change tires, and sometimes more of an effort to fix one. Not many ranchers fix their flat tires, although many have tried and found it too much work.
As bad as having a flat tire is the high likelihood of ruining the tire when you run out of air. Like everything, truck tire replacement is expensive.
Trucks aren’t the only implement used to feed livestock hay, but apparently more ranchers use them than tractors. Tractors are called upon to perform feeder duties when a truck fails or gets stuck and needs to be pulled out. Most tractors still don’t have an unroller, so the bales are unloaded onto the field with a lot of hay being wasted when the cattle eat.
Regardless of how well built they are and the amount of careful care given to feed trucks, they wear out too soon. No matter how many times a supply truck is repaired, there comes a point where it can’t be repaired anymore.
A replacement of some sort is essential, but is becoming a nearly impossible task. While the price is incomprehensibly high and must be paid regardless, locating the truck is even more difficult.
Modern technology makes it possible to search across the nation by pressing computer keys. Not a single new or used truck of any type with sufficient cattle feed capabilities has been located.
Optimism prevails when one remembers 1 Samuel 13:1: “God is looking for your replacement.”
Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong Alta Vista rancher, lifelong newspaper writer, national syndicated writer, and marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.