Re: Photo: Watermelons In Livestock Car (Undated)
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Remember that livestock slaughter took place year-round, some plants running several shifts. Slaughter houses also like to keep1-3 days of livestock on hand to keep cutting lines going even if supply was disrupted by weather, holidays, or other anomalies. Livestock shipments were/are an everyday occurrence to keep those slaughter houses working. And buyers from the slaughter houses went far afield seeking suitable animals, resulting in animals being shipped daily, sometimes over long distances. It is also important to note that trucks were not restricted to the 28 hr law like railroads, until the 1990s, well after the railroads were completely out of the livestock shipping business.
But Ray is correct, some livestock shipments were seasonal. Think sheep being moved from high mountain meadows to lowlands in the fall, and back up to the high lands in the spring. Feeder calves were moved from western grasslands to midwestern feedlots and local farmers for feeding on corn each spring. Then once "fattened" these same calves moved to slaughter in the fall/winter.
Pigs are a little different. One point, most are raised within 100 miles of where they will be slaughtered, so hog shipments quickly moved by truck, even in the 30s. Most pig farmers plan their breeding plans and their feeder pig purchases to have a load ready to sell about every two weeks.