Introduction

Companies involved

Be aware that some companies mentioned in the “Tractors, combines and balers”, “Trucks and heavy machinery” and “Implements” chapters also supply trailers.

Key points for livestock farmers

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)

It is common practice amongst farmers to compare trailers prices by looking at size and GVM, and then buying the cheapest one. The GVM is not a reflection of the trailer’s carrying capacity. The weight of the trailer should be subtracted from the GVM to arrive at its carrying capacity. Should you buy a 2,6T trailer, it is illegal for it to carry a 2,6T load.

EXAMPLE: A trailer is equipped with so-called 3T axle. It is registered for 2000kg. Its weight is 680kg. Its legal carrying capacity is 1320 kg.

Technology and quality

Consequently, the technology and workmanship which goes along with building a trailer becomes crucial. Flexible undercarriages last longer and absorb shock and vibration. Independent sprung suspension is more lasting than conventional suspension [leaf-spring suspensions]. This suspension gives more stability to the trailer and fewer vibrations which make livestock restless (horses, in particular, become restless if the underframe vibrates beneath them, but this applies to cattle and sheep too).

Value and resale value

The “extras” like removable livestock railings add to the value of the trailer and, together with the previously mentioned points, contribute to the trailer’s second-hand value. Some manufacturers produce combination trailers, suitable for cattle, sheep or horses. The premise that a trailer is without value once it is “finished” only applies to that trailer which was originally cheaper (and metallurgically incorrect) built. A few fractures, a coating of paint and new tyres will do the trick if it was right when bought. “Cheaper” can be expensive.

SABS

All trailers are required to be SABS sanctioned. Legal requirements are for the purpose of road safety: reflector lights, basic dimensions etc. This is not a statement on the strength of livestock railings or indeed of the soundness of the trailer’s structure.

 

Safety

The majority of trailers is registered to a maximum of 2400kg (GVM) i.e. the mass of the trailer itself combined with the weight of the load should not exceed this figure. For good reason: the maximum braking ability of the brake component only goes up to this figure.

In this country, there are very few manufacturers are registered for 2400kg – 3500kg bracket. Their components meet the standards and these are largely imported.

GCM / BKM (Gross combination mass / Bruto kombinasie massa)

The gross combination mass is that of the bakkie, the trailer, the bakkie load and the trailer load. This figure appears on the bakkie or vehicle towing the trailer.

EXAMPLE: 4500 kg (Bakkie BKM) – 1600kg (Bakkie mass) = 2900kg. This represents the load on the bakkie, the load on the trailer and the trailer’s mass.

2900kg – 600kg (trailer’s mass) = 2300kg. Divided this could be 1 ton on the bakkie and 1300kg on the trailer.

The weight classification varies from vehicle to vehicle.

Weight implication

The average cow weighs 500kg, and requires space of 1800mm x 900mm. Thus, a cattle trailer [beeswa] will typically be 3600mm x 1600mm high. Be careful of trailers of 1.7m height: this is too low.

4 x 500kg = 2000kg + trailer’s weight of 600kg = 2600kg is necessary reading. This means the average bakkie may not pull this trailer (with four cattle on board).

The average cattle trailer is registered for 1800kg, weighs approximately 600kg, which gives you an carrying capacity of 1200kg i.e. only two animals of 500kg. It does not matter how long or wide the trailer is: it is about weight.

NB Some manufacturers do not include the extras when giving the figures, and you may find that the weight of the spare wheel, railings, rubber mats etc is not included.

NOTE: There is a difference between a cattle cart or sheep cart – and a trailer that can transport cattle and sheep. The former have rubber mats (to prevent slipping), a gate combination at the rear in the middle – because animals moving to the rear cause pressure which lifts the bakkie up.

Home-made

Complying with the law becomes very difficult, if not impossible, particularly for a trailer with a GVM of more than 750kg.

Remember: trailers are “vehicles” that must be roadworthy and loaded according to specifications. If an accident were to occur, even were the trailer not the cause, there would be potential problems with insurance and third-party claims. When it comes to the trailer, its load and the vehicle pulling it, stay within the bounds of the law and road regulations. It is not worth a life or a third-party court case.

Source: NIC Trailers (contact details under heading 1)

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