Beef Cattle Transportation: Livestock Safety Cushion

Table of Contents

  1. When Does Bruising Occur?
  2. Livestock Safety Cushion (LSC)
  3. Cushion Installation
  4. Where Does Bruising Occur?
  5. Rating of Bruise Severity
  6. BIO's Findings
  7. Effect of LSC on Bruise Location and Severity
  8. References
  9. Credits

Livestock safety cushion placement, front view of livestock tractor trailer Livestock safety cushion placement, rear view of livestock tractor trailer

Figure 1. Placement of the Livestock Safety Cushions.

When Does Bruising Occur?

Bruising may happen at any point during production and marketing. Moving animals means they can impact on each other or some immovable object in their environment.

Dr. Temple Grandin, Animal Scientist, Colorado State University, found the MAJOR CAUSES OF BRUISING during transportation were:

  • rough handling
  • jostling in trucks
  • catching hips on truck doors and gates

Since cattle like to move from darkness to light, they may rush out of the trailer, impacting on corners and edges as they go. During unloading, as opposed to loading cattle, there is more potential for cattle to be injured (3). Most cattle bump against structures at least once during unloading (4) and are likely to hit their hips and shoulders (5). Messer recommended that gates in loading and unloading areas be padded (3).

Livestock Safety Cushion (LSC)

Livestock safety cushions before installation
Figure 3. Livestock Safety Cushions before installation.

When cattle impact against the cushion, the scroll shaped coils compress to absorb impact. The cushion rebounds after impact to the original shape. LSC always presents a rounded surface to animals even during impact.

Cushion Installation

The inside of the trailer was checked for all possible points of impact, any places showing rubbing or wear by animal contact.

13 different points of impact were found.

LSC was installed on all of these points of impact.

Picture of a livestock safety cushion installed beside a door in a livestock tractor trailer

Figure 4. A LSC installed beside a door.

Where Does Bruising Occur?

BIO's study before installation of LSC in the trailers (baseline study) established the level of bruising found on fed cattle delivered to the packer.

Baseline bruising amounts as found by BIO's study Bruising on a carcass

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Figure 5. Baseline bruising amounts, as found by BIO's study; Bruising on a carcass.

Rating Of Bruise Severity

Pie chart of the rating of bruising severity in the baseline study

Minor - weighing less than 1 pound
Major - weighing 1 to 3 pounds
Critical - weighing over 3 pounds

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Figure 6. Rating of Bruising Severity in the baseline study.

Location of Critical Bruising
Graphic showing the location of critical bruising by percent for portions of the carcass

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Figure 7. Location of critical bruising by percent.

Frequency of Bruising

Line graph of the frequency of bruising per animal

Number of bruises per animal

Four or more

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Figure 8. Frequency of bruising per animal.

BIO's Findings

BIO's findings

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    % Total Bruising and % Animals Bruised

were significantly lower in cattle transported in trailers padded with Livestock Safety Cushion compared with unpadded trailers.

BIO's findings

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Effect of LSC on Bruise Location And Severity

Graphic showing the effect of livestock safety cushions on bruise location and severity

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Authors of the study concluded if overall bruising were reduced by 10% by use of padded trailers, the Canadian Beef Industry would save over $1 million per year. Reduction of 1.82% of bruising in the loin, the most valuable area, would reduce trim by 48 tons of loin per year (5).


  1. Canadian Cattlemen's Association. 1996. Executive Summary: Canadian Beef Quality Audit.
  2. Grandin, T. 1981. Bruises on SouthWestern Feedlot Cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 53., Suppl 1 p.213 (abstr).
  3. Messer. C. 1994. The effect of preslaughter handling on injury and dehydration in cattle. Humane Slaughter Association.
  4. Blackshaw, J.K., Blackshaw, A.J., and Kusano, T. 1987. Cattle behaviour in a saleyard and its potential to cause bruising. Aust. J. Exp. Agric. 27:753-757.
  5. Anderson, B. 1973. Study on cattle bruising. Qd. Agric. J. 99:234-240.
  6. Armstrong, S. L., Robinson, J.A. B. and Hayes, W. R. 1998. Tracking and Reducing Cattle and Carcass Bruising Through the Use of Management Improvement Tools - Final Report. Beef Improvement Ontario, 6986 Wellington Road 124 South, R.R. 7, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 6J4.


This information is based on the research done by Beef Improvement Ontario, 'Tracking and Reducing Cattle and Carcass Bruising Through the Use of Management Improvement Tools - Final Report' and the PowerPoint presentation of their results.

Our thanks to:
Lloyd Hutton Transport Limited, Paisley, Ontario.
Wilson Trailer Company, Sioux City, Iowa.
Tom Hahn licensee of the Livestock Safety Cushion.
The distributors of Livestock Safety Cushion are:
Bio-Ag Consultants and Distributors Inc. 1-800-363-5278

This information is provided as a public service; however OMAFRA does not endorse or recommend any specific product or service.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: Craig Richardson - Animal Care Specialist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: August 2001
Last Reviewed: August 2001