By Chris McCullough

When Northern Ireland dairy farmer James McKeown wanted to purchase a cattle body to fit onto his own beavertail tractor-drawn trailer, he was shocked at the price.

Instead, being a skilled engineer, James immediately drew up plans to construct his own livestock body to fit onto his beavertail trailer that he already uses to transport an excavator and to haul bales of silage.

The end result is a removable 28ft (8.5m) long and 8ft (2.44m)-wide livestock body that fits onto the beavertail trailer, and is pivoted to kneel down at the rear to make it easier for livestock to enter and exit.

Livestock body on trailer

James milks around 120 cows at Carnview Farms outside Ballymena in Co. Antrim, and also runs a high-end clay target shooting facility on the farm.

James said: “I already had the beavertail trailer using it for haulage but thought it would be real handy if I could buy a livestock body to fit the trailer so I could use it also to transport cattle.

“When I looked at the prices given to me by manufacturers I had quite a shock, therefore decided to make one myself.”

James started manufacturing the trailer body at the end of 2023 and completed the project in early 2024.

The rear of the trailer lowers down for easy loading of cattle

He has produced quite a unique livestock body that not only adds value to his existing trailer, but also increases the welfare aspects of transporting cattle.

“The body is 28ft long and is divided up into compartments by gates for easier loading,” he explained.

“I simply lower the beavertail of the trailer and then the rear door of the livestock body opens up further at a reduced angle to allow cattle to load easier and quieter.”

Gates are fitted inside the unit to separate cattle

In fact, when the beavertail is lowered, and the rear door is open, the angle of entry for the cattle is under 20°, putting less stress on the animals entering and exiting.

“The rear door is operated hydraulically for safer operation, as is the lowering and raising of the beavertail,” James continued.

When lowered the trailer angle for loading is less than 20°

There is a section of the body that slides along when the beavertail is being lowered to cover the space left.

“It’s a really strong piece of equipment with a number of extra features such as a LED light bar, rear mud flap and rollers on the rear door to finish it off,” he added.

Other features on the trailer include a slurry trap, and strong magnets that fix the gates open to the side of the body.

Removing the new addition

Both the beavertail and the unit’s rear door can be operated hydraulically

When the livestock body needs to be removed, the operation is straightforward as four jack legs can be wound down, the 10 pins are then removed and the body can be jacked up, all in 15 to 20 minutes.

James has registered and patented the design of the livestock body and says it will be commercially available for other farmers to buy if they want it.

“As far as I know, this is the only such livestock body of its kind that fits onto a beavertail trailer,” James said.

“I like to make things and this easy-loading livestock body has turned out quite well.

“There are other low-loader type trailers around that can be fitted with livestock bodies but these are often too low to take into fields. My trailer is fitted with 445/45 R19.5 tyres which are agri tyres suitable for field use.

“I have been in contact with some local engineers who have expressed an interest in building the bodies for me to market,” he added.