Successfully moving livestock onto vessels for ocean transport involves coordination of many processes and stakeholders. Export shipments of cattle from Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma moving through the Port of Galveston, Texas, to Russia in 2011 proved very productive. In fact, a national record for live cattle in one port shipment was set on one of those 2011 shipments last September under the expert handling of Suderman Contracting Stevedores, Inc., the newest member of the Nautilus family of companies. The MV Ocean Drover, Suderman’s second vessel load out, handled a total of 5,584 Holstein and Angus heifers, plus approximately 300 pregnant heifers.
Live cargo requires careful handling and special attention to detail. A team of USDA veterinarians monitored the cattle throughout all phases of the operation. Multiple holding pens were constructed in the warehouse for resting, feeding, and watering the cattle before loading to the vessel. Suderman’s superintendents and wranglers displayed great skill in safely and humanely moving this precious cargo through the warehouse and terminal alleys, where the vessel’s crew took over moving the cattle to their final place of rest in the pens of a large, purpose-built livestock carrier.
Several new terminal, vessel and ground transport improvements are being planned for the continued success of the export process. These include facility pens that enhance the livestock de-stressing and resting process, improved truck receiving experience for livestock and truck control operations for long-haul drivers, updated vessel loading and emergency unloading processes, and upgraded inspection areas for USDA to ensure health and safety for personnel and livestock.
To communicate the details of this improvement project, Suderman Stevedores and the Port of Galveston recently held the first Texas Livestock Summit in Galveston. The objective of the meeting was to solicit stakeholder expertise to evaluate and discuss current livestock export practices to improve port processes and logistics, with the goal to mitigate logistical and regulatory constraints to develop Galveston into the premier livestock port in the United States. Attendees included the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Texas A&M University, American Genetics International, Wellard Shipping, U.S. Coast Guard, West Gulf Maritime Association, County Judge of Galveston County, Texas Veterinarian & Diagnostic Lab, Texas Animal Health Commission, livestock brokers, feed yards and cattle producers.
This emerging cattle market is expected to create a demand for multiple vessels per quarter for years to come. Suderman Stevedores intend to play a leading role in exporting U.S. cattle. To schedule livestock exports through the Port of Galveston, contact Suderman Stevedores’ Director of Business Development Charles Tillotson (832.622.4381) for terminal-handling details. www.metroports.com.