Article: Airborne Bovines

  • Winged Cargo Bovines
    September, 1946, Aircraft & Airport
    by Albert Turner

    Cloud-hopping cowboys borne along the blue sky range by 3,000 horses in the power plants of their DC-3 began a new page in the story of Canada’s cattle-breeding industry when they delivered a cargo of eight Holstein bull calves direct from Malton to Havana in only more than ten hours flying time.

    When that shining silver aircraft touched down in the twilight at Havana amid the ringing cheers of the Cuban crowd, the eight calves, fresh from Ontario farms, stepped out to a welcome that would have flattered a movie star. The speech making in Spanish didn’t mean a thing to the baby bulls, but their arrival in Cuba marked completion of the first airborne movement of cattle from Canada, and the first shipment of purebred Canadian Holsteins ever to arrive in that country.

    Successful completion of that flight from Malton to Havana has opened a new vista to Canadian cattle breeders, and to the people of South American countries. It was just the beginning of a series of cattle shipments by air, which are following with increasing regularity to Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

    Seven calves in that cargo represented a trial shipment purchased by the Cuban Department of Agriculture, and the Minister of Agriculture himself led the cheering when the aircraft arrived. These animals will be subjected to a series of experiments, which it is hoped will lead to further shipments from Canada and result in more than doubling milk production in Cuba. The eighth animal went on to Puerto Rico where it was delivered to the ranch of a private breeder and will be used for herd improvement.

    “By flying cattle to South America from Canada we are cutting off just 23 hours of everyday shipping time,” Harry Hays, president of Hays Limited of Brampton who handled the shipment, declared. “The costs of shipping by air as compared to costs of shipping by water are so close it is hard to believe.  Compared to water-borne costs, the extra on that first air shipment was less than $100, and that was more than made up in benefits gained by direct delivery and the good condition of the cattle on arrival.”

    He pointed out that a shipment by water of the eight bull calves would take 14 days from Brampton to Havana. Two tons of equipment and feed plus an attendant would be required, with all the ensuing risks of transferring from rail to water and water to rail. For that first Winged Cargo Canadian cattle flight, two bales of hay were put aboard with the animals at Malton when they were loaded, and they were fed again when the aircraft put down in Havana. “There was more red tape than hay involved in the deal.” Harry admitted.

    This article originally appeared in the September, 1946 edition of Aircraft & Airport magazine.

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