From Milkin’ To Haulin’

Working with cows is more than just a job – it’s a way of life. Whether on a dairy milking them or out on the road “relocating” them to greener pastures (literally), these cattle become more than just a commodity. For Kevin Rocha (55), who grew up on a dairy and now hauls cows, he has seen both sides of this rural lifestyle. And, after hauling several different types of freight over the years, he wouldn’t want to haul anything besides cows with his bright yellow Peterbilt, which seems to be missing something.

Growing up on a dairy owned by his father Tony and his uncle George in Snelling, CA (Rocha Brothers Dairy), Kevin milked a lot of cows over the years. After high school, he went to Boise State where, among other things, he played football as a linebacker. After injuring his shoulder, he came back home to work on the dairy. In 1987, they moved from Snelling to Hilmar, CA. Wanting a change, Kevin started driving a fuel tanker for John Pazin in 1987, running a 1978 Freightliner conventional. Five years later, Kevin went to work at Foster Farms.

Kevin always wanted to be an owner operator, so in 2010 he started looking at the Truck Trader and eventually found a 1995 Peterbilt 379 with a 3406E Caterpillar and bought it for only $16,000. Being his first truck, he did pretty well! After buying that rig and forming K. Rocha Trucking, he began hauling for Foster Farms, pulling a 1999 reefer to Washington on a regular basis. He did that for a short time and then one of his friends, Pat Faria, asked Kevin to pull one of his cattle trailers… and ever since that day, Kevin has been a cattle hauler.

Lestor Stanford, Kevin’s father-in-law, helped start K. Rocha Trucking, and Kevin and his wife Cindy would not be where they are today if it wasn’t for his help. Pat Faria and Joey Bertao got Kevin started with hauling cattle, and he is grateful for that – he does not want to do anything else. Kevin and Cindy both agreed that cattle hauling is a different lifestyle than any other trucking job. The people they work with are more like family than customers. The relationships they have with the people they work with are a lot different than someone who just hauls regular freight for a company. These people treat each other better and do more things to help one another because cows are more than just freight – they are living creatures, and their health and well-being are vital to the livelihood of their owners.

When CARB started pushing truckers to purchase new equipment with the latest emission “upgrades” (LOL), the government offered Kevin $50,000 to trade in his old truck and replace it with a brand new one – this, for the truck he only paid $16,000 for – how could he say no! Kevin ordered the yellow and black 2014 Pete 389 you see here in 2013. Powered by a 600-hp Cummins with 2,050 foot-pounds of torque and an 18-speed trans, Kevin pulls a 2017 Merritt cattle trailer. This slammed 2014 truck, with no stacks (it has a factory weed-burner exhaust underneath), has had some custom work done to it like front air bags, shaved air cleaner straps, polished half-fenders with hidden brackets, extra lights, a drop visor and underglow lighting. All of this custom work was done by Tony Duarte of Hilmar, CA.

When not trucking, Kevin and Cindy enjoy spending time with their kids, Taylor and Devyn, along with their granddaughter, Tatumn, too. In addition to trucking, farming is also in Kevin’s blood. Growing various commodities throughout the year on about 20 acres, he likes to do that when he’s not out on the road. Kevin would like to thank Lestor Stanford, Pat Faria, Joey Bertao and Tony Duarte for all their help over the years, and Luis Freitas of L & L signs for doing all the lettering on his truck and trailer.

These days, Kevin is so busy that he is considering buying a second truck and trailer. His wife Cindy does not have a CDL, but she says that she would be willing to get it if he buys her a small Peterbilt with an automatic transmission to drive. He’s thinking about it. But, for now, he will just keep rolling in his big yellow Peterbilt (which some call Big Bird), doing what he loves best – hauling cows all over the west. And, whether his truck has stacks or not, we still love it!

About Jared Fagundes