Phil O wrote:One reason for the majority of horse boxes being mostly marshalled next to the engine is the requirement to water the horses, the water being available from water cranes. I believe that similar arrangements were used with cattle wagons, for the same reason, the availability of water.
I very much doubt it. Water cranes were designed for filling loco tanks, and delivered several hundred gallons per minute, making it rather difficult to fill a small water trough without getting water everywhere; the trough had to be provided by the station, as livestock vehicles didn't have them, because they were a safety hazard for the animal. Water cranes were not particularly common, and were usually on the main line so that the train blocked the line while they were in use; also, they belonged to the Loco Dept, not to the Traffic Dept which was responsible for looking after animals, so station staff would not be expected to use them.
The normal practice was, so far as I know, to shunt the vehicles into a cattle pen siding, and use a hose to fill a trough or troughs to water the animals at leisure, and in small groups in the pens; a group of thirsty animals which scent water are likely to be uncontrollable, with dangerous results, if they and staff are in the confined space of a cattle truck, for example. Having been moved to the pens, they could then be checked for health and injury and fed if necessary [not a legal requirement but standard practice]. BR practice for large marshalling yards was to provide a set of cattle pens on a dedicated siding. The give-away is the lack of road access - they are there so that livestock in transit through the yard can be checked, and fed and watered as needed. Bear in mind that cattle could travel in considerable numbers, even within the UK, whilst imported Irish cattle traffic could run as complete train loads.