Transporting livestock - are they fit to load?
19 Oct 2023
The North Coast Local Land Services Animal Biosecurity and Welfare team have offered advice to livestock producers on their responsibilities in transporting livestock.
When transporting livestock there are a few things livestock producers should know to meet the Animal Welfare Standards & Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock.
The duty of care and management of livestock is a shared responsibility for all those involved throughout the transport chain. This includes stock owners, transport operators, saleyard personnel/receiver and stockpersons.
Best practice is to conduct a welfare assessment of each animal prior to movement ensuring they are fit for transport for the entire journey. The ‘Fit-to-Load’ Guide when transporting livestock published by Meat and Livestock Australia is the best reference for livestock producers in assessing their stock.
The chain of responsibility in transporting livestock is shared between the person in charge at any one point.
Consignor – mustering, handling, preparation including inspection & selection as fit for the intended journey, have adequate feed & water provision and holding periods before loading.
Transporter/Driver – responsible from the point of loading until unloading and notifying the receiver at the destination. Includes final inspection during loading, loading density and adequate spelling periods during the journey.
Receiver (the person at the destination) – responsible for welfare after unloading.
Jocelyn Todd, District Veterinarian for North Coast Local Land Services, said “Livestock must be assessed as fit for the intended journey and must meet a number of criteria.”
The fit to load criteria include that livestock:
- Be able to walk on its own by bearing weight on all four legs
- See well enough to walk, load & travel without impairment or distress. (Not blind in both eyes).
- Be free from visible injury or distress.
- Not be weak, in poor condition or dehydrated.
- Not be heavily pregnant.
- Have had access to water prior to loading to meet maximum time off water standards.
“The overall message we give to livestock producers, if in doubt leave it out.”.
“Livestock should be handled in a manner that minimises stress on the animal and any weak, ill or injured livestock should be managed to minimise risk to their welfare.” Jocelyn said.
The ‘Fit-to-Load’ Guide when transporting livestock is published by Meat and Livestock Australia and is available by visiting their website and there is a range of resources and information available from Local Land Services by visiting this page.
Some animals that do not meet fit to load criteria can be transported under special conditions on veterinary advice, so if you have concerns about the assessment of fitness for the intended journey, contact nearest North Coast Local Land Services office on 1300 795 299 to speak to one of the district veterinarians or speak to a private vet.
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