Is this animal fit to load?


By Linda Searle, District Veterinarian
P:  03 5881 9919  | M:  0427 629 740  | E:

Sheep on a truck Two cattle peering above the barrier of a livestock transport truck

It’s obvious that healthy livestock are more profitable. You might think this is just due to the production of more, good quality product. But did you know it can also make a difference to the market demand? We know that consumers demand high-quality products, free of chemicals and residues. But, increasingly they also want assurance that the animals are raised and treated humanely.

One of the ways we achieve this is by having standards of animal welfare for the transport of livestock. Everyone involved in the supply chain has an equal role. This includes the farmer and farmworkers, the truck driver, agent, saleyard or abattoir staff and anyone else involved in the transport of livestock.

Industry has produced some easy-to-use tools to help everyone transporting livestock meet these obligations.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) have a handy guide ‘Is the animal fit to load?’ which is available as a pocket-sized hard copy or online at MLA publications and search fit to load. The guide covers pre-loading checklists, feed and water requirements as well as loading densities and examples of what should not be loaded.

In a nutshell, the requirements are that an animal should be healthy enough that being transported won’t cause any suffering or distress.

This means:

  • Being able to bear weight on all four legs
  • No signs of injury or distress
  • Strong enough for travel (not dehydrated or weak and skinny)
  • Not blind in both eyes
  • Not heavily pregnant or too young to travel
  • Meets the maximum time off water standards.

If in doubt, leave it out! Animals that are not fit to load can be treated and reassessed once recovered, or you can consult a vet or consider humane euthanasia of the animal.

If you are transporting pigs, a similar pig-specific guide can be obtained from Australia Pork Limited Is it fit for the intended journey. Pigs are very susceptible to heat stress during transport. This guide includes a tool to calculate if weather conditions are suitable for transporting pigs and provides tips on how to best manage heat stress during transport.

Ensuring your livestock are fit to load not only helps you meet your legal obligations but also supports a thriving livestock industry with huge consumer demand. We love our animals, they are our life, our passion and our livelihoods. Being extra vigilant about the health and welfare of our animals before transporting are important, not just for that individual animal, but our whole industry.

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