Before moving livestock ask yourself 'is the animal fit to load?'


By Linda Searle
District Veterinarian

P: 03 5881 9919 | M: 0427 629 740 | E:

Why do you keep stock? Are they pets? Something to mow the grass? Do you want to be self-sufficient and ensure that any meat you produce is ethically raised? Or something else entirely? There are a lot of different people with a lot of different reasons to run stock. But what everyone has in common is wanting their stock to be healthy and happy. This applies not only on your property but every time they travel, to another property or even to the abattoir.

To make sure that our stock has the best trip possible we have high standards of animal welfare for the transport of livestock. This applies to everyone involved in the process. From you on your property, to the truck driver, agent, saleyard or abattoir staff and anyone else involved in the transport of livestock.

To help interpret these standards some easy-to-use tools have been created.

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

We love our animals, whether they are our companions, our hobby or part of our way of life. Being extra vigilant about the health and welfare of our animals before transporting them is a simple way of ensuring that our animals have the best life possible.

For more information on transporting animals check out our videos below or call your local district vet.

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