Transporting livestock to minimise stress and welfare risks

Proper planning and preparation are key

Tablelands Telegraph - December 2021

Lucienne Downs, District Vet

Livestock must be transported in a way that minimises stress and animal welfare risks. The responsibility for the welfare of livestock during transport apply to all people involved including producers, managers, saleyard managers/superintendents, feedlot operators, agents, livestock processing plants, drivers and transporters.

People involved in the transport of livestock should ensure the livestock are adequately prepared for the trip and that the trip is planned to minimise the cumulative effects of stress on the animals.

Preparation and planning include:

  • avoiding extreme weather conditions
  • minimising stressful management prior to transport
  • ensuring yards and loading ramps are adequate
  • using low stress handling techniques
  • ensuring the correct times for withholding feed and water are followed for that age and status of the livestock
  • recording times off feed and water
  • ensuring livestock are spelled when required for the correct times
  • ensure animals are fit to load
  • ensure animals are segregated appropriately for transport
  • ensure the correct livestock density is followed
  • ensure all animals are tagged and that the correct paperwork is completed and signed.

Animals that are considered unfit to load include animals that are unable to stand or walk properly, animals that have visible injuries or conditions that may compromise their welfare, animals that are blind or that have eye injuries, animals in late pregnancy and animals that are weak or emaciated. The documents below provide more information, however, the adage “if in doubt, leave it out” applies.

In case of emergencies, the owner of the livestock, or agent should be contactable or available in case of an emergency such as a truck rollover or when an animal needs to be euthanased. It is important that provision is made for the humane euthanasia of livestock during transport if required.

More information can be found on the links provided below:

The Australian Animal Welfare standards and Guidelines for the Transport of Livestock

Meat and Livestock Australia - Preparing stock for transport guide

Meat and Livestock Australia - Fit to load guide (updated 2019)

Meat and Livestock Australia - Fit to load guide on YouTube

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