Livestock transportation

Fit to load reminder for farm animals: if in doubt, leave it out!

As a livestock operator, ensuring best practice in animal welfare when deciding whether an animal is fit to load is a key part of the job. When preparing, loading and delivering livestock, each animal must be fit to be loaded for transport for the entire journey – whether it be by road or rail.

With current strong sheep and cattle prices, there’s no better time to refresh your knowledge of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the land transport of livestock, especially if you’re a producer, agent or transporter. These standards are enforceable and failure to comply is considered an act of animal cruelty, which could could lead to prosecution.

Who is responsible when ensuring an animal is fit to load?

The ‘person in charge’ of the animal is responsible for its welfare under their control and reducing the risk to its wellbeing. At different stages of the animal’s journey, the responsibility shifts. First, the producer/consignor is responsible prior to loading, the transporter/driver is accountable during loading, unloading and during the journey, while the receiver holds responsibility once the animal is unloaded.

When is livestock not fit to load?

At each step of the supply chain, assessments must be made. Consider the following statements when loading livestock. It is not considered fit for transport, if it:

  • is not strong enough to undertake the journey
  • cannot walk normally, bearing weight on all legs
  • is severely emaciated or visibly dehydrated
  • is suffering from severe visible distress or injury
  • is in a condition that could cause it increased pain or distress during transport
  • is blind in both eyes, or
  • is in late pregnancy.

Although it’s often possible to assess livestock with a visual examination, some animals that are unfit to load may not show severe symptoms. Remember: if in doubt, leave it out! Animal welfare and safety is a priority and breaches are considered an act of cruelty prosecutable under state or territory legislation.

Preparing livestock for transport

Ensuring your livestock is correctly prepared for travel is a vital element of a successful journey. Well-prepared stock is known to travel better, are less stressed and therefore associated animal welfare issues can be avoided. You should take the following steps to prepare livestock for transport:

  • plan the journey including rest stops and inspections
  • ensure the transport vehicle is well designed to minimise injury
  • handle livestock quietly and with low force to minimise stress, and
  • avoid mixing different species together, for example cattle and goats.

Risks to take into account during livestock transportation

It is critical to take into account a number of risks during the transportation of animals. Severe stress can be caused by poor preparation, separation and ventilation, which will result in poor meat quality due to animal distress.

Separation is extremely important, as fighting and bullying can occur when young and adults are mixed together. Livestock should be transported in separate compartments from other classes of stock, and horned animals should not be grouped with animals that don’t have horns.

Farm insurance with Allsure Insurance

At Allsure Insurance, we have a wide range of farm and agriculture industry clients, so we know the unique risks involved with each stage of the supply chain – including the safe transportation of livestock. Luckily, we’ve also got wide variety of insurance solutions to match.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation quotation.