Maintaining Livestock Welfare – Is Your Livestock Fit For The Journey?

The trade of transporting and exporting livestock comes with numerous regulations and requirements which legally must be followed or else breaches could result in drastic consequences. 

If you load livestock that isn’t fit for the trip, you may be subject to severe fines or convictions. Those in the industry of trading livestock, such as contractors, transport operators or receivers, who are in charge of maintaining welfare before, during and after transport, must follow set guidelines to ensure all livestock are being handled correctly and humanely. 

This guide has been developed to help you decide if an animal is fit to be loaded for transport to any destination within Australia. 

An animal is not fit for the journey if it is: 

    • Not strong enough to undertake the journey 
    • Unable to walk normally or bear its weight on all legs 
    • Severely emaciated or dehydrated
    • Suffering from severe visible injury/distress
    • In a condition that could cause increased pain or distress during transport 
    • Blind in both eyes 
    • In late pregnancy or gave birth within the last 72 hours 
  • Showing ingrown horns or significant injuries

Regulations are in place to protect Australian livestock during transport. It is an offence to transport an animal in a manner that may cause it physical or intense psychological harm. 

If you’re unsure if an animal meets the requirements, it’s safe practice to exclude it from travel. 

Failure To Define Unfit Livestock Consequences 

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) created a free pictorial guide available to help assess if livestock is fit for its intended journey. This resource dives into the ethics and best practice of animal welfare when preparing, loading and delivering Australia’s main livestock products like cattle, sheep and goats. 

In this source, MLA General Manager, Michael Crowley, stated that if the person in charge of the animal’s wellbeing, at any point of transport, causes it harm or forces it into a harmful situation, they commit an act of cruelty and are liable to prosecution “under state or territory legislation”. 

“As such, it is also unacceptable for any party to coerce or intimidate the ‘person in charge’ into loading an animal that is not fit for the journey,” he said. 

“Knowing who the ‘person in charge’ of animals is at different stages of the journey and the scope of those responsibilities is important for many reasons.” 

The maximum penalty for an individual convicted of animal cruelty is $266,900 or 3 years imprisonment under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001

Why Is Animal Welfare Important? 

Animal welfare refers to the quality of life experienced by an animal. It also encompasses how the animal copes with its situations and surroundings. Unnecessary cruelty and unfair treatment of animals have co-existed with the livestock industry for generations. But, current laws aim to improve the overall quality of life for domestic animals and livestock. 

The Australian Government holds all citizens responsible for the well being and protection of any animals in their care; this includes those who work in industries with regular animal interaction. 

Australians have an enduring obligation to seek expert assistance where necessary to ensure the welfare of animals. 

Good Transport Preparation Habits

Meat & Livestock Australia, as well as Australian Pork, have established correct transportation habits which minimise stress before, during and after transit: 

  • Competently select livestock before loading 
  • Implement correct animal handling practices 
  • Implement protection from injury and disease 
  • Plan the most appropriate route with adequate rest and inspection times
  • Avoid severe weather systems which could affect the livestock and aim to transport in the earlier or later stages of the day to avoid transit in the hottest part of the day
  • Ensure all loading/unloading areas and vehicles are “fit for the purpose” and pose no risk of injuring animals or malfunctioning

Under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, livestock animals are entitled to get access to drinkable water within a set amount of hours depending on their species. Failure to comply with the above processes could prevent an animal from being fit for the next stages of transport. 

Our team at Global Tanks, want to help improve the well-being of Australian livestock. We create a range of agricultural products that benefit all kinds of livestock. Whether it’s a Molasses Lick, feeder or a trough, get in contact today to find the perfect solution for your animals.

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