Fitness of livestock for transport

By Caroline Hamilton, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Huntly

The Animal Welfare act tells us that animals must not be transported if they display any injuries, signs of disease, abnormal behaviour or physical abnormalities that could compromise their welfare during the journey. If they have any of these problems, then to travel, a veterinary declaration of fitness for transport must be completed.

If you have any stock you would like to transport that may have a welfare issue, give us a ring to discuss the problem. From the conversation, we can give you an idea of the likelihood of us being able to certify the animal you are concerned about. To give you a certificate, we need to visit the animal and to examine it in a suitable yard or crush (depending on the condition).
Our most common query is lameness. If an animal is not walking evenly on all four limbs, we may not be able to provide a transport certification due to Animal Welfare Regulations. We are very happy to talk to you and to come and have a look to make sure you have the kindest and most profitable outcome for the animal.

What to expect from your vet visit

After we have decided she is fit to travel, points to consider from a welfare perspective are that if the health of an animal is already compromised prior to transport, the process of transportation may exacerbate the condition. Steep ramps, travel fatigue and hard ground, are a reality through to slaughter. Often distance and time affect welfare during transport and arrival condition. Therefore, reason, vet certificates have transport conditions. The vet will apply conditions to reduce the risk of the animal becoming compromised during transport. The conditions are:
  1. Direct to slaughter premises – i.e. the closest works to the farm.
  2. Reduced pen density and with herd mates only.
  3. Last on, first off.
  4. Lower deck.
  5. Other (vet discretion, e.g. time of day transported so not in the heat of day, time of travel in relation to kill time).

The farmer is required to sign on the certificate that heshe will:
  • Comply with the instructions described, including the expiry date.
  • Not transport the animal if the condition changes without seeking further veterinary advice.
  • Advise the transport operator of the transport requirements.
  • Advise the slaughter premises the animal has a veterinary certificate and should be considered for priority slaughter.

A veterinary certificate is valid for a maximum of 7 days from the date of clinical examination, and a shorter period of validity may be given as more appropriate for the condition. You will need to know the works your animal is going to and the location. If this is not the closest works to the farm, then the MPI VS veterinarian at the works will need to be contacted. The transporter copy of the cert must travel with the animal; there is a farmer copy and a vet copy.

For further information regarding transporting your animals or to gain certification, contact your vet.

Date Added: Wednesday, 31st March 2021