We have all seen livestock at some stage in a saleyard or on a truck that don't look quite right.
They may be emaciated, have a current injury/disease like pinkeye or even be carrying an old injury such as a broken leg.
Make no mistakes, there is Legislation that prescribes what is acceptable to load as well as Animal Welfare Guidelines that can assist you to make an informed decision.
The first thing to ascertain is, who is responsible?
Under the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act, 1977, the 'person in charge' of animals is responsible for the welfare of the animals under their control, care and supervision.
The chain of responsibility for livestock welfare in the transport process is:
- the consignor/vendor for the assembling and preparation of livestock, including the assessment and selection as 'fit for the intended journey', feed and water provisions and holding periods before loading;
- the transporter for the journey, which involves the loading, including final inspection as 'fit for the intended journey', the loading density, inspections and spelling periods during the journey and unloading; and
- the receiver after loading and prior to sale or processing.
Before livestock are loaded, you should ensure that you can complete the below checklist remembering that you are responsible for ensuring the animals are fit to load as well as fit for the intended journey before they are loaded - no excuses.
You are responsible for ensuring the animals are fit to load as well as fit for the intended journey before they are loaded - no excuses.
- The animal can walk on its' own by bearing weight on all four legs;
- The animal is free from visible signs of severe injury or distress or conditions likely to further compromise its' welfare during transport;
- The animal is strong enough to make the journey (ie. not dehydrated or emaciated);
- The animal can see well enough to walk, load and travel without impairment or distress (eg. not blind in both eyes);
- The animal is not in late pregnancy or too young to travel; and
- The animal has had adequate access to water prior to loading to meet the maximum time off water standards.
If the animal is not fit to load you must then either treat the animal and reassess, consult a veterinary surgeon or humanely euthanase the animal using a firearm or captive bolt gun.
Examples of animals that are unfit to load and require euthanasing include leg deformity, ingrown horn, hernia, blind in both eyes, scabby mouth, late stages of pregnancy, and emaciated.
Long hoof may cause lameness and an arched back could indicate that the animal is in pain.
Scabby mouth is a highly infectious zoonotic disease while emaciated is evident when the ribs, hips or backbone are clearly prominent.