Transporting livestock in hot weather conditions

Livestock transporters are reminded they have a responsibility to minimise the risk of heat stress in livestock being transported this summer, whether it’s an interstate journey or a trip into the local saleyard.

Agriculture Victoria Livestock Welfare Compliance Program Manager Rachael Holmes outlined key factors that transporters should consider when planning a journey.

“When hot weather is predicted, plan ahead to allow for a reduced stocking density, and aim to load and transport livestock in the cooler hours of the day. Transporters should consider their journey route, particularly if having to travel though major cities during times of heavy traffic,” Dr Holmes said.

“Any person in charge of an animal during transport, including the consignor, transporter and receiver, must pay particular attention to the time off water to minimise the risk to the welfare of the animals.

“Effective airflow reduces the impact of heat during transport, so transporters should consider the need to stop mid-journey and avoid leaving transport vehicles stationary for extended periods of time.

“If it is necessary to stop, park the vehicle in the shade and at a right angle to the direction of the wind to improve wind flow between animals.”

It is important that transporters familiarise themselves with the signs of heat stress in all species they are transporting and pay particular attention to their behaviour in hot weather.

Dr Holmes said behavioural signs of heat stress in livestock can include increased respiration rate, panting and salivation as well as listlessness and lethargy. Transporters should have contingency plans in place to deal with any heat stressed animals.

Producers and transporters should refer to the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock, to ensure they understand their obligations when presenting livestock for transport or transporting animals.

All people involved in the supply chain have an obligation to ensure livestock in their care are free from pain, suffering or distress.

For further information on heat stress contact your local Animal Health staff at Agriculture Victoria or contact the Customer Call Centre on 136 186.

Source: Agriculture Victoria