With strong sheep and cattle prices, producers, agents and transporters are being reminded that livestock must be fit to load for the journey ahead.
Agriculture Victoria Livestock Welfare Compliance Program Manager Dr Rachael Holmes said it's important that all parties across the livestock supply chain were aware of their obligations when transporting livestock.
"Livestock must be inspected prior to being loaded and they must not be suffering from conditions that could cause, or would be likely to cause, increased pain or distress during transport," Dr Holmes said.
"Any person in charge of an animal, which may include producers, farm workers, transporters and livestock agents, must not allow any animal to be loaded that is not fit for the journey ahead.
"It is the responsibility of each person in charge of the animal at each step of the supply chain, to make that assessment, and to make appropriate arrangements for the care, treatment or humane destruction of any animals that are deemed to be unfit for transportation."
Abattoirs and saleyards also have a duty of care to the livestock they receive. If the welfare of received livestock is compromised, these livestock will be managed according to policy and procedures, which may include reporting to the department for investigation.
Consider these questions when loading livestock. If the answer is yes to any, the animal is not fit for transport.
- Is it lame? That is, the animal cannot walk on its own, bearing weight on all legs
- Is it too weak to undertake the journey, emaciated or visibly dehydrated?
- Is it suffering from severe visible distress, injury or disease?
- Is it suffering from any condition that could cause it increased pain during transport?
- Is it blind in both eyes?
- Is it in late pregnancy?
Persons transporting livestock are also reminded of a new provision in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019 regarding the transportation of animals that are not fit to load.
The new regulation, 6(6) stipulates that a person must not transport a farm animal or livestock that is not able to walk on its own by bearing weight on all legs. Transporters can face infringement penalties of up to $495 or prosecution for offences under this regulation.
For more information about the MLA fit to load guide visit www.mla.com.au/fittoload. This national guide will help producers, agents, buyers and transporters decide if an animal is fit to be loaded for transport by road or rail to any destination within Australia.