SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Transport of Farmed Animals

Farmed Animals

SPCA advocates that there should be an overall maximum total limit of eight hours for all journeys for farmed animals within New Zealand.

The journey time must be counted as beginning when the first animal is loaded into the transport vehicle and ending when the last animal is unloaded.

SPCA advocates that, where animals are to be transported for slaughter, they must be sent to the slaughterhouse nearest to the farm to ensure minimal transport times.

Multiple journeys should not be permitted for animals transported for the purposes of slaughter.

(See ‘Slaughter’ for more information)

(See ‘Stunning and Slaughter of Farmed Fish’ for more information)

SPCA advocates that no animal is transported unless they are fit to travel.

Animals who are unfit to travel include but are not limited to: those who are sick, injured, weak, disabled or fatigued; those who are unable to stand unaided and bear weight on each leg; those who cannot be moved without causing them additional welfare harms; those which are very young; and females in late pregnancy (defined as in the last trimester of pregnancy). Sick or injured animals must not be transported, and must either be killed on site, or when a veterinarian certifies that the particular animal can be transported.

(See ‘Young Animals from the Dairy Industry’ for more information)

(See ‘Down Cows’ for more information)

SPCA opposes the practice of transporting animals together from different locations.

If animals from different locations are required to travel together, they must be penned separately. This is to reduce the risk of disease transmission and stress caused by unfamiliar animals mixing.

SPCA advocates that in all instances, horned and non-horned animals must be segregated during transport.

If horned and non-horned animals are required to travel together, adequate transport facilities must be provided to minimise the likelihood of injuries. This would require that animals with long horns, such as Highland Cows, be penned separately from non-horned animals during transport.

SPCA advocates that suitable and sufficient shelter and fresh, freely available water must be provided for all animals who are awaiting transportation on-farm or elsewhere.

SPCA advocates that shelter is provided which is clean, dry, suitably ventilated and that offers protection from heat or cold stress for all animals who are waiting on-farm or elsewhere to be collected for transportation. Shelter of the same standard must be provided during transportation, at saleyards/markets and at processing plants prior to slaughter. The shelter should be appropriate and sufficient for the species and the numbers of animals contained within it to allow for each animal to be able to stand up or lie down in its own space. All animals must have access to fresh water at all times while awaiting transport.

Animals from different farms should not be mixed in lairage. All lairage facilities should be designed to facilitate low-stress, force-free handling of farmed animals.

SPCA is concerned about the welfare harms associated with back rub in cattle whose backs are injured after rubbing during transportation to slaughterhouses.

This issue occurs when the cattle transported are too large for the transport crates. SPCA advocates that farmers, transport operators and stock agents work together to avoid potential welfare harms when transporting large stock to ensure that injuries are not sustained in the loading, unloading or transport of animals. Farmers, transport operators and stock agents should also be aware of the actual size of transport crates when organising transport for cattle off farm, and be aware of size and weight of cattle being transported, so steps can be taken to safely transport them.

SPCA advocates that covers must be used securely on livestock trucks when animals are loaded on the top deck during transportation.

Where there is no adequate covering for the top deck of livestock trucks, SPCA is concerned there is significant potential for trauma and death resulting from insecure and improperly confined animals in transport.

SPCA advocates for the establishment of formal training and ongoing education and assessment for drivers of vehicles involved in the transportation of animals.

The training and education should include adequate knowledge of the husbandry and welfare of animal species in their care. All animal transporters should receive ongoing training on low-stress, force-free handling of farmed animals and driving techniques to minimise welfare harms (e.g. avoiding hard braking or acceleration, gentle cornering).

(See ‘Handling of Farmed Animals’ for more information)

SPCA opposes the live export of farmed and wild-caught animals by sea.

(See ‘Live Export of Farmed and Wild Caught Animals by Sea and Air’ for more information)

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