Tips for stress-free livestock transporting

21 Jun 2019

*Adapted from Farmers Weekly

Stress in animals causes the suppression of their immune system, resulting in animals being susceptible to diseases such as Shipping Fever (Pasteurella) and Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD). These diseases can be fatal or accrued depending on the amount of stress exerted on the animal. The microorganisms in the animal multiply due to the suppression of the immune system, resulting in the animal getting sick. Stressors include heat stress, post-weaning stress, cold stress and transportation stress. Animals that are under stress tend to lose their appetite and productivity during production time.

If you stress livestock while transporting them then you are likely to end up with unnecessary weight loss, or even bruises or other injuries that could lead to disease, carcass rejection or even mortality.

Stress during transportation also has a negative impact on meat quality, which will affect your profits in the long term.

According to the Animal Health and Welfare Regulations, overloading trucks when delivering animals to Meatco’s Abattoirs is prohibited. This is due to the impact that overloading has on animals, including injury and death. Overloading does not only affect one animal but up to 5 of every 15 cattle loaded, resulting in insurance companies not paying out for such practices. Meatco thus urges suppliers and transporters to adhere to regulations and avoid overloading trucks.

Animals inevitably lose some weight during transportation, as they do not eat or drink during the trip. The main goal, however, is to ensure that they do not lose weight due to dehydration.

On arrival at their final destination, such animals should be given enough space to rest and allowed to eat and drink freely.

Animals should be herded into the loading area the day before they are led onto the transport. Prior to loading, they should receive enough food and, particularly, water to prevent dehydration.

A loading facility should be spacious enough to accommodate the trucks and allow a stress-free flow of animals into the vehicles.