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Animal transporters should beware of risks posed by hot weather

Farmers and hauliers are reminded to take extra care to protect any livestock when transporting them during warm weather.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Exposure to high temperatures and humidity is a major threat to animal welfare during transport and poses a serious risk during the summer months. Failure to take account of high temperatures when planning journeys and a lack of adequate contingency plans can cause suffering to animals.

There are a number of steps required to avoid unnecessary suffering of animals during transportation:

 Avoiding excessive disturbance to stock during loading, carriage and unloading;
· Inspecting the animals more frequently for signs of heat stress;
· Providing water or electrolyte solutions more frequently;
· Avoiding penning animals in the hotter parts of the vehicle, these are located at the front end and higher levels of the vehicle;
· Increasing the space allowance for the animals by at least 30%;
· Increasing headroom above the animals to maximise air movement and increase the potential for heat exchange; removing tiers and folding decks where possible;
· Avoiding travelling in the hotter parts of the day by planning the journey to take advantage of cooler conditions at night;
· Spraying the vehicle with water to cool it down;
· Parking in the shade whenever possible, ideally with the vehicle positioned perpendicular to any prevailing wind;
· Using a vehicle with a light coloured roof to reduce the effects of solar gain (mandatory for vehicles transporting animals on journeys over eight hours).

Contingency plans should be in place for every journey, and are particularly important in hot conditions as delays, which might be relatively insignificant under normal conditions, can become critical very quickly. Drivers should be able to recognise signs of heat stress and take appropriate action.

Notes to editors:

  1. All vehicles must carry water and suitable drinking equipment in full working order, which can provide sufficient water or if appropriate, electrolytes, according to the species and age of the animal. To minimise animal stress of travelling in hot weather, full use must be made of ventilation systems and animals should be offered liquid more frequently. If possible, spray the vehicle with cold water and in the case of pigs, spray the animals as well.
  2. The legislation governing animals during transport is Council Regulation EU 1/2005 and the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (as amended).
  3. The Council Regulation covers the transport of not only farm animals, but all vertebrate animals.
  4. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.