Transporting livestock? 10 tips for protecting livestock in warm weather

With more warm weather forecast over the coming days, it is important to take extra care to protect livestock while they are being transported in such conditions.

Exposure to high temperatures and humidity is a major threat to animal welfare during transport, the North’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has advised.

This poses a serious risk during the summer months and it has said that failure to take account of high temperatures when planning journeys and a lack of adequate contingency plans can cause suffering to animals.

It advises farmers and hauliers that 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, take appropriate action and provide plenty of water and electrolytes to livestock in transit, it says.

10 tips to avoid unnecessary suffering of animals during transportation when the weather is warm:

  1. Avoid excessive disturbance to stock during loading, carriage and unloading.
  2. Inspect the animals more frequently for signs of heat stress.
  3. Avoid penning animals in the hotter parts of the vehicle, these are located at the front end and higher levels of the vehicle.
  4. Increase the space allowance for the animals by at least 30%.
  5. Increase headroom above the animals to maximise air movement and increase the potential for heat exchange; removing tiers and folding decks where possible.
  6. Avoid travelling in the hotter parts of the day by planning the journey to take advantage of cooler conditions at night.
  7. Spray the vehicle with water to cool it down.
  8. Park in the shade whenever possible in warm weather and ideally with the vehicle positioned perpendicular to any prevailing wind.
  9. Use a vehicle with a light coloured roof to reduce the effects of solar gain (mandatory for vehicles transporting animals on journeys over eight hours).
  10. Plan short and long journeys to avoid known delays such as road works and diversions.