News & Advice

Transporting lame animals and veterinary transport certificates:

Sep 3, 2018 | Compliance, Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare

As of October the 1st 2018, as a rule, all lame animals being transported will likely need a veterinary certificate to certify that the animal is fit to transport. Being lame is essentially defined as having a definitive limp or being unable to bear weight on one or more legs when standing or moving. The full clause and definitions can be found at the following link 
Although the requirements for transport are essentially unchanged, MPI is now enforcing transport breaches under section 23 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 with infringement notices and/or fines. This will include people in charge of the animals transported (owner/farmer) and Veterinarians who certificate animals which are not fit for transport. As Veterinarians, we follow strict guidelines to ensure animal welfare isn’t compromised during transport. If we don’t certify an animal, then it categorically cannot be transported. If an animal is not fit for transport, we then have a responsibility to help provide solutions; this includes providing appropriate veterinary care to get them up to the minimal standards for transport or advising on alternative solutions such as humane euthanasia or on farm slaughter where appropriate. 
Please also remember, Veterinarians in practice can only certify for the transport of stock. We cannot certify animals as being fit for consumption, and we have no control over what happens to animals at the meat works. 
Each transport certificate is only valid for a maximum of a week. It is recommended that you pre-arrange with a stock agent if the works can take the cows prior to getting the certificate but, be mindful that there are times when we will need to liaise with the MPI Veterinarian at the works in cases when it may be unclear if the animal is fit for transport. As contact with the works Vet can take some time, it should not be presumed that a certificate can always be issued on the day of inspection of the animal. When we write a certificate we also need to know where the animals are intended to go to slaughter. If that is not suitable (usually dependant on distance from the farm to the meat works but other examples could include the steepness of the loading races at some facilities which would make it difficult for lame animals to navigate), then the Veterinarian is able to direct where the animal is required to go to slaughter. 
Remember, prior to transport, cattle should be stood off from green pasture (which could include a holding yard or grazed out area) for at least six to eight hours, but they must have access to water during this time. 
MPI has a great App which you can download as a guide for what conditions in cattle are unacceptable for transport. It’s called ‘Fit for Transport’ and is available for download via the app store on your smartphone or device. 

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