October 25, 2012
As sheep numbers rise at saleyards during the busy spring selling period producers need to carefully consider the welfare of the sheep they are transporting. Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Animal Health Officer Veronica Campbell regularly attends saleyards and inspects sheep to ensure they are fit for the journey ahead. “Livestock need to be inspected by farmers before they are loaded onto a truck for transport. They should be checked for injuries or disabilities that make them unfit for the journey,” Miss Campbell said. An animal is not fit for a journey (or fit to load) if it is: unable to walk normally or bear weight on all legs; severely emaciated or visibly dehydrated; showing signs of severe injury or distress; suffering from conditions that are likely to cause increased pain or distress during transport for example: large cancers which are likely to bleed if knocked; blind in both eyes; is in late pregnancy (except for short trips direct to another property). Miss Campbell said selling livestock through a saleyard could involve extended periods without feed and water. “Transporters and farmers should familiarise themselves with the maximum time stock can be kept off feed and water and ensure that they adhere to these guidelines. The time will vary between different species and ages of stock.” Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange manager Paul Christopher also works to actively improve the standards of sheep coming to the Horsham saleyards. “Producers also need to consider the fact that once sheep arrive at the saleyards they may be kept in concrete yards until they are sold,” he said. “If sheep are already a bit lame when they arrive at the saleyards, being left in a concrete yard overnight may increase lameness and cause further pain and suffering.” Miss Campbell encouraged producers to leave livestock at home if they had any doubts about whether it is fit for transport. “Saleyards are not a place to dispose of ‘unfit’ animals. Unfit animals should be treated or humanely destroyed on-farm,” she said.