Transport of Cattle, Sheep and other farm animals
Getting cattle and sheep to a show, to the abattoir, to a new owner or even to the vets can be an issue.
Loading and unloading is a major issue. And there are serious laws about how you are allowed to do so - all to do with animal welfare and safety.
It is essential that owners plan for such journeys. For those of us who have a lorry or trailer it is good practice to ensure that the vehicles are roadworthy and legal with brakes, batteries and electrics that work and good tyres.
If you have no transport of your own, find the number of local hauliers who can help.
Please make sure that your animals are good to load. Only animals of the same type can be loaded together, and these should be ones that already know each other - you do not want fights between animals half way up a ramp.
When loading ensure that there is only one place the animals can go with stoat hurdles or similar. Arrange for straw or wood shavings inside and on the ramp - animals do not like walking up ramps or on aluminium. Try and use a forcing gate to help guide the animals up. Try food in the trailer. With smaller animal like sheep, in necessary carry one in and the others usually follow. Do not hit them with stick or goads - this is against the law. Above all be patient.
In many cases you can get the animals used to travel by taking them on short journeys around your farm or small holding. Commence by taking them for short non - stressful journeys and always drive defensively so they are not hurled about by sudden braking, acceleration or by Formula One cornering! It is better to aggravate the cars following you, than frighten the animal; so get used to being unpopular (you will be able to get your own back when you are following caravans).
An old farmer once said - If you like beer, imagine that you have the last pint of beer in the world on your dashboard as you drive pull your trailer when it has animals in it.
Generally speaking they travel very well and seem to concentrate on their balance, often enjoying looking out of the side.
Ventilation in transport is critical. Ensure vents are fully open - even in the rain.
If during the journey there is noise and commotion in the back that suggests that something is going on, PLEASE do not stop by side of the road and open the side door to investigate. This can be very dangerous for you and potentially catastrophic. Drive to a safe place where you can get help and have a look at the problem. The hard shoulder is not the place for this!!!
Transport can be a challenge but the aim is to minimise stress for all concerned. Oh! and don't forget your mobile phone; your reading glasses; a pen; your credit card; a map and your medication and wherever possible a companion - it is always nice to have someone to blame when you get lost!!!
And water for the animals of course
P.S. Since 5 January 2008, those transporting cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry by road on journeys over 65km in connection with an economic activity (this includes shows - as it is argued that showing helps you sell animals later Ed. ) must be independently assessed in their competence - click here for details.