Transport of Casualty Farm Animals (PB1381)



The keeping of an animal in pain on a farm, or permitting it so to be kept, as opposed to arranging for appropriate treatment or humane slaughter, could lead to prosecution under the provisions of:
The Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary pain or unnecessary distress to any livestock on agricultural land; and
The Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912, which make it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal.


Specific rules for the transport of animals are set out in the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997, which revoked previous legislation on the transport of unfit animals. Paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (6) of article 6 of the Order, which are particularly relevant to the transport of casualty animals, are quoted in full below:


(para 1) No person shall transport any animals unless -
(a) it is fit for the intended journey; and
(b) suitable provision has been made for its care during the journey and on arrival at the place of destination.


(para 2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1) above, for the purposes of this article an animal shall not be considered fit for its intended journey if it is ill, injured, infirm or fatigued, unless it is only slightly injured, ill, infirm or fatigued and the intended journey is not likely to cause it unnecessary suffering.


(para 3) For the purposes of this article mammals shall not be considered fit for transport if they -
(a) are likely to give birth during transport;
(b) have given birth during the preceding 48 hours; or
(c) are newborn animals in which the navel has not completely healed.


(para 6) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (1) and (2) above, any cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and horses may be transported to the nearest available place for veterinary treatment or diagnosis, or to the nearest place of slaughter if the animal is not likely to be subject to unnecessary suffering by reason of its unfitness. However, an animal transported under the provisions of this paragraph may not be dragged or pushed by any means or lifted by a mechanical device, unless this is done in the presence of and under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon who is arranging for it so be transported with all practicable speed to a place for veterinary treatment.


The legislation puts a responsibility on all involved in the transport of a casualty animal - farmer, haulier and veterinary surgeon - to ensure that only animals suitable for loading, travelling and subsequent unloading are actually transported for slaughter


The term 'unfit' is not defined in the Order, although it sets out a number of conditions which may cause an animal to be unfit (see above, Article 6 paragraphs (2) and (3) of the Order). It is the severity of the condition which will determine whether or not the animal is fit for transport.


Paragraph (6) of Article 6 permits the transport of an unfit animal to the 'nearest available place for veterinary treatment or diagnosis, or to the nearest place of slaughter.' Some animals will not be suitable for transport. However, where an animal is suitable for transport, such transport must be carried out in a way which does not cause the animal unnecessary suffering.


It is illegal to drag or push, or lift by a mechanical device, any unfit animal which is being transported for slaughter.


The public health controls on the admission of live casualty animals to a slaughterhouse are given in the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995, Regulation 17 of which states:
(1) No person shall send an animal which he knows or suspects to be diseased or injured to a slaughterhouse unless he has given the occupier of the slaughterhouse reasonable notice of his intention to send it.
(2) No person shall bring into, or permit to be brought into, a slaughterhouse any animal which he knows or suspects to be diseased or injured unless -
    (a) he has already ensured that it is accompanied by a written declaration signed by the owner or person in charge of it containing the information specified in Schedule 18; and
    (b) that declaration is handed to an inspector or an OVS as soon as is practical after the animal's arrival at the slaughterhouse.
(3) The occupier of the slaughterhouse shall ensure that on arrival at the slaughterhouse the animal -
    (a) is slaughtered without delay following ante-mortem inspection; or
(b) is taken without delay under the direction of an inspector or the OVS to that part of the lairage provided for the isolation of diseased or injured animals.


The written declaration (Schedule 18 of the Regulations, reproduced in Annex A to this Guidance) which accompanies a live casualty animal is signed by the farmer. The declaration form includes a note of the owner's legal responsibility to avoid causing the animal unnecessary suffering during transport. Although there is no legal requirement for casualty animals to be certified by a veterinary surgeon as fit to travel, equally there is no legal objection to such certification being provided (see paragraphs 48 and 57).


Where the condition of an animal is such that it cannot be transported without unnecessary suffering, then Regulation 18 of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 (reproduced in Annex B of this Guidance) lays down the conditions which must be met for the carcase of an animal slaughtered on the farm to be accepted at the slaughterhouse. Further advice is given in the section Slaughtering Animals on the Farm.


The law regarding the treatment of casualty animals in slaughterhouses and knacker's yards is given in Schedule 3 of the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995.

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