Transport of Casualty Farm Animals (PB1381)

Advice to the Veterinary Surgeon


This Guidance recommends farmers to seek the advice of a veterinary surgeon where there is doubt on how a casualty animal should be dealt with. In many cases you will be asked to make a judgement on the farm on whether an animal should be slaughtered there or can be transported satisfactorily for treatment or slaughter.


In all cases the primary concern must be for the welfare of the animal. Other arguments for transporting a casualty animal, such as possible salvage value of the carcase, and the potential difficulties of arranging on-farm slaughter or of disposal of the body of an animal killed on-farm, should not influence your judgement on this issue.


You are not required by law to make any written declaration on a casualty animal's fitness to travel, although you may be asked by the farmer or haulier to provide advice in writing as to the animal's fitness to travel.


An owner's declaration, required by the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995, must accompany any animal which is suspected or known to be diseased or injured to the slaughterhouse. Where the owner has asked you to examine the animal your diagnosis will be recorded on this form. A model declaration is given in Annex A.


Before advising that a casualty animal can be transported for slaughter, you should make sure that suitable arrangements have been made to accept the animal upon arrival at the slaughterhouse. You are advised to contact someone in authority at the slaughterhouse, preferably the Official Veterinary Surgeon, to discuss the arrangements.


Animals which are incapable of rising and would require lifting into a vehicle should not normally be transported. The transportation of such an animal should only be considered if in the opinion of the veterinary surgeon this would be in its best interest, and if the animal can be lifted easily by two people.


A range of factors influence whether or not a casualty animal can be transported without causing unnecessary suffering, and professional judgement will need to be exercised in each case. Account should be taken of the factors in paragraph 29.


It is important to assess whether or not an animal which, on departure, appears fit to travel will arrive at its destination in a similar state.


Where there is any doubt about the animal's fitness to travel, it should not be transported. Conditions such as an uncomplicated hernia or prolapse of the rectum or virgina would not necessarily preclude an animal from being transported provided measures, such as separating the animal or supplying adequate bedding, are taken to ensure that the protruding organ cannot become traumatised during transport. However, animals with severe open wounds, prolapses of the uterus or severe internal haemorrhages (such as a ruptured uterus) will inevitably deteriorate in condition during transport and should not be transported for slaughter.


In order to avoid a difference of opinion about whether the animal should have been transported when it arrives at the slaughterhouse, a full discussion between veterinary surgeon and OVS should take place where possible. Whether or not a discussion takes place it is advisable to keep written case notes. It is also important to remember that the law is enforced by the local authority animal health and welfare inspectors, who must be kept fully informed if there is a problem. The law is enforced by local authorities, and it is for them to decide what action, if any, is to be taken in such cases.


An animal which cannot bear any weight on one or more legs should not be transported. When deciding whether or not a lame animal is fit to travel, consider the degree of lameness and the demeanour of the animal. The movement of the vehicle will require an animal which is standing to use all four legs to maintain balance and this is likely to inflict considerably more pain on the lame animal than simply standing in a pen on-farm.


It is clearly permissible to transport a casualty animal for treatment or slaughter in the circumstances set out in The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997. However, you should note the phrase 'cause or permit' in sub-paragraph (d) of Article 21 of the Order. It is an offence to cause or permit any animal to be transported in a way which causes or is likely to cause unnecessary suffering. It is possible that, where a person is prosecuted for an offence under the Order and has followed a veterinary surgeon's advice, the veterinary surgeon could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the commission of the offence.

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