Transport of Casualty Farm Animals (PB1381)



This Guidance relates to the welfare aspects of transporting casualty farm animals (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs). It is not intended to relate to other species such as poultry, deer and horses, to which different considerations apply. This Guidance takes into account changes to the legislation introduced by the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 and the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997.


While the Guidance is intended to be as helpful as possible, it does not give a definitive interpretation of the law; that is a matter for the Courts.


Although the term 'casualty animal' is widely used in the livestock industry, the law regarding casualty animals uses the term 'unfit'. 'Casualty' is used in the Guidance to describe animals which are suffering from disease or injury, where the decision has been taken to slaughter them. The decision which faces farmers, hauliers and veterinary surgeons is whether to send them to a slaughterhouse or to slaughter them on the farm, and this Guidance has been prepared to help them reach the correct decision.


The advice given in relation to transporting casualty animals may also be appropriate for animals which are infirm, fatigued, newborn, heavily pregnant or which have recently given birth, and those with physical defects.


General Principles


An unfit animal may only be transported if it is being taken for veterinary treatment or if it is being taken to the nearest available place of slaughter.


The welfare of a casualty animal must be the most important consideration when deciding whether or not it should be transported. Casualty animals require very special care and consideration, and every effort must be made to prevent them suffering.


If there is any doubt about the best course of action, the owner of a casualty animal is advised to consult a veterinary surgeon. Arrangements for dealing with casualty animals should also be discussed with the official veterinary surgeon at the slaughterhouse.


If an animal is in severe pain, and that pain is uncontrollable, then the animal should be slaughtered without delay and salvage should not be a consideration. (In such cases a veterinary surgeon should be consulted immediately if possible).


If a casualty animal does not need to be slaughtered immediately but it cannot be transported without causing unnecessary suffering, it should be slaughtered humanely on the farm. A veterinary inspection prior to slaughter will indicate if the animal is likely to be fit for human consumption, and the carcase may be sent to a slaughterhouse provided that the legal requirements given in Annex B are observed.


If a casualty animal is to be transported to a slaughterhouse it must be capable of being transported without causing unnecessary suffering. A veterinary inspection is not required by law for such a journey, but the farmer must complete a declaration before the animal begins the journey. This declaration must give the details of the illness / injury and any veterinary diagnosis to establish whether the animal is likely to be fit for human consumption. This declaration must accompany the animal to the slaughterhouse where the animal will be inspected to confirm that it was suitable for transportation.

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