Transport of Casualty Farm Animals (PB1381)

Advice to the Farmer

General Dos and Don'ts


Don't leave all decisions until you have an emergency on your hands - when you have a casualty animal, speed is of the essence. Discuss with your veterinary surgeon, haulier, slaughterhouse and knacker's yard in advance what facilities exist for casualty animals.


Do inspect your stock regularly, and take action when a sick or injured animal is found. It is illegal to leave an unfit animal to suffer untreated.


Do call in your veterinary surgeon if in any doubt, and at an early stage. Your veterinary surgeon will advise whether the animal can be treated or whether humane slaughter is required to prevent it suffering.


What to do if you have an animal in pain or distress        


If an animal is in severe pain, and that pain is uncontrollable, then the animal should be humanely slaughtered as soon as possible.


It is not illegal to slaughter an animal to prevent further severe suffering if a method of humane slaughter is available on the premises and there is someone competent to undertake the task, although it is preferable to have a veterinary surgeon or knackerman destroy the animal. You must be guided by the animal's best interests.


What to do if the animal does not require immediate slaughter     


You must decide if the animal should be transported from the farm, or slaughtered where it is. When making this decision, you must ask yourself two questions:
Guidance on answering each question is given below:


Is the animal likely to be fit for human consumption?


You may consider that the animal is fit for human consumption. It is not necessary to have a veterinary certificate to send a live casualty animal to a slaughterhouse; the owner or person in charge must sign the declaration (example given in Annex A) which must accompany a casualty animal to the slaughterhouse. The final decision on whether the animal should be slaughtered for human consumption will be taken by the veterinary surgeon inspecting the animal at the slaughterhouse.


If an animal has been given medication recently a set time (the withdrawal period) may have to elapse before the animal can be slaughtered for human consumption. Your declaration must show all medication given to an animal in the preceding 28 days. Ask your veterinary surgeon for advice on this subject if the situation arises. Animals must not be kept alive until the withdrawal period has elapsed if this will cause them unnecessary suffering.


A list of conditions which make a carcase and its offal unsuitable for human consumption is given in Annex D of this Guidance.


Is the animal fit to be transported?


The law specifically allows unfit cattle, sheep, goats and pigs to be transported to a slaughterhouse if the animal is not likely to be subjected to unnecessary suffering by reason of its unfitness. It is not possible to list all the conditions, and degrees of conditions, which could lead to unnecessary suffering. If you have any doubts, you should seek the advice of a veterinary surgeon. The key issue when deciding if an animal is to be sent to the slaughterhouse is whether the animal can be transported without being subjected to unnecessary pain or distress.


The questions which you should ask yourself when making the decision whether to transport the animal should include:
(a) Can the animal be loaded without using force?
(b) Can the animal bear weight on all four legs and, if it is likely to stand during the journey, can it do so without pain or distress?
(c) What is the duration of the journey?
(d) What is the nature of the road over which the animal will be transported?
(e) Is the animal's condition going to deteriorate significantly over the time it takes to reach the slaughterhouse?
(f) Is there a slaughterhouse near enough which will accept the animal? (You should send the animal to the nearest available place of slaughter).
(g) Is there a suitable vehicle and driver available?
(h) Can the animal be looked after satisfactorily during the journey?
(i) Can suitable padding or bedding be provided ?

If any of these questions raise doubts about whether the animal can be transported without unnecessary suffering, then you should have the animal slaughtered on the farm.


Other issues to consider


You should seek the advice of your veterinary surgeon, or the veterinarian at the slaughterhouse, if you are not confident of making the correct decision alone. For some injuries, the species of the animal will affect its ability to travel without distress or pain. Tranquillisers or pain killers must never be used when transporting animals to the slaughterhouse.


Remember that it is an offence to 'cause or permit' an animal to be transported in a way which causes or is likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering to the animal. You are therefore responsible for ensuring that the animal is treated in accordance with the law even if the animal is purchased by a haulier who takes it from the farm. You should tell the haulier about the condition of the animal, and have a legal responsibility to discover where, and under what conditions, the animal is being transported. If transportation is likely to cause unnecessary suffering then you should not permit the haulier to transport the animal.


If you arrange transportation of the animal yourself, you should talk to someone in authority at the slaughterhouse (if possible the Official Veterinary Surgeon) and prepare them for the arrival of a casualty animal.


If you use your own vehicle to transport casualty animals, please refer to the 'Advice to Hauliers' section. An animal may be lifted manually into a vehicle if you do not have a ramp available, but this should only be done if the animal can be lifted easily by two people. It is illegal to lift an unfit animal by mechanical means if it is being taken for slaughter.


Remember that casualty animals transported to the slaughterhouse will be inspected upon arrival, and any problems will be communicated to the local authority animal health and welfare inspectors and the Divisional Veterinary Manager.

If you have any doubts about transporting the animal, you should arrange to have it slaughtered on the farm.

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