IF you’ve got farm animals to transport, make sure they aren’t sick, injured, lame or heavily pregnant. If they are, you could be in breach of new animal welfare regulations that came into force last year.

To help people become familiar with the new legislation, the Ministry for Primary Industries has developed a free phone app called Fit For Transport that details travel requirements for different categories of animals: cows, calves, sheep, deer and pigs.

The purpose of the app is to provide guidance for transporters, farmers and everyone across the supply chain when determining if livestock is fit for transport.

Topics covered include injuries during transport, back rub, lameness, mastitis and udders, late pregnancy, eyes, horns, injuries and defects, poor body condition, antlers and velvetting, and young bobby calves.

Restrictions on the use of prodders are detailed, as well as advice for standing animals off green feed and preventing downer cows.

Ministry veterinarian and director of animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell says, “Don’t take the risk with unfit stock – it’s not good for the animal and if they don’t arrive in acceptable condition you could end up with no return and a fine of $500.”

In June this year, Radio New Zealand reported that vets at meat works had spotted 431 offences over the preceeding eight months. They included lameness, mastitis, cows giving birth in slaughter house pens, cows with cancer in their eyes and sheep with ingrowing horns digging into their faces.

According to the ministry’s acting compliance manager Gary Orr, “All of these things are either preventable, as in the case with pregnant cows, or treatable, and as such none of those animals should be put on the truck until they’re treated or can be euthanised on the farm if they’re untreatable”.

The new legislation allows the ministry to issue fines to farmers and transport providers for low-level offending instead of a full prosecution process.

The Fit For Transport app is available as a free download from iTunes or Google Play. The app is designed to work on smartphones and tablets while offline.

If there is any doubt about whether any animal is fit to be transported, a vet should be consulted. If your animals are too tall for a standard truck, or have horns or antlers, tell your stock agent and transport provider so the journey can be planned appropriately.

Members of the public who have concerns about the welfare of farm animals can call the ministry’s animal welfare line, 0800 008333.

More information on the new transport regulations can be found online at www.mpi.govt.nz.

  • Carey Conn is a volunteer at SPCA Kawerau Centre

Animal welfare by Carey Conn