Farmers' responsibility to make sure sheep are fit to load

26 May, 2009 02:15 PM
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The Department of Agriculture and Food reminds sheep owners that it is their responsibility to ensure that only animals that are fit to travel are transported.

Department animal welfare project manager Tony Higgs said while the current feed shortage was encouraging owners to reduce numbers, it was important that owners selected and prepared stock for transport carefully, in order to avoid breaching animal welfare codes.

"Transporting animals imposes additional stresses on them, so it is essential that only animals deemed fit are loaded and transported," Dr Higgs said.

"If stock are visibly diseased or injured, unable to keep up with the mob, totally blind, lame or in late pregnancy, they are not considered fit to travel and should not be transported.

"Late pregnant animals are at particular risk of either lambing or aborting in transit or in saleyards.

"In addition, heavily pregnant ewes may suffer from pregnancy toxaemia if feed is withheld for prolonged periods."

Dr Higgs said the current Western Australian welfare code of practice for the transportation of sheep stated that "ewes that are more than four months pregnant must not be transported".

"The department recommends the Meat and Livestock Australia publication Is it fit to load? as an excellent guide to selecting stock for transport. Many producers and transporters have found it useful," he said.

* Copies of Is it fit to load? are available from local department offices or on the MLA website.

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