GROWERS who deliver heavily pregnant ewes to saleyards could be charged with animal cruelty.
With the current feed shortage encouraging owners to reduce their flocks, there has been a rising number of incidents involving producers delivering ewes which have subsequently dropped lambs at various saleyards in the state.
The Agriculture and Food Department has reminded 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 it was important that owners selected and prepared stock for transport carefully, 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.”
Meanwhile, the development of a national code of practice for delivery of livestock is a step closer to reality after the Primary Industries Ministerial Council last week endorsed a draft model.
The Australian Animal Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock aims to replace the existing model codes of practice which apply to each state and territory.
Further industry consultation will occur before the standards are given legislative effect.
The new standards would tighten the rules and definitions for the condition of animals deemed fit for transport.
including stage of pregnancy.