Animal Health issues livestock transport warning

Animal Health has warned that it has received several reports of heavily pregnant livestock being transported in 2009 and 2010.

Legislation in England, Scotland and Wales, brought in four years ago, states that all farmed livestock species that have given birth in the week prior to transportation, and those in the last 10% of their gestation period, are not fit to travel.

However, a number of producers appear to be flouting those regulations, with all livestocks types being moved while pregnant, Animal Health is reporting.

Animal Health veterinary services manager Paul Honeyman said: “In law, the welfare of pregnant animals is not just a matter for the haulier. Those causing the animals to be transported, the people buying and selling them, could also be responsible.

“Thorough checks of pregnant livestock need to be made before they are allowed to travel in order to prevent unnecessary suffering to the animals and their offspring.”

The government agency is urging transporters and buyers of livestock to check with keepers when animals are due to give birth, or to ask to see records of service dates.

Livestock owners and hauliers are also advised to look for signs that animals may be about to give birth. These include udder enlargement or ‘bagging up’: swelling and relaxation of the vulva; discharge from the birth canal; filling of the teats; relaxation of pelvic ligaments; and behavioural changes.

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