Transport & Handling
Understanding the basic principles of operating safely and effectively when working with dairy cattle is critically important to the wellbeing of both staff and animals on farm.
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport of Livestock outlines requirements, or ‘must-do’ measures, and advice on best practice, or ‘should-do’ measures, to ensure animals are well looked after during transport. These standards and guidelines are the bare minimum of animal care expected by the dairy industry and state governments.
All dairy farmers must be aware of, and adhere to, land transport standards when transporting livestock in Australia, including dairy cattle and bobby calves. Livestock owners, operators and receivers, must comply with laws which specify requirements for 'fit to load', vehicles and facilities, time off water, journey time and more. The standards ensure livestock are handled, loaded and unloaded, and transported in a manner which minimises risks to their welfare.
Compliance with land transport standards will result in good animal welfare outcomes and increased consumer confidence. Key principles to remember when transporting animals are:
- If in doubt, leave the animal out.
- Choose the shortest journey for the animal – e.g. send cull cows and calves direct to abattoir rather than via sale yards if possible.
- Milk lactating cattle directly before transporting.
- When transporting calves, provide shelter and soft surfaces for them to lie down.
- Only calves over five days of age should be sold for slaughter.
Understanding natural cow behaviour is both fascinating and rewarding. A greater appreciation of how cows perceive the world around them and their likely reaction to various situations, helps identify how best to work with them.
Not only does good stock handling boost animal health and welfare, it also ensures the safety and wellbeing of those around them on-farm. For this reason, it is vital all staff understand their role in effectively working with livestock to reduce stress on cows and people.