Construction of livestock transport vehicles
It is a requirement that vehicles which transport animals must be designed, constructed, maintained and operated to avoid injury, suffering, and ensure the safety of the animals transported in them. Requirements apply to transport of animals by road, rail, vessels and aircraft.
The legislation applies to persons who transport live vertebrate animals, which includes farm livestock (cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, deer, and horses), in connection with an economic activity (in other words a business or trade).
In the guide
The welfare of animals during transport is protected by EU Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. This is brought into law in England by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006. The law requires that vehicles and loading and unloading facilities shall be designed, constructed, maintained and operated so as to:
- avoid injury and suffering, and to ensure the safety of the animals
- protect the animals from inclement weather, extreme temperatures and adverse changes in climate conditions
- be cleansed and disinfected
- prevent the animals escaping or falling out and be able to withstand the stresses of movements
- provide barriers to prevent falling when loading or unloading
- ensure that air quality and quantity appropriate to the species transported can be maintained
- provide access to the animals to allow them to be inspected and cared for
- present a flooring surface that is anti-slip
- present a flooring surface that minimise the leakage of urine or faeces
- provide a means of lighting sufficient for inspection and care of the animals during transport and during loading and unloading
Sufficient space shall be provided inside the animals' compartment and at each of its levels to ensure that there is adequate ventilation above the animals when they are in a naturally standing position, without on any account hindering their natural movement.
Sufficient ventilation shall be provided to ensure that the needs of the animals are fully met.
Partitions shall be used where necessary to provide support, or to prevent animals being thrown about, and when used shall be positioned to prevent injury or unnecessary suffering. They should be of rigid construction, strong enough to withstand animal weight, and constructed and positioned so as not to interfere with ventilation. They should have fittings designed for quick and easy operation.
Signs shall be clearly and visibly marked, indicating the presence of live animals.
Vehicles will carry suitable equipment for loading and unloading.
Ramps shall not be steeper than an angle of 20 degrees, that is 36,4% to the horizontal for pigs, calves and horses and an angle of 26 degrees, that is 50% to the horizontal for sheep and cattle other than calves.
Where the slope is steeper than 10 degrees, that is 17,6% to the horizontal, ramps shall be fitted with a system such as provided by foot battens, which ensure that the animals climb or go down without risks or difficulties.
Lifting platforms and upper floors shall have safety barriers so as to prevent animals falling or escaping during loading and unloading operations.
Suitable provision shall be made so that animals may be tied to the interior of the vehicle. However, animals shall not be tied by the horns or by nose ring - ropes or other attachments shall be sufficiently strong not to break, designed to eliminate danger of strangulation or injury and shall be long enough to allow the animal, if necessary, to lie down and to eat and drink. Fittings should be quick release.
Additional requirements apply to vehicles transporting livestock for over eight hours. Such vehicles must also be inspected and approved by a body approved by the competent authority (a list of certifying bodies in the vehicle inspection and approval scheme is available from Defra).
Further construction requirements also apply to means of animal transport by air, in containers, livestock vessels and vessels transporting sea containers. More information on welfare during transport is available from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA).
Any person who contravenes the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 commits an offence against the Animal Health Act 1981, and can receive a fine of up to £5,000 per offence and/or six months' imprisonment on summary conviction.
This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. Please contact us for further information.
Animal Health Act 1981
EU Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations
Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006
Last reviewed/updated: April 2013
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