Keeping farmed animals – guidance

Live transport: welfare regulations

Legal controls, staff training requirements and advice to help prevent unnecessary suffering of farm animals during transit.

Introduction

Farmers have a legal responsibility to ensure their animals are transported in a way that won’t cause injury or unnecessary suffering to them.

This guide explains the legal controls in place to protect livestock during transit - including details of how the rules vary according to the distance and duration of journeys, and the species of animal involved.

It also gives guidance on staff training requirements and the different types of documents that may be needed, including certificates of competence, transporter authorisation, Animal Transport Certificates (ATCs) and Journey Logs.

You can also read about getting vehicles approved to transport animals and the additional equipment that may be needed - eg to track vehicles or to monitor the travel conditions for your livestock.

EU regulation on the welfare of animals in transport

When moving animals, you must transport them in a way that won’t cause them injury or unnecessary suffering. European law that governs the welfare of animals during transport applies to anyone who transports live, vertebrate animals in connection with ‘economic activity’ - ie a business or trade - including:

  • farmers
  • livestock and equine hauliers
  • commercial pet breeders
  • markets
  • slaughterhouses
  • assembly centres

While the EU rules apply to all live, vertebrate animals transported for economic reasons, more stringent elements apply to the transport of farmed livestock.

Farmed livestock is made up of:

  • cattle
  • pigs
  • sheep
  • goats
  • domestic equidae - ie horses, ponies, donkeys and mules
  • poultry - ie domestic fowl, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea, fowl, quails, pheasants and partridges

General good practice

To help ensure your animal movements are within the law, the following measures are recommended:

  • plan journeys thoroughly and keep the duration to a minimum
  • ensure the animals are fit to travel and check them regularly
  • ensure vehicle loading and unloading facilities are constructed and maintained to avoid injury and suffering
  • ensure those handling animals are competent and don’t use violence or any methods likely to cause fear, injury or suffering - see the page in this guide on training and competence certification for animal transporters
  • provide sufficient floor space and height allowance
  • provide water, feed and rest as needed

For advice relating to maximum journey times, rest periods, space allowances etc, see the page in this guide on species-specific rules for welfare during transportation.

Fitness for travel

It is illegal to transport an animal that’s considered unfit for travel. This includes:

  • very young animals, eg calves less than ten days old, pigs less than three weeks and lambs less than one week
  • calves less than 14 days old, for journeys over eight hours
  • cervine animals in velvet, ie deer with newly growing antlers
  • puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old, unless accompanied by their mother
  • new-born mammals where the navel hasn’t completely healed
  • heavily pregnant females - where more than 90 per cent of the expected gestation period has passed - unless they are being transported for veterinary treatment
  • females who have given birth during the previous seven days
  • sick or injured animals where moving them would cause additional suffering, unless instructed by a vet
  • shorn sheep during cold weather - particularly November to March - see the page in this guide on transporting animals in extreme temperatures

Enforcement

Local authorities have primary responsibility for enforcing the rules to protect animals during transportation. Veterinary inspectors from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) also have powers to ensure transporters are following the rules.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) collects information about any transporters caught breaking the law from local authorities, the AHVLA and authorities abroad. This information is used when deciding whether to grant, suspend or cancel transporter authorisation. See the next section of this guide for information on animal transportation documents.

How the rules vary depending on journey length or duration

Welfare during transport rules require all journeys to be logged (date, time, duration etc). For journeys up to eight hours involving any species of animal as part of an economic activity, you must have an ATC or similar document. However, if a journey is over eight hours and involves dispatching and exporting farm livestock or unregistered domestic equidae to another country, a Journey Log is needed instead. If you are a farmer transporting your own animals under 50 kilometres, then you are exempt from ATC requirements.

See the page in this guide on animal transportation documents. For details of specific requirements for journeys involving horses, ponies and other domestic equines, see the page in this guide on species-specific rules for welfare during transportation.

Journeys less than 65 kilometres

If you’re transporting animals for less than 65 kilometres (about 40 miles), it’s not necessary for vehicles to be authorised or for drivers/handlers to hold certificates of competence. However, an ATC is required and your drivers and handlers must have had some form of relevant training. See the page in this guide on training and competence certification for animal transporters in this guide.

Journeys over 65 kilometres and under eight hours

If your business transports livestock further than 65 kilometres where total journey times are less than eight hours, you must hold:

  • a valid transporter authorisation for short journeys - see the page on animal transportation documents in this guide
  • valid certificates of competence for drivers and handlers - see the page on training and competence certification for animal transporters in this guide

Journeys over eight hours

If your business transports livestock for journeys totalling more than eight hours, you must hold:

  • a valid transporter authorisation for long journeys - see the page in this guide on animal transportation documents
  • valid certificates of competence for drivers and handlers - see the page in this guide on training and competence certification
  • valid vehicle/container approval certificates - see the page in this guide on the inspection and approval of animal transportation vehicles

For certain long journeys, it’s also a legal requirement for the vehicle to have satellite navigation and a tracking system. See the page in this guide on inspection and approval of animal transportation vehicles.

Training and competence certification for animal transporters

Individual drivers or handlers responsible for transporting farmed vertebrate animals must have had some form of training on the relevant animal welfare rules. The type of training required varies according to the distances, journey durations and species involved.

Training for journeys less than 65 kilometres

If journeys are less than 65 kilometres (about 40 miles), the training doesn’t have to involve a formal qualification. It’s acceptable for skills to be gained through a combination of on-the-job instruction and practical experience. Training should cover:

  • fitness for travel
  • means of transport and use of its facilities
  • loading, unloading and handling
  • watering and feeding intervals
  • journey times and rest periods
  • space allowances
  • documentation

Certificates of competence for journeys over 65 kilometres

Drivers or attendants responsible for transporting farmed cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and domestic equidae over 65 kilometres must hold a relevant certificate of competence. These are independently assessed qualifications specific to the person’s role - ie driver or attendant. The species and duration of journeys involved is also a factor in the qualification. The person taking the qualification can include:

  • those involved in journeys of under eight hours (they can be assessed by a theory test)
  • those involved in journeys over eight hours (they must also pass a practical assessment)

Defra has authorised several independent organisations to carry out assessments and award certificates.

Inspection and approval of animal transportation vehicles

Vehicle inspection and approval is a legal requirement where journeys are over eight hours and involve transporting the following species of farm animals:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • goats
  • unregistered domestic equidae

Inspection and approval requirements also extend to containers used to transport vertebrate animals.

Additionally, you must have your vehicle inspected and approved to transport other species (not listed above) of vertebrate animals if either of the following apply:

  • the journey will exceed eight hours and pass through and/or deliver to an EU country where valid approval certificates are a requirement
  • the journey will exceed 12 hours

Satellite navigation and tracking systems

Vehicles used to transport cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and unregistered domestic equidae on long journeys must be equipped with a satellite navigation tracking system. In the UK, this legal requirement currently applies to:

  • export/dispatch journeys that exceed eight hours
  • journeys that exceed 12 hours

The main purpose of these systems is so that enforcement officers can check that your written Journey Log is accurate and legal. The system installed must be able to record the same information and also whether or not the tailgate or loading flaps are open or closed.

A designated vehicle approval certifying body can advise you on how to get suitable equipment.

Ventilation and temperature monitoring

Vehicles used to transport cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and domestic equidae for export journeys over eight hours or journeys over 12 hours must have special ventilation and temperature monitoring equipment. The functionality of this equipment must include:

  • sensors to monitor and record the temperature within the animal compartment, positioned where conditions are likely to be worst
  • the ability to maintain the temperature within the animal compartment between 5°C and 30°C (+/- 5°C)
  • a warning system to alert the driver if the temperature in the animal compartment reaches the maximum or minimum limit
  • a ventilation system with a minimum airflow of nominal capacity of 60 cubic metres per hour per kilo Newton of payload that can operate independently of the vehicle engine for at least four hours

Animal transportation documents

You must have a valid transporter authorisation if your business transports vertebrate animals on journeys longer than 65 kilometres (about 40 miles). The type of authorisation you need depends on the total duration of your journeys.

Download Defra’s information about transporter authorisation from the Agricultural Document Library (ADLib) (PDF, 87KB).

Journeys over 65 kilometres and under eight hours

If your livestock’s journey time will be under eight hours (defined as a short journey), you only need Type 1 transporter authorisation. This authorisation - which is valid for a maximum of five years - will be granted if you:

  • have an established or representative business in the UK
  • can show you have the staff, equipment and procedures in place to meet the rules for animal welfare during transport
  • have no record of a serious animal welfare conviction or Home Office Simple Caution in the three years leading up to your application
  • have valid certificates of competence for drivers and handlers if required - see the page in this guide on training and competence certification for animal transporters

Journeys over eight hours

If your livestock’s journey times will exceed eight hours (defined as a long journey), you must have Type 2 transporter authorisation. This authorisation is also valid for five years. In addition to the above requirements, you will also need to provide:

  • valid vehicle/container approval certificates if required - see the page in this guide on the inspection and approval of animal transportation vehicles
  • details of procedures enabling you to trace and record the movement of road vehicles under your responsibility, and to contact the driver at any time
  • details of contingency plans in the event of an emergency

Animal Transport Certificates

An ATC, or similar document, must be completed when transporting any species of animals as part of a business, unless the journey is:

  • over eight hours and involves dispatching/exporting specified farm livestock or unregistered domestic equidae to another country, in which case a Journey Log is needed instead
  • under 50 kilometres (about 31.25 miles), and involves transporting your own animals from your own farm holding using your own vehicle

For convenience, Defra have produced a template form that you can use, but any other document which records the required information is acceptable, eg an Animal Movement Licence. You must record the following information:

  • origin and ownership of animals
  • place of departure and destination
  • date and time of departure
  • expected duration of journey

This information must be kept for six months after the journey is complete and made available to an inspector if requested.

Journey Logs

If you wish to transport the species below to another country on journeys over eight hours, you must complete a Journey Log - part of which needs to be submitted and approved before the journey can begin. The species are:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • goats
  • pigs
  • unregistered domestic equidae

The purpose of a Journey Log is to ensure such journeys are properly planned, with the required rest stops along the way, and without exceeding maximum journey times.

You need to submit the first section of your Journey Log to the AHVLA Office where the journey will begin. A copy of the completed log must be submitted to the same office within a month of the journey’s completion.

For contact details of your local AHVLA Office use the postcode search tool on the Defra website.

Transporting animals in extreme temperatures

Your legal obligation to protect your livestock from unnecessary suffering includes that caused by extreme temperatures. Farm animals should have adequate shelter and protection, as defined by the law and the relevant welfare code for that species.

You should have emergency contingency plans in place for every journey. Bear in mind that a delay which would be relatively insignificant under normal conditions can quickly become critical in extreme temperatures.

Hot weather

High temperature and humidity can pose a major threat to animal welfare, especially when conditions change suddenly. It is therefore important that animals have access to shade and water, and are regularly inspected.

When transporting livestock, you should take appropriate measures to help you avoid problems in hot weather. These measures can include:

  • factoring potential weather conditions into your journey plan, eg not loading or moving animals during the hottest part of the day
  • improving ventilation of the vehicle
  • increasing space allowances
  • providing water and electrolytes more frequently

Cold weather

Newly shorn sheep are one of the livestock species most at risk of unnecessary suffering during transportation in cold weather. Any sheep transported in the colder months from 1 November to 31 March must have a staple growth of at least 7 millimetres and must not have been shorn within 24 hours of the start of the journey.

Download Defra’s advice on transporting shorn sheep in cold weather from the ADLib website (PDF, 92KB).

Species-specific rules for welfare during transportation

Advice for ensuring you don’t cause any injury or unnecessary suffering to your livestock can vary according to the species of animal involved. This is due to differences such as age, size, physical characteristics and gestation periods.

Defra has published species-specific guidance which supplements the general rules.

Horses, ponies and other domestic equines

Rules for transporting horses and ponies vary depending on whether the animal is registered or unregistered. A registered horse or pony is one that’s on the stud book of a recognised breed society or registered with an international organisation that manages equestrian competitions. You should note that an equine is not classed as ‘registered’ simply because it holds a horse passport.

Registered horses are exempt from many of the major controls on horse transportation, including maximum journey times, rest periods and Journey Logs. Other welfare rules specific to transporting horses, ponies and other domestic equines include those for:

  • using halters during transit
  • providing individual stalls
  • using multi-deck vehicles
  • maximum journey times and rest periods
  • transporting unbroken horses
  • transporting foals
  • transporting pregnant mares or any which have recently given birth
  • ramp angles for loading and unloading
  • separation
  • space allowances
  • vehicle temperature

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting horses and ponies from the ADLib website (PDF, 180KB).

Cattle

Welfare rules specific to transporting cattle include those for:

  • maximum journey times and rest periods
  • transporting calves
  • transporting pregnant cows or any which have recently given birth
  • ramp angles for loading and unloading
  • separation
  • space allowances
  • vehicle temperature
  • milking cows

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting cattle from the ADLib website (PDF, 161KB).

Pigs

Welfare rules specific to transporting pigs include those for:

  • maximum journey times and rest periods
  • transporting piglets and weaners
  • transporting pregnant sows or any that have recently given birth
  • ramp angles for loading and unloading
  • separation
  • space allowances
  • vehicle temperature

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting pigs from the ADLib website (PDF, 166KB).

Sheep

Welfare rules specific to transporting sheep include those for:

  • maximum journey times and rest periods
  • transporting lambs
  • transporting pregnant ewes or any that have recently given birth
  • ramp angles for loading and unloading
  • separation
  • space allowances
  • vehicle temperature
  • milking ewes

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting sheep from the ADLib website (PDF, 164KB).

Goats

Welfare rules specific to transporting goats include those for:

  • maximum journey times and rest periods
  • transporting kids
  • transporting pregnant nannies or any which have recently given birth
  • separation
  • space allowances
  • vehicle temperature
  • milking nannies

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting goats from the ADLib website (PDF, 170KB).

Poultry

Welfare rules specific to transporting poultry include those for:

  • assessing fitness to travel before crating and loading
  • provision of food and water
  • space allowances
  • welfare responsibility while loaded

Download Defra’s welfare guidance on transporting poultry from the ADLib website (PDF, 173KB).

Further information on farm animal welfare during transportation

Below are details of organisations that can offer advice on protecting the welfare of your livestock during transportation.

One of Defra’s major roles is to help the farming industry operate as efficiently as possible. Defra administers European Commission support policies that provide around £3 billion to UK agriculture. They also oversee a number of agencies that work with arable farmers, imports and exports of crops, and implement pest and disease controls. You can call the Defra helpline on 08459 33 55 77 for further information.

The RPA (Rural Payments Agency) is responsible for licences and schemes for growers as well as for running the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). For more information about the SPS and how it can help your farming business, you can call the RPA Helpline on 0845 603 7777.

You can also read our guide on the SPS.

In England, the Farm Advisory System advises farmers about cross compliance. For further information you can call the Cross Compliance Helpline on 0845 345 1302, or alternatively, you can visit their website

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) represents the farmers and growers of England and Wales. It aims to promote successful and socially responsible agriculture and horticulture, while ensuring the long-term viability of rural communities.

You can read about the work of the NFU on their website.

Farmers are likely to come into contact with local authorities over a number of farming, land use, food standards and environmental regulations. Your local authority may also be able to provide further information or resources.

Legislation

Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations sets out minimum standards for the welfare of animals during transport. The Regulation applies to the transport of all live vertebrate animals for the purposes of economic activity ie a business or trade and is implemented in England by The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 and by parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The transport of animals to and from markets, to slaughter, and particularly on export journeys, is a matter of some public concern. Government recognises this and ensures that the welfare of animals is protected during transport in line with compulsory EU legislation, as implemented by domestic legislation in England and the Devolved Administrations.

The Government is often urged to ban the exports of live animals for slaughter or further fattening. We would prefer to see meat (or germ plasm) exported rather than live animals, since animals would not be subjected to long periods in transit. But the clear legal position, confirmed by two past judgements of the European Court, is that this is a legitimate trade within the European Community and that restricting it or banning it could not be defended in law. Our policy is therefore to ensure full application of the EU rules on our territory, and, importantly, to encourage other member states to do the same.

Documentation renewal

Regulation 1/2005 requires those transporting animals in connection with an economic activity i.e. a business or trade, to be in possession of, inter alia, a transporter authorisation and, where appropriate, a certificate of vehicle approval. These documents have a maximum lifecycle of five years.

Review of Regulation 1/2005

The Regulation includes a provision for a review of its impact to be carried out within four years of it coming into force i.e. January 2011. The European Commission’s report on its review of the Regulation was published on 10 November 2011. The report and accompanying documentation can be found on the Commission’s website.

As expected, the report is purely factual and does not contain any proposals for legislative change. It concludes that the Regulation has had a beneficial impact on the welfare of animals during transport, however, it also acknowledges that ‘severe animal welfare problems during transport persist’. The Commission’s proposed solution to these problems involves adopting new implementing rules concerning satellite tracking systems; an increase in the number of inspections (where needed) to improve existing controls; better reporting on compliance by Member States; a study into the welfare of fish during transport; increased co-operation and communication between the competent authorities and NGOs, and, most crucially, the dissemination of Commission guidance on the interpretation of the Regulation and development of guides to good practice, which would help implement the latest scientific findings identified by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in its own report issued in December 2010.

Key publications

The publications on this page aim to supplement the legislation by clarifying some of the requirements and also by setting down the best practice to be observed.

These are living documents that will develop in light of experience implementing the Regulation. Please send any comments to: aw-transport@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Advice for transporters on the transport of:

Animals travelling by air

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets out the requirements for transporting animals by air. Information on air transport and container requirements can be found on the IATA website. Information on container requirements can be found under the IATA website on live animal regulations.

Further Information

Download Defra’s animal welfare in transport guidance from the ADLib website (PDF, 170KB)

Download Defra’s transporter authorisation information from the ADLib website (PDF, 87KB)

Download hot weather animal transportation advice from the Defra website (PDF, 139KB)

Download Defra’s cold weather sheep transportation advice from the ADLib website (PDF, 92KB)

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting horses and ponies from the ADLib website (PDF, 180KB)

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting cattle from the ADLib website (PDF, 161KB)

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting pigs from the ADLib website (PDF, 166KB)

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting sheep from the ADLib website (PDF, 164KB)

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting goats from the ADLib website (PDF, 170KB)

Download Defra’s welfare guidance for transporting poultry from the ADLib website (PDF, 173KB)

Cross compliance information on the Cross Compliance website

Farming advice on the NFU website

RPA Helpline

0845 603 7777

Cross Compliance Helpline

0845 345 1302

Defra Helpline

08459 33 55 77