Farmers and hauliers are reminded by the Department of Agricluture and Rural Development Northern Ireland to take extra care to protect any livestock when transporting them during warm weather.
Exposure to high temperatures and humidity is a major threat to animal welfare during transport and poses a serious risk during the summer months. Failure to take account of high temperatures when planning journeys and a lack of adequate contingency plans can cause suffering to animals.
There are steps required to avoid unnecessary suffering of animals during transportation:
• Avoiding excessive disturbance to stock during loading, carriage and unloading;
• Inspecting the animals more frequently for signs of heat stress;
• Providing water or electrolyte solutions more frequently;
• Avoiding penning animals in the hotter parts of the vehicle, these are located at the front end and higher levels of the vehicle;
• Increasing the space allowance for the animals by at least 30%;
• Increasing headroom above the animals to maximise air movement and increase the potential for heat exchange; removing tiers and folding decks where possible;
• Avoiding travelling in the hotter parts of the day by planning the journey to take advantage of cooler conditions at night;
• Spraying the vehicle with water to cool it down;
• Parking in the shade whenever possible, ideally with the vehicle positioned perpendicular to any prevailing wind;
• Using a vehicle with a light-coloured roof to reduce the effects of solar gain (mandatory for vehicles transporting animals on journeys longer than eight hours).
Contingency plans should be in place for every journey, and are particularly important in hot conditions as delays, which might be relatively insignificant under normal conditions, can become critical quickly. Drivers should be able to recognise signs of heat stress and take appropriate action.