To many farmers, a certificate of competence to transport livestock is just another needless piece of beauracracy. But with it now an EU requirement for all journeys over 40 miles, there is little hiding from it.
With college but a distant memory, I had hoped the need to sit exams and tests was behind me. However, being offered the chance by Mid Kent Training and Field House Assessments to trial the NPTC and City and Guilds’ test for a Certificate of Competence in the Transport of Animals by Road, it was one test I didn’t feel I could miss.
Admittedly, having read the assessment notes, I was just a little daunted by the prospect. Having hauled livestock all over the UK for the last 10 years I was confident I knew the basics but, as always, the devil is in the detail.
For instance, just what is the minimum space allowance for a heavily pregnant sheep or a medium-sized calf? To be frank, I hadn’t a clue and nor I suspected, until reading these notes, did many others.
So arriving at Ashford Market last week to sit the test I was somewhat nervous. I’d spent the morning running through the notes in the hope some knowledge would sink in but, with little idea of what the test would entail, there was an innate fear of failure coursing through my veins.
Having been briefed on what the test would involve – 27 multiple choice questions with a pass mark of 21 – I settled down in front of the computer wondering just what the first question would be. Would I flounder on a simple question like “Which factors will affect an animal’s ability to cope with stress?”, or would I be flummoxed by the more complex, such as calculating a journey time given a series of road speeds and distances?
Thankfully, the first question was tackled simply enough. After all, knowing who was responsible for the animals during transport wasn’t going to tax many. Particularly when the options available included the State Vet Service, the Police and the Highways Agency – picking out the driver/attendant as responsible was an easy break-in.
And while fears may have surrounded the choice of a computer-based test for many older haulage drivers, with the mouse the only piece of equipment needed to complete the test there was a feeling among my fellow guinea pigs that even more antique drivers would be able to complete the test in the maximum allowed 60 minutes.
Answering the 27 questions required was, on the sheep and cattle test, a relatively straightforward task, holding no fear for anyone with a modicum of common sense. Some of the questions required a little thought, but once two or three were under my belt the format was familiar. And with two of the four answers given for each question reasonably ridiculous, applying the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire 50:50 strategy soon meant that picking the right answer from the two remaining was becoming second nature.
So just 20 minutes later I found myself tackling question 27 out of 27 and wondering, as I was finished well ahead of time, whether I’d missed a couple in the middle. A quick review of the test revealed I had indeed answered all the questions and I was fairly confident I’d given it my best shot.
A short time later and my fate was known. I, like everyone else sitting the test last Wednesday, including instructors Chris Smith and Alan West, had passed and more than that, I’d managed a full house of correct answers, something I can’t remember achieving since a spelling test at the age of nine.
Overall, then, this is one test I am more than happy to recommend. The qualification provides a high level of reassurance to the rest of the food chain that those of us involved in livestock production and transport are operating with animal health and welfare at the top of our agenda.
Here are three sample questions:
1.You are undertaking a journey which is 140 miles long. You average 50mph on motorways, 30mph on A roads and 20mph on B roads. The journey comprises 100 miles on motorways, 30 miles on A roads and 10 miles on B roads. How long does the journey take?
A Three hours
B Three and a half hours
C Four hours
D Four and a half hours
2.You are on a journey and on a routine inspection find an ill animal in the load. You are three hours from the point of departure and two hours from your destination. Who do you call for assistance?
A The local vet
B The Police
C The Highways Agency
D The State Vet Service
3.What colour should the inside of a healthy animal’s mouth should be?
B Bright red
*To find your nearest assesment coordinator call NPTC on 0247 685 7300