Heat Stress a Risk for Sheep During Transport Says MAF

24 February 1999

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is warning that hot weather meansa very real risk of heat stress in animals being transported, and is urging farmers andtruck drivers to take steps to minimise the risk for stock to prevent distress and deathsduring the journey.

David Barbour of MAF’s Enforcement Unit says clean drinkable watermust be available for stock at all times leading up to the trip. During the journey,although it may not always be possible, offering water to stock at intervals of two hoursor so may help prevent heat stress and the effort involved may well pay off. Providingwater is much easier if the stock density is low.

Shearing sheep before transportation obviously requires forward planningbut is a wise precaution during spells of hot weather.

Generally transport operators select well-ventilated trucks for long-hauljourneys. By reducing the stocking density they allow more air flow around stock and thishelps prevent heat stress. During the heat of the day they open up all availableventilation, while keeping stock secure.

If trailers are to be parked temporarily while the truck is taken away formore stock, thought should be given to siting the trailer in a place where it will stay inthe shade as the sun moves round.

Whose responsibility is it?

The responsibility for the welfare of stock during transport is shared.The farmer is responsible for the welfare of stock on his farm and for the carefulselection of livestock for loading onto the road vehicle.

Truck drivers are responsible for the care and welfare of the animalswhile they are being transported and until they are discharged. Fortunately mostprofessional truck drivers are aware of their obligations as spelled out in AWAC’sTransport Code. The Transport Code requires that enclosed vehicles must have adequateventilation and that stock are not packed so tightly that ventilation might become aproblem.

Why are sheep particularly at risk of heat stress?

Sheep cannot readily lose heat, especially if they are in full wool. Ifthey get very hot, they may pant, and this allows some heat loss from the breath and byevaporation of saliva from the tongue. They have an increased requirement for water toreplace the fluid lost. If they are crowded together with little ventilation in hotconditions, they soon become stressed, and mouth breathing leads to heat stroke withcollapse and death.

Inquiries to:
David Barbour, MAF Enforcement Unit, PO Box 271, Rangiora.
Cellphone 021-337 128, Fax 03-313 0045.



Last Updated: 10 September 2010

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