Terrestrial Animal Health Code

Contents | Index Chapter 7.2. SECTION 7. Chapter 7.4.

Chapter 7.3.

Transport of animals by land

Preamble: These recommendations apply to the following live domesticated animals: cattle, buffaloes, camels, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and equines. They will also be largely applicable to some other animals, e.g. deer, other camelids and ratites. Wild animals and feral animals may need different conditions.

Article 7.3.1.

The amount of time animals spend on a journey should be kept to the minimum.

Article 7.3.2.

  1. Animal behaviour

    Animal handlers should be experienced and competent in handling and moving farm livestock and understand the behaviour patterns of animals and the underlying principles necessary to carry out their tasks.


    The behaviour of individual animals or groups of animals will vary depending on their breed, sex, temperament and age and the way in which they have been reared and handled. Despite these differences, the following behaviour patterns, which are always present to some degree in domestic animals, should be taken into consideration in handling and moving the animals.


    Most domestic livestock are kept in groups and follow a leader by instinct.

    Animals which are likely to harm each other in a group situation should not be mixed.

    The desire of some animals to control their personal space should be taken into account in designing loading and unloading facilities, transport vessels and containers.

    Domestic animals will try to escape if any person approaches closer than a certain distance. This critical distance, which defines the flight zone, varies among species and individuals of the same species, and depends upon previous contact with humans. Animals reared in close proximity to humans (i.e. tame) have a smaller flight zone, whereas those kept in free range or extensive systems may have flight zones which may vary from one metre to many metres. Animal handlers should avoid sudden penetration of the flight zone which may cause a panic reaction which could lead to aggression or attempted escape and compromise the welfare of the animals.

    Animal handlers should use the point of balance at the animal’s shoulder to move animals, adopting a position behind the point of balance to move an animal forward and in front of the point of balance to move it backward.

    Domestic animals have a wide-angle vision but only have a limited forward binocular vision and poor perception of depth. This means that they can detect objects and movements beside and behind them, but can only judge distances directly ahead.

    Although domestic animals have a highly sensitive sense of smell, they may react differently to the smells encountered during travel. Smells which cause negative responses should be taken into consideration when managing animals.

    Domestic animals can hear over a greater range of frequencies than humans and are more sensitive to higher frequencies. They tend to be alarmed by constant loud noises and by sudden noises, which may cause them to panic. Sensitivity to such noises should also be taken into account when handling animals.

  1. Distractions and their removal

    Design of new loading and unloading facilities or modification of existing facilities should aim to minimise the potential for distractions that may cause approaching animals to stop, baulk or turn back. Below are examples of common distractions and methods for eliminating them:

    1. reflections on shiny metal or wet floors – move a lamp or change lighting;

    2. dark entrances – illuminate with indirect lighting which does not shine directly into the eyes of approaching animals;

    3. animals seeing moving people or equipment up ahead  – install solid sides on chutes and races or install shields;

    4. dead ends – avoid if possible by curving the passage, or make an illusory passage;

    5. chains or other loose objects hanging in chutes or on fences – remove them;

    6. uneven floors or a sudden drop in floor levels – avoid uneven floor surfaces or install a solid false floor to provide an illusion of a solid and continuous walking surface;

    7. sounds of air hissing from pneumatic equipment – install silencers or use hydraulic equipment or vent high pressure to the external environment using flexible hosing;

    8. clanging and banging of metal objects – install rubber stops on gates and other devices to reduce metal to metal contact;

    9. air currents from fans or air curtains blowing into the face of animals – redirect or reposition equipment.

An example of a flight zone (cattle)



Handler movement pattern to move cattle forward


Article 7.3.3.


Once the decision to transport the animals has been made, the welfare of the animals during their journey is the paramount consideration and is the joint responsibility of all people involved. The individual responsibilities of persons involved will be described in more detail in this article.

The roles of each of those responsible are defined below:

  1. The owners and managers of the animals are responsible for:

    1. the general health, overall welfare and fitness of the animals for the journey;

    2. ensuring compliance with any required veterinary or other certification;

    3. the presence of an animal handler competent for the species being transported during the journey with the authority to take prompt action; in case of transport by individual trucks, the truck driver may be the sole animal handler during the journey;

    4. the presence of an adequate number of animal handlers during loading and unloading;

    5. ensuring that equipment and veterinary assistance are provided as appropriate for the species and the journey.

  2. Business agents or buying/selling agents are responsible for:

    1. selection of animals that are fit to travel;

    2. availability of suitable facilities at the start and at the end of the journey for the assembly; loading, transport, unloading and holding of animals, including for any stops at resting points during the journey and for emergencies.

  3. Animal handlers are responsible for the humane handling and care of the animals, especially during loading and unloading, and for maintaining a journey log. To carry out their responsibilities, they should have the authority to take prompt action. In the absence of a separate animal handler, the driver is the animal handler.

  4. Transport companies, vehicle owners and drivers are responsible for planning the journey to ensure the care of the animals; in particular they are responsible for:

    1. choosing appropriate vehicles for the species transported and the journey;

    2. ensuring that properly trained staff are available for loading/unloading of animals;

    3. ensuring adequate competency of the driver in matters of animal welfare for the species being transported in case a separate animal handler is not assigned to the truck;

    4. developing and keeping up-to-date contingency plans to address emergencies (including adverse weather conditions) and minimise stress during transport;

    5. producing a journey plan which includes a loading plan, journey duration, itinerary and location of resting places;

    6. loading only those animals which are fit to travel, for their correct loading into the vehicle and their inspection during the journey, and for appropriate responses to problems arising; if its fitness to travel is in doubt, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian in accordance with point 3 a) of Article 7.3.7.;

    7. welfare of the animals during the actual transport.

  5. Managers of facilities at the start and at the end of the journey and at resting points are responsible for:

    1. providing suitable premises for loading, unloading and securely holding the animals, with water and feed when required, and with protection from adverse weather conditions until further transport, sale or other use (including rearing or slaughter);

    2. providing an adequate number of animal handlers to load, unload, drive and hold animals in a manner that causes minimum stress and injury; in the absence of a separate animal handler, the driver is the animal handler;

    3. minimising the opportunities for disease transmission;

    4. providing appropriate facilities, with water and feed when required;

    5. providing appropriate facilities for emergencies;

    6. providing facilities for washing and disinfecting vehicles after unloading;

    7. providing facilities and competent staff to allow the humane killing of animals when required;

    8. ensuring proper rest times and minimal delay during stops.

  6. The responsibilities of Competent Authorities include:

    1. establishing minimum standards for animal welfare, including requirements for inspection of animals before, during and after their travel, defining ‘fitness to travel’ and appropriate certification and record keeping;

    2. setting standards for facilities, containers and vehicles for the transport of animals;

    3. setting standards for the competence of animal handlers, drivers and managers of facilities in relevant issues in animal welfare;

    4. ensuring appropriate awareness and training of animal handlers, drivers and managers of facilities in relevant issues in animal welfare;

    5. implementation of the standards, including through accreditation of / interaction with other organisations;

    6. monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of standards of health and other aspects of welfare;

    7. monitoring and evaluating the use of veterinary medications;

    8. giving animal consignments priority at frontiers in order to allow them to pass without unnecessary delay.

  7. All individuals, including veterinarians, involved in transporting animals and the associated handling procedures should receive appropriate training and be competent to meet their responsibilities.

  8. The receiving Competent Authority should report back to the sending Competent Authority on significant animal welfare problems which occurred during the journey.

Article 7.3.4.


  1. All people responsible for animals during journeys should be competent in accordance with their responsibilities listed in Article 7.3.3. Competence may be gained through formal training and/or practical experience.

  2. The assessment of the competence of animal handlers should at a minimum address knowledge, and ability to apply that knowledge, in the following areas:

    1. planning a journey, including appropriate space allowance, and feed, water and ventilation requirements;

    2. responsibilities for animals during the journey, including loading and unloading;

    3. sources of advice and assistance;

    4. animal behaviour, general signs of disease, and indicators of poor animal welfare such as stress, pain and fatigue, and their alleviation;

    5. assessment of fitness to travel; if fitness to travel is in doubt, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian;

    6. relevant authorities and applicable transport regulations, and associated documentation requirements;

    7. general disease prevention procedures, including cleaning and disinfection;

    8. appropriate methods of animal handling during transport and associated activities such as assembling, loading and unloading;

    9. methods of inspecting animals, managing situations frequently encountered during transport such as adverse weather conditions, and dealing with emergencies, including humane killing;

    10. species-specific aspects and age-specific aspects of animal handling and care, including feeding, watering and inspection; and

    11. maintaining a journey log and other records.

Article 7.3.5.

Planning the journey

  1. General considerations

    1. Adequate planning is a key factor affecting the welfare of animals during a journey.

    2. Before the journey starts, plans should be made in relation to:

      1. preparation of animals for the journey;

      2. choice of road, rail, roll-on roll-off vessels or containers;

      3. nature and duration of the journey;

      4. vehicle design and maintenance, including roll-on roll-off vessels;

      5. required documentation;

      6. space allowance;

      7. rest, water and feed;

      8. observation of animals en route;

      9. control of disease;

      10. emergency response procedures;

      11. forecast weather conditions (e.g. conditions being too hot or too cold to travel during certain periods of the day);

      12. transfer time when changing mode of transport, and

      13. waiting time at frontiers and inspection points.

    3. Regulations concerning drivers (for example, maximum driving periods) should take into account animal welfare whenever possible.

  2. Preparation of animals for the journey

    1. When animals are to be provided with a novel diet or method of water provision during transport, an adequate period of adaptation should be planned. For all animals it is essential that the rest stops during long journeys are long enough to fulfil each animal’s need for feed and water. Species-specific short period of feed deprivation prior to loading may be desirable.

    2. Animals more accustomed to contact with humans and with being handled are likely to be less fearful of being loaded and transported. Animal handlers should handle and load animals in a manner that reduces their fearfulness and improves their approachability.

    3. Behaviour-modifying compounds (such as tranquillisers) or other medication should not be used routinely during transport. Such compounds should only be administered when a problem exists in an individual animal, and should be administered by a veterinarian or other person who has been instructed in their use by a veterinarian.

  3. Nature and duration of the journey

    The maximum duration of a journey should be determined in accordance with factors such as:

    1. the ability of the animals to cope with the stress of transport (such as very young, old, lactating or pregnant animals);

    2. the previous transport experience of the animals;

    3. the likely onset of fatigue;

    4. the need for special attention;

    5. the need for feed and water;

    6. the increased susceptibility to injury and disease;

    7. space allowance, vehicle design, road conditions and driving quality;

    8. weather conditions;

    9. vehicle type used, terrain to be traversed, road surfaces and quality, skill and experience of the driver.

  4. Vehicle and container design and maintenance

    1. Vehicles and containers used for the transport of animals should be designed, constructed and fitted as appropriate for the species, size and weight of the animals to be transported. Special attention should be paid to avoid injury to animals through the use of secure smooth fittings free from sharp protrusions. The avoidance of injury to drivers and animal handlers while carrying out their responsibilities should be emphasised.

    2. Vehicles and containers should be designed with the structures necessary to provide protection from adverse weather conditions and to minimise the opportunity for animals to escape.

    3. In order to minimise the likelihood of the spread of infectious disease during transport, vehicles and containers should be designed to permit thorough cleaning and disinfection, and the containment of faeces and urine during a journey.

    4. Vehicles and containers should be maintained in good mechanical and structural condition.

    5. Vehicles and containers should have adequate ventilation to meet variations in climate and the thermo-regulatory needs of the animal species being transported; the ventilation system (natural or mechanical) should be effective when the vehicle is stationary, and the airflow should be adjustable.

    6. Vehicles should be designed so that the faeces or urine from animals on upper levels do not soil animals on lower levels, nor their feed and water. This condition is not applicable for poultry. They are generally transported in plastic crates which are designed to let air flow through in all directions to obtain a better ventilation.

    7. When vehicles are carried on board ferries, facilities for adequately securing them should be available.

    8. If feeding or watering while the vehicle is moving is required, adequate facilities on the vehicle should be available.

    9. When appropriate, suitable bedding should be added to vehicle floors to assist absorption of urine and faeces, to minimise slipping by animals, and protect animals (especially young animals) from hard flooring surfaces and adverse weather conditions.

  5. Special provisions for transport in vehicles (road and rail) on roll-on/roll-off vessels or for containers

    1. Vehicles and containers should be equipped with a sufficient number of adequately designed, positioned and maintained securing points enabling them to be securely fastened to the vessel.

    2. Vehicles and containers should be secured to the vessel before the start of the sea journey to prevent them being displaced by the motion of the vessel.

    3. Roll-on/roll-off vessels should have adequate ventilation to meet variations in climate and the thermo-regulatory needs of the animal species being transported, especially where the animals are transported in a secondary vehicle/container on enclosed decks.

  6. Space allowance

    1. The number of animals which should be transported on a vehicle or in a container and their allocation to compartments should be determined before loading.

    2. The space required on a vehicle or in a container depends upon whether or not the animals need to lie down (for example, cattle, sheep, pigs, camels and poultry), or to stand (horses). Animals which will need to lie down often stand when first loaded or when the vehicle is driven with too much lateral movement or sudden braking.

    3. When animals lie down, they should all be able to adopt a normal lying posture, without being on top of one another, and allowing necessary thermoregulation.

    4. When animals are standing, they should have sufficient space to adopt a balanced position as appropriate to the climate and species transported.

    5. The amount of headroom necessary depends on the species of animal. Each animal should be able to assume its natural standing position for transport (including during loading and unloading) without coming into contact with the roof or upper deck of the vehicle, and there should be sufficient headroom to allow adequate airflow over the animals. These conditions will not normally apply to poultry except for one day-old chicks. However, under tropical and subtropical conditions (under study) poultry benefit from having adequate head room to allow head cooling.

    6. Calculations for the space allowance for each animal should be carried out using the figures given in a relevant national or international document. The number and size of pens on the vehicle should be varied to where possible accommodate already established groups of animals while avoiding group sizes which are too large.

    7. Other factors which may influence space allowance include:

      1. vehicle/container design;

      2. length of journey;

      3. need to provide feed and water on the vehicle;

      4. quality of roads;

      5. expected weather conditions;

      6. category and sex of the animals.

  7. Rest, water and feed

    1. Suitable water and feed should be available as appropriate and needed for the species, age, and condition of the animals, as well as the duration of the journey, climatic conditions, etc.

    2. Animals should be allowed to rest at resting points at appropriate intervals during the journey. The type of transport, the age and species of the animals being transported, and climatic conditions should determine the frequency of rest stops and whether the animals should be unloaded. Water and feed should be available during rest stops.

  8. Ability to observe animals during the journey

    1. Animals should be positioned to enable each animal to be observed regularly during the journey to ensure their safety and good welfare. The condition will not normally apply to poultry. However, efforts should be made to observe the general conditions within the crates.

    2. If the animals are in crates or on multi-tiered vehicles which do not allow free access for observation, for example where the roof of the tier is too low, animals cannot be inspected adequately, and serious injury or disease could go undetected. In these circumstances, a shorter journey duration should be allowed, and the maximum duration will vary in accordance with the rate at which problems arise in the species and under the conditions of transport.

  9. Control of disease

    As animal transport is often a significant factor in the spread of infectious diseases, journey planning should take the following into account:

    1. mixing of animals from different sources in a single consignment should be minimised;

    2. contact at resting points between animals from different sources should be avoided;

    3. when possible, animals should be vaccinated against diseases to which they are likely to be exposed at their destination;

    4. medications used prophylactically or therapeutically should be approved by the Veterinary Authority of the exporting country and the importing country and should only be administered by a veterinarian or other person who has been instructed in their use by a veterinarian.

  10. Emergency response procedures

    There should be an emergency management plan that identifies the important adverse events that may be encountered during the journey, the procedures for managing each event and the action to be taken in an emergency. For each important event, the plan should document the actions to be undertaken and the responsibilities of all parties involved, including communications and record keeping.

  11. Other considerations

    1. Extreme weather conditions are hazardous for animals undergoing transport and require appropriate vehicle design to minimise risks. Special precautions should be taken for animals that have not been acclimatised or which are unsuited to either hot or cold conditions. In some extreme conditions of heat or cold, animals should not be transported at all.

    2. In some circumstances, transportation during the night may reduce thermal stress or the adverse effects of other external stimuli.

Article 7.3.6.


  1. Animals should not be loaded until the documentation required to that point is complete.

  2. The documentation accompanying the consignment should include:

    1. journey travel plan and emergency management plan;

    2. date, time and place of loading and unloading;

    3. veterinary certification, when required;

    4. animal welfare competencies of the driver (under study);

    5. animal identification to allow animal traceability to the premises of departure and, where possible, to the premises of origin;

    6. details of any animals considered at particular risk of suffering poor welfare during transport (point 3 e)of Article 7.3.7.);

    7. documentation of the period of rest, and access to feed and water, prior to the journey;

    8. stocking density estimate for each load in the consignment;

    9. the journey log - daily record of inspection and important events, including records of morbidity and mortality and actions taken, climatic conditions, rest stops, travel time and distance, feed and water offered and estimates of consumption, medication provided, and mechanical defects.

  3. When veterinary certification is required to accompany consignments of animals, it should address:

    1. fitness of animals to travel;

    2. animal identification (description, number, etc.);

    3. health status including any tests, treatments and vaccinations carried out;

    4. when required, details of disinfection carried out.

    At the time of certification, the veterinarian should notify the animal handler or the driver of any factors affecting the fitness of animals to travel for a particular journey.

Article 7.3.7.

Pre-journey period

  1. General considerations

    1. Pre-journey rest is necessary if the welfare of animals has become poor during the collection period because of the physical environment or the social behaviour of the animals. The need for rest should be judged by a veterinarian or other competent person.

    2. Pre-journey assembly/holding areas should be designed to:

      1. securely hold the animals;

      2. maintain a safe environment from hazards, including predators and disease;

      3. protect animals from exposure to severe weather conditions;

      4. allow for maintenance of social groups;

      5. allow for rest, and appropriate water and feed.

    3. Consideration should be given to the previous transport experience, training and conditioning of the animals, if known, as these may reduce fear and stress in animals.

    4. Feed and water should be provided pre-journey if the journey duration is greater than the normal inter-feeding and drinking interval for the animal. Recommendations for specific species are described in detail in Article 7.3.12.

    5. When animals are to be provided with a novel diet or method of feed or water provision during the journey, an adequate period of adaptation should be allowed.

    6. Before each journey, vehicles and containers should be thoroughly cleaned and, if necessary, treated for animal health and public health purposes, using methods approved by the Competent Authority. When cleaning is necessary during a journey, this should be carried out with the minimum of stress and risks to the animals.

    7. Where an animal handler believes that there is a significant risk of disease among the animals to be loaded or significant doubt as to their fitness to travel, the animals should be examined by a veterinarian.

  2. Selection of compatible groups

    Compatible groups should be selected before transport to avoid adverse animal welfare consequences. The following recommendations should be applied when assembling groups of animals:

    1. Animals reared together should be maintained as a group; animals with a strong social bond, such as a dam and offspring, should be transported together.

    2. Animals of the same species can be mixed unless there is a significant likelihood of aggression; aggressive individuals should be segregated (recommendations for specific species are described in detail in Article 7.3.12.). For some species, animals from different groups should not be mixed because poor welfare occurs unless they have established a social structure.

    3. Young or small animals should be separated from older or larger animals, with the exception of nursing mothers with young at foot.

    4. Animals with horns or antlers should not be mixed with animals lacking horns or antlers unless judged to be compatible.

    5. Animals of different species should not be mixed unless they are judged to be compatible.

  3. Fitness to travel

    1. Each animal should be inspected by a veterinarian or an animal handler to assess fitness to travel. If its fitness to travel is in doubt, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Animals found unfit to travel should not be loaded onto a vehicle, except for transport to receive veterinary attention.

    2. Humane and effective arrangements should be made by the owner and the agent for the handling and care of any animal rejected as unfit to travel.

    3. Animals that are unfit to travel include, but may not be limited to:

      1. those that are sick, injured, weak, disabled or fatigued;

      2. those that are unable to stand unaided and bear weight on each leg;

      3. those that are blind in both eyes;

      4. those that cannot be moved without causing them additional suffering;

      5. newborn with an unhealed navel;

      6. pregnant animals which would be in the final 10% of their gestation period at the planned time of unloading;

      7. females travelling without young which have given birth within the previous 48 hours;

      8. those whose body condition would result in poor welfare because of the expected climatic conditions.

    4. Risks during transport can be reduced by selecting animals best suited to the conditions of travel and those that are acclimatised to expected weather conditions.

    5. Animals at particular risk of suffering poor welfare during transport and which require special conditions (such as in the design of facilities and vehicles, and the length of the journey) and additional attention during transport, may include:

      1. large or obese individuals;

      2. very young or old animals;

      3. excitable or aggressive animals;

      4. animals which have had little contact with humans;

      5. animals subject to motion sickness;

      6. females in late pregnancy or heavy lactation, dam and offspring;

      7. animals with a history of exposure to stressors or pathogenic agents prior to transport;

      8. animals with unhealed wounds from recent surgical procedures such as dehorning.

  4. Specific-species requirements

    Transport procedures should be able to take account of variations in the behaviour of the species. Flight zones, social interactions and other behaviour vary significantly among species and even within species. Facilities and handling procedures that are successful with one species are often ineffective or dangerous with another.

    Recommendations for specific species are described in detail in Article 7.3.12.

Article 7.3.8.


  1. Competent supervision

    1. Loading should be carefully planned as it has the potential to be the cause of poor welfare in transported animals.

    2. Loading should be supervised and/or conducted by animal handlers. The animals are to be loaded quietly and without unnecessary noise, harassment or force. Untrained assistants or spectators should not impede the process.

    3. When containers are loaded onto a vehicle, this should be carried out in such a way to avoid poor animal welfare.

  2. Facilities

    1. The facilities for loading including the collecting area, races and loading ramps should be designed and constructed to take into account the needs and abilities of the animals with regard to dimensions, slopes, surfaces, absence of sharp projections, flooring, etc.

    2. Loading facilities should be properly illuminated to allow the animals to be observed by animal handler(s), and to allow the ease of movement of the animals at all times. Facilities should provide uniform light levels directly over approaches to sorting pens, chutes, loading ramps, with brighter light levels inside vehicles/containers, in order to minimise baulking. Dim light levels may be advantageous for the catching of poultry and some other animals. Artificial lighting may be required. Loading ramps and other facilities should have a non-slippery flooring.

    3. Ventilation during loading and the journey should provide for fresh air, the removal of excessive heat, humidity and noxious fumes (such as ammonia and carbon monoxide), and the prevention of accumulations of ammonia and carbon dioxide. Under warm and hot conditions, ventilation should allow for the adequate convective cooling of each animal. In some instances, adequate ventilation can be achieved by increasing the space allowance for animals.

  3. Goads and other aids

    When moving animals, their species-specific behaviour should be used (see Article 7.3.12.). If goads and other aids are necessary, the following principles should apply:

    1. Animals that have little or no room to move should not be subjected to physical force or goads and other aids which compel movement. Electric goads and prods should only be used in extreme cases and not on a routine basis to move animals. The use and the power output should be restricted to that necessary to assist movement of an animal and only when an animal has a clear path ahead to move. Goads and other aids should not be used repeatedly if the animal fails to respond or move. In such cases it should be investigated whether some physical or other impediment is preventing the animal from moving.

    2. The use of such devices should be limited to battery-powered goads on the hindquarters of pigs and large ruminants, and never on sensitive areas such as the eyes, mouth, ears, anogenital region or belly. Such instruments should not be used on horses, sheep and goats of any age, or on calves or piglets.

    3. Useful and permitted goads include panels, flags, plastic paddles, flappers (a length of cane with a short strap of leather or canvas attached), plastic bags and rattles; they should be used in a manner sufficient to encourage and direct movement of the animals without causing undue stress.

    4. Painful procedures (including whipping, tail twisting, use of nose twitches, pressure on eyes, ears or external genitalia), or the use of goads or other aids which cause pain and suffering (including large sticks, sticks with sharp ends, lengths of metal piping, fencing wire or heavy leather belts), should not be used to move animals.

    5. Excessive shouting at animals or making loud noises (e.g. through the cracking of whips) to encourage them to move should not occur, as such actions may make the animals agitated, leading to crowding or falling.

    6. The use of well trained dogs to help with the loading of some species may be acceptable.

    7. Animals should be grasped or lifted in a manner which avoids pain or suffering and physical damage (e.g. bruising, fractures, dislocations). In the case of quadrupeds, manual lifting by a person should only be used in young animals or small species, and in a manner appropriate to the species; grasping or lifting animals only by their wool, hair, feathers, feet, neck, ears, tails, head, horns, limbs causing pain or suffering should not be permitted, except in an emergency where animal welfare or human safety may otherwise be compromised.

    8. Conscious animals should not be thrown, dragged or dropped.

    9. Performance standards should be established in which numerical scoring is used to evaluate the use of such instruments, and to measure the percentage of animals moved with an electric instrument and the percentage of animals slipping or falling as a result of their usage.

Article 7.3.9.


  1. General considerations

    1. Drivers and animal handlers should check the load immediately before departure to ensure that the animals have been properly loaded. Each load should be checked again early in the trip and adjustments made as appropriate. Periodic checks should be made throughout the trip, especially at rest or refuelling stops or during meal breaks when the vehicle is stationary.

    2. Drivers should utilise smooth, defensive driving techniques, without sudden turns or stops, to minimise uncontrolled movements of the animals.

  2. Methods of restraining or containing animals

    1. Methods of restraining animals should be appropriate to the species and age of animals involved and the training of the individual animal.

    2. Recommendations for specific species are described in detail in Article 7.3.12.

  3. Regulating the environment within vehicles or containers

    1. Animals should be protected against harm from hot or cold conditions during travel. Effective ventilation procedures for maintaining the environment within vehicles or containers will vary in accordance with whether conditions are cold, hot and dry or hot and humid, but in all conditions a build-up of noxious gases should be prevented.

    2. The environment within vehicles or containers in hot and warm weather can be regulated by the flow of air produced by the movement of the vehicle. In warm and hot weather, the duration of journey stops should be minimised and vehicles should be parked under shade, with adequate and appropriate ventilation.

    3. To minimise slipping and soiling, and maintain a healthy environment, urine and faeces should be removed from floors when necessary and disposed of in such a way as to prevent the transmission of disease and in compliance with all relevant health and environmental legislation.

  4. Sick, injured or dead animals

    1. A driver or an animal handler finding sick, injured or dead animals should act in accordance with a predetermined emergency response plan.

    2. Sick or injured animals should be segregated.

    3. Ferries (roll-on roll-off) should have procedures to treat sick or injured animals during the journey.

    4. In order to reduce the likelihood that animal transport will increase the spread of infectious disease, contact between transported animals, or the waste products of the transported animals, and other farm animals should be minimised.

    5. During the journey, when disposal of a dead animal becomes necessary, this should be carried out in such a way as to prevent the transmission of disease and in compliance with all relevant health and environmental legislation.

    6. When killing is necessary, it should be carried out as quickly as possible and assistance should be sought from a veterinarian or other person(s) competent in humane killing procedures. Recommendations for specific species are described in Chapter 7.6.

  5. Water and feed requirements

    1. If journey duration is such that feeding or watering is required or if the species requires feed or water throughout, access to suitable feed and water for all the animals (appropriate for their species and age) carried in the vehicle should be provided. There should be adequate space for all animals to move to the feed and water sources and due account taken of likely competition for feed.

    2. Recommendations for specific species are described in detail in Article 7.3.12.

  6. Rest periods and conditions

    1. Animals that are being transported should be rested at appropriate intervals during the journey and offered feed and water, either on the vehicle or, if necessary, unloaded into suitable facilities.

    2. Suitable facilities should be used en route, when resting requires the unloading of the animals. These facilities should meet the needs of the particular animal species and should allow access of all animals to feed and water.

  7. In-transit observations

    1. Animals being transported by road should be observed soon after a journey is commenced and whenever the driver has a rest stop. After meal breaks and refuelling stops, the animals should be observed immediately prior to departure.

    2. Animals being transported by rail should be observed at each scheduled stop. The responsible rail transporter should monitor the progress of trains carrying animals and take all appropriate action to minimise delays.

    3. During stops, it should be ensured that the animals continue to be properly confined, have appropriate feed and water, and their physical condition is satisfactory.

Article 7.3.10.

Unloading and post-journey handling

  1. General considerations

    1. The required facilities and the principles of animal handling detailed in Article 7.3.8. apply equally to unloading, but consideration should be given to the likelihood that the animals will be fatigued.

    2. Unloading should be supervised and/or conducted by an animal handler with knowledge and experience of the behavioural and physical characteristics of the species being unloaded. Animals should be unloaded from the vehicle into appropriate facilities as soon as possible after arrival at the destination but sufficient time should be allowed for unloading to proceed quietly and without unnecessary noise, harassment or force.

    3. Facilities should provide all animals with appropriate care and comfort, adequate space and ventilation, access to feed (if appropriate) and water, and shelter from extreme weather conditions.

    4. For details regarding the unloading of animals at a slaughterhouse/abattoir, see Chapter 7.5.

  2. Sick or injured animals

    1. An animal that has become sick, injured or disabled during a journey should be appropriately treated or humanely killed (see Chapter 7.6.). If necessary, veterinary advice should be sought in the care and treatment of these animals. In some cases, where animals are non-ambulatory due to fatigue, injury or sickness, it may be in the best welfare interests of the animal to be treated or killed aboard the vehicle. Assistance should be sought from a veterinarian or other person(s) competent in humane killing procedures.

    2. At the destination, the animal handler or the driver during transit should ensure that responsibility for the welfare of sick, injured or disabled animals is transferred to a veterinarian or other suitable person.

    3. If treatment or humane killing is not possible aboard the vehicle, there should be appropriate facilities and equipment for the humane unloading of animals that are non-ambulatory due to fatigue, injury or sickness. These animals should be unloaded in a manner that causes the least amount of suffering. After unloading, separate pens and other appropriate facilities should be available for sick or injured animals.

    4. Feed, if appropriate, and water should be available for each sick or injured animal.

  3. Addressing disease risks

    The following should be taken into account in addressing the greater risk of disease due to animal transport and the possible need for segregation of transported animals at the destination:

    1. increased contact among animals, including those from different sources and with different disease histories;

    2. increased shedding of pathogenic agents and increased susceptibility to infection related to stress and impaired defences against disease, including immunosuppression;

    3. exposure of animals to pathogenic agents which may contaminate vehicles, resting points, markets, etc.

  4. Cleaning and disinfection

    1. Vehicles, crates, containers, etc. used to carry the animals should be cleaned before re-use through the physical removal of manure and bedding by scraping, washing and flushing with water and detergent. This should be followed by disinfection when there are concerns about disease transmission.

    2. Manure, litter, bedding and the bodies of any animals which die during the journey should be disposed of in such a way as to prevent the transmission of disease and in compliance with all relevant health and environmental legislation.

    3. Establishments like livestock markets, slaughterhouses/abattoirs, resting sites, railway stations, etc. where animals are unloaded should be provided with appropriate areas for the cleaning and disinfection of vehicles.

Article 7.3.11.

Actions in the event of a refusal to allow the completion of the journey

  1. The welfare of the animals should be the first consideration in the event of a refusal to allow the completion of the journey.

  2. When the animals have been refused import, the Competent Authority of the importing country should make available suitable isolation facilities to allow the unloading of animals from a vehicle and their secure holding, without posing a risk to the health of national herd or flock, pending resolution of the situation. In this situation, the priorities should be:

    1. the Competent Authority of the importing country should provide urgently in writing the reasons for the refusal;

    2. in the event of a refusal for animal health reasons, the Competent Authority of the importing country should provide urgent access to a veterinarian, where possible an OIE veterinarian(s) appointed by the Director General, to assess the health status of the animals with regard to the concerns of the importing country, and the necessary facilities and approvals to expedite the required diagnostic testing;

    3. the Competent Authority of the importing country should provide access to allow continued assessment of the health and other aspects of the welfare of the animals;

    4. if the matter cannot be promptly resolved, the Competent Authorities of the exporting and importing countries should call on the OIE to mediate.

  3. In the event that a Competent Authority requires the animals to remain on the vehicle, the priorities should be:

    1. to allow provisioning of the vehicle with water and feed as necessary;

    2. to provide urgently in writing the reasons for the refusal;

    3. to provide urgent access to an independent veterinarian(s) to assess the health status of the animals, and the necessary facilities and approvals to expedite the required diagnostic testing in the event of a refusal for animal health reasons;

    4. to provide access to allow continued assessment of the health and other aspects of the welfare of the animals, and the necessary actions to deal with any animal issues which arise.

  4. The OIE should utilise its informal procedure for dispute mediation to identify a mutually agreed solution which will address animal health and any other welfare issues in a timely manner.

Article 7.3.12.

Species-specific issues

Camelids of the new world in this context comprise llamas, alpacas, guanaco and vicuna. They have good eyesight and, like sheep, can negotiate steep slopes, though ramps should be as shallow as possible. They load most easily in a bunch as a single animal will strive to rejoin the others. Whilst they are usually docile, they have an unnerving habit of spitting in self-defence. During transport, they usually lie down. They frequently extend their front legs forward when lying, so gaps below partitions should be high enough so that their legs are not trapped when the animals rise.

Cattle are sociable animals and may become agitated if they are singled out. Social order is usually established at about two years of age. When groups are mixed, social order has to be re-established and aggression may occur until a new order is established. Crowding of cattle may also increase aggression as the animals try to maintain personal space. Social behaviour varies with age, breed and sex; Bos indicusand B. indicus-cross animals are usually more temperamental than European breeds. Young bulls, when moved in groups, show a degree of playfulness (pushing and shoving) but become more aggressive and territorial with age. Adult bulls have a minimum personal space of six square metres. Cows with young calves can be very protective, and handling calves in the presence of their mothers can be dangerous. Cattle tend to avoid “dead end” in passages.

Goats should be handled calmly and are more easily led or driven than if they are excited. When goats are moved, their gregarious tendencies should be exploited. Activities which frighten, injure or cause agitation to animals should be avoided. Bullying is particularly serious in goats and can reflect demands for personal space. Housing strange goats together could result in fatalities, either through physical violence, or subordinate goats being refused access to food and water.

Horses in this context include donkeys, mules and hinnies. They have good eyesight and a very wide angle of vision. They may have a history of loading resulting in good or bad experiences. Good training should result in easier loading, but some horses can prove difficult, especially if they are inexperienced or have associated loading with poor transport conditions. In these circumstances, two experienced animal handlers can load an animal by linking arms or using a strop below its rump. Blindfolding may even be considered. Ramps should be as shallow as possible. Steps are not usually a problem when horses mount a ramp, but they tend to jump a step when descending, so steps should be as low as possible. Horses benefit from being individually stalled, but may be transported in compatible groups. When horses are to travel in groups, their shoes should be removed. Horses are prone to respiratory disease if they are restricted by period by tethers that prevent the lowering and lifting of their heads.

Pigs have poor eyesight, and may move reluctantly in unfamiliar surroundings. They benefit from well- lit loading bays. Since they negotiate ramps with difficulty, these should be as level as possible and provided with secure footholds. Ideally, a hydraulic lift should be used for greater heights. Pigs also negotiate steps with difficulty. A good ‘rule-of-thumb’ is that no step should be higher than the pig’s front knee. Serious aggression may result if unfamiliar animals are mixed. Pigs are highly susceptible to heat stress. Pigs are susceptible to motion sickness when in transit. Feed deprivation prior to loading may be beneficial to prevent motion sickness.

Sheep are sociable animals with good eyesight, a relatively subtle and undemonstrative behaviour and a tendency to “flock together”, especially when they are agitated. They should be handled calmly and their tendency to follow each other should be exploited when they are being moved. Crowding of sheep may lead to damaging aggressive and submissive behaviours as animals try to maintain personal space. Sheep may become agitated if they are singled out for attention, or kept alone, and will strive to rejoin the group. Activities which frighten, injure or cause agitation to sheep should be avoided. They can negotiate steep ramps.

nb: first adopted in 1998; most recent update adopted in 2011.

2018 ©OIE - Terrestrial Animal Health Code

Contents | Index Chapter 7.2. Chapter 7.4.