Animal Health & Welfare

Construction of livestock transport vehicles

It is a requirement that vehicles which transport animals must be designed, constructed, maintained and operated to avoid injury, suffering, and ensure the safety of the animals transported in them. These requirements apply to the transport of animals by road, rail, sea and air.

The legislation applies to persons who transport live vertebrate animals, which includes farm livestock (cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, deer, and horses), in connection with an economic activity (in other words a business or trade).

In the guide
Principal requirements

Principal requirements?
The welfare of animals during transport is protected by EU Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. This is brought into law in Wales by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (Wales) Order 2007. The law requires that vehicles and loading and unloading facilities shall be designed, constructed, maintained and operated so as to:

  • avoid injury and suffering to ensure the safety of the animals
  • protect the animals from inclement weather, extreme temperatures and adverse changes in climate conditions
  • be cleansed and disinfected
  • prevent the animals escaping or falling out and to be able to withstand the stresses of movements
  • provide barriers to prevent falling when loading or unloading
  • ensure that air quality and quantity appropriate to the species transported can be maintained
  • provide access to the animals to allow them to be inspected and cared for
  • present a flooring surface that is anti-slip
  • present a flooring surface that minimise the leakage of urine or faeces
  • provide a means of lighting sufficient for inspection and care of the animals during transport and during loading and unloading

Sufficient space shall be provided inside the animals' compartment and at each of its levels to ensure that there is adequate ventilation above the animals when they are in a naturally standing position, without on any account hindering their natural movement.

Sufficient ventilation shall be provided to ensure that the needs of the animals are fully met.

Partitions shall be used where necessary to provide support, or to prevent excessive movement of animals during transit, and when used shall be positioned to prevent injury or unnecessary suffering. Partitions should be of rigid construction and strong enough to withstand the weight of the animals being transported. They should also be constructed and positioned so as not to interfere with ventilation and have fittings designed for quick and easy operation.

Vehicles used to transport livestock must be clearly and visibly marked with signs indicating the presence of live animals.

Vehicles will carry suitable equipment for loading and unloading.

Ramps shall not be steeper than an angle of 20 degrees, that is 36, 4% to the horizontal for pigs, calves and horses and an angle of 26 degrees, that is 50% to the horizontal for sheep and cattle other than calves.

Where the slope is steeper than 10 degrees, that is 17,6% to the horizontal, ramps shall be fitted with a system, such as foot battens, which ensure that the animals climb or go down without risks or difficulties.

Lifting platforms and upper floors shall have safety barriers so as to prevent animals falling or escaping during loading and unloading operations.

Suitable provision shall be made so that animals may be tied to the interior of the vehicle during transit, however, animals must not be tied by the horns, antlers, legs or nose rings. Ropes or other attachments should be sufficiently strong not to break and designed to eliminate the danger of strangulation or injury and be long enough to allow the animal, if necessary, to lie down and to eat and drink. Fittings should be quick release.

Additional requirements apply to vehicles transporting livestock for over eight hours. Such vehicles must also be inspected and approved by a body approved by the competent authority (a list of such bodies is available from the Welsh Assembly Government).

Further, construction requirements also apply to the transport of animals by air, sea and rail. More information on welfare during transport regarding these requirements is available from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA).

Any person who contravenes the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (Wales) Order 2007 commits an offence against the Animal Health Act 1981, and can receive a fine of up to £5,000 per offence and/or six months' imprisonment on summary conviction.

Please note
This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. Please contact us for further information.

Relevant legislation
Animal Health Act 1981
EU Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations
Welfare of Animals (Transport) (Wales) Order 2007

Last reviewed/updated: May 2013

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