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Tips for transporting sheep and goats in cooler months

22 May 2024

Key points:

  • Goats and older ewes are particularly susceptible to cold weather in long distance transport.
  • Talk to your transport operator about the class of livestock and length of journey to prepare accordingly.
  • Yard animals well in advance of the trip and feed good quality hay.

With the mercury dropping in southern parts of the country, sheep and goat producers are urged to consider weather conditions and length of journey when preparing to transport livestock.

Alina Hawkins, Chief Operating Officer at the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria and co-owner of Hawkins Stock Transport, said old ewes and goats are particularly susceptible to cold weather.

“During winter, if goats and old ewes are not taken off water before long journeys, they’re at risk of getting wet and cold,” Alina said.

“Sheep and goats should be yarded and fed quality hay, but further considerations of body condition and skin length need to be discussed with your transporter,” she said.

“Generally, sheep and goats should be off water for at least 24 hours prior to transport in winter – however it’s most important to discuss the specifics of the trip with the transporter for the best outcome for everyone involved.”

Preparation prevents problems

In her 20 years of livestock transport, Alina said preparation in the days before loading made all the difference.

“You put all the time and care into breeding and managing your livestock, so it’s important that care continues in the lead-up to transport as well.

“If they’re managed well before transporting, it reduces effluent and helps the animals travel better which reduces drama along the way,” she said.

Transport Hub best practice guidelines

Sharon Dundon, MLA Project Manager for Animal Wellbeing, said MLA’s newly launched Transport Hub has guidelines and advice specific to the class of animal being moved.

“Weather conditions are one of several things producers, agents and managers should discuss with their transporter when planning livestock movements,” Sharon said.

“The guidelines on the Transport Hub were developed in consultation with transporters on journey considerations for sheep, cattle and goats,” she said.

“The type of feed, the class of livestock you are consigning and the duration of the journey, will all inform the appropriate time off feed and water prior to transport.”