The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is reminding producers and transporters to ensure that ewes in late stage pregnancy are not transported.
Supervising Livestock Compliance Inspector Andrew Norris said inspectors had seen an increase in the number of consignments with pregnant sheep arriving at saleyards, and other points of aggregation.
“Everyone in the transport process has a role to play when it comes to determining whether an animal is fit to load, but good animal husbandry practices start on farm,” Mr Norris said.
“If there is any doubt as to the pregnancy status of ewes before they are transported, they should be carefully checked prior to loading.
“Ewes that are heavily pregnant will likely show some signs, such as a larger belly or fuller udder and should be drafted out and not transported.
“Transporting livestock in this condition presents significant risks to the health, safety and welfare of both the ewe and lamb.”
Pregnant ewes that are transported are highly susceptible to developing the serious condition pregnancy toxaemia.
Mr Norris said transporters also had a key role in ensuring sheep welfare, and if there was any doubt about an animal’s ability to withstand the intended journey, the sheep should not be loaded for transport.
The Code of Practice for the Transportation of Sheep in Western Australia states that ewes that are more than four months pregnant should not be transported unless it is absolutely unavoidable, and they must be offered food and water on arrival. It is appropriate to obtain veterinary advice prior to transport.
More information about the animal welfare responsibilities of producers and transporters is available here.
To report suspected cruelty to animals, contact the RSPCA on +61 (0)8 9209 9300 or 1300 278 3589 (emergencies only).
The Animal Welfare (Transport, Saleyards and Depots) (Cattle and Sheep) Regulations 2020, which were the subject of a consultation process that closed in February 2020, are expected to come into effect later this year.
Jodie Thomson, DPIRD media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937