Land transport of livestock code

The Queensland compulsory code of practice for land transport of livestock commenced 31 January 2014 under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.

The code covers the following major commercial livestock species in Australia:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • goats
  • horses
  • pigs
  • alpacas
  • poultry (broilers, layers, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, guinea fowl, partridge, quail and pigeons)
  • emus
  • ostriches
  • buffalo
  • deer
  • camels.

The code applies to the transportation of commercial and non-commercial livestock by road, rail, and to livestock transport vehicles aboard a ship.

The transport process begins when livestock are assembled prior to loading, and ends when the livestock are unloaded at the final destination.

Responsibilities outlined in the code apply to everyone involved in the care and management of livestock during the transport process, including:

  • owners
  • agents
  • drivers
  • transport companies
  • livestock
  • handlers at farming enterprises
  • depots
  • saleyards
  • feedlots
  • livestock processing plants.

Key features of the code

Chain of responsibility

The chain of responsibility throughout the transport process is covered in the code. This includes the person supplying the livestock for transport, the transporter and the person receiving the livestock at their final destination.

Livestock selection and fitness

Only livestock that are fit for the intended journey must be presented or loaded for transport. Livestock are not fit for the intended journey if they:

  • are unable to walk bearing weight on all legs
  • are heavily pregnant
  • gave birth within 72 hours prior to loading
  • are severely emaciated
  • are visibly dehydrated
  • are severely distressed or injured
  • are suffering a condition that is likely to increase pain or distress during the transport process
  • are blind in both eyes.

Read more about selecting livestock for transport (PDF, 1.9MKB).

Water access for livestock

The code sets a maximum number of hours that livestock may go without water during the transport process. As soon as livestock have reached their maximum time they must be spelled and given water, food and the opportunity to rest.

The maximum time off water and minimum spell period varies with the species, age and reproductive status of the livestock.

Click on an animal name from the list below to see their maximum time off water and minimum spell durations:

Alpacas

Class of alpaca Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Alpacas known or visually assessed to be less than 33 weeks pregnant 8 8
Alpacas known or visually assessed to be between 33 and 43 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 4 4
Alpacas known or visually assessed to be more than 43 weeks pregnant 4 24
Lactating alpacas travelling with dependent young less than 6 months of age 4 4
Alpacas less than 6 months old 4 4
Alpacas between 6 and 12 months old (inclusive) 8 8
Any other alpaca 24 24

Buffalo

Class of buffalo Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Buffalo known or visually assessed to be between 28 and 43 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 24 12
Buffalo known or visually assessed to be more than 43 weeks pregnant 4 24
Lactating buffalo travelling with dependent young 24 12
Buffalo less than 6 months old 24 12
Any other buffalo 36 24

Camels

Class of camel Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Camels known or visually assessed to be between 36 and 53 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 24 12
Camels known or visually assessed to be more than 53 weeks pregnant 4 36
Lactating camels travelling with dependent young 24 12
Camels less than 6 months old 24 12
Any other camel 48 36

Cattle

Class of cattle Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Cattle known or visually assessed to be between 24 and 37 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 24 12
Cattle known or visually assessed to be more than 37 weeks pregnant 4 24
Lactating cattle travelling with dependent young 24 12
Cattle more than 30 days old but less than 6 months old 24 12
Any other cattle 48 36

Deer

Class of deer Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Deer known or visually assessed to be between 20 and 30 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 24 12
Deer known or visually assessed to be more than 30 weeks pregnant 4 24
Lactating deer travelling with dependent young 24 12
Weaned deer less than 6 months old 28 12
Any other deer 48 36

Emus and ostriches

Class of emus and ostriches Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Emus or ostriches between 5 and 90 days old (inclusive) 24 12
Emus or ostriches more than 90 days old 36 24

Goats

Class of goat Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Goats known or visually assessed to be between 14 and 19 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 24 12
Goats known or visually assessed to be more than 19 weeks pregnant 4 12
Lactating goats travelling with dependent young 28 12
Goats less than 6 months old 28 12
Any other goat 48 36

Horses

Class of horse Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Horses known or visually assessed to be between 30 and 43 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 12 12
Horses known or visually assessed to be more than 43 weeks pregnant 4 24
Lactating horses travelling with dependent young 12 12
Horses less than 6 months old 12 12
Any other horse 24 12

Pigs

Class of pig Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Pigs known or visually assessed to be more than 14 weeks pregnant 4 24
Lactating pigs travelling with dependent young 12 12
Weaned pigs less than 30kg 12 12
Any other pig 24 12

Poultry

Class of poultry Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Chicks 72 72
Poultry other than chicks 24 24

Sheep

Class of sheep Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Sheep known or visually assessed to be between 14 and 19 weeks pregnant (inclusive) 24 12
Sheep known or visually assessed to be more than 19 weeks pregnant 4 24
Lactating sheep travelling with dependent young 28 12
Sheep less than 4 months old 28 12
Any other sheep 48 36

Handling livestock

Anyone handling livestock during the transport process must minimise stress to the animal.

Electric prodders must be used sparingly, and must not be used on:

  • livestock less than 3 months old
  • alpacas
  • bobby calves
  • emus or ostriches
  • pregnant
  • goats
  • horses
  • pigs less than 60kg
  • poultry.

Dogs must be kept under control at all times. All dogs that habitually bite livestock must be muzzled, except when working with cattle greater than 30 days old.

Treatment of livestock

Livestock must receive appropriate treatment as soon as practical if they:

  • are not fit for the intended journey
  • have suffered an injury (or another condition) that has a severe impact on their welfare.

Humane killing may be appropriate for livestock that are suffering from a condition which can't be treated, or if it is impractical to treat them.

Development of the code

The code of practice was developed to achieve consistent national welfare standards for livestock transport.

Read more about the Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines.

Also consider...