Agriculture Victoria: producers need to take extra care with livestock in dry times

By Rodney Woods

Agriculture Victoria is urging farmers to consider the current seasonal conditions when selling stock at a saleyard or directly to an abattoir.

Agriculture Victoria animal health and welfare program manager Dr Rachael Holmes said with the current dry seasonal conditions that parts of Victoria had been facing, producers needed to be even more aware of the condition of any livestock they planned to sell.

Dr Holmes said questions to consider when checking livestock pre-loading or selection for sale included:

Is it lame? (i.e. can it walk on its own by bearing weight on all legs?);

Is it too weak to undertake the journey? (is it emaciated or visibly dehydrated?);

Is it suffering from severe visible distress or injury? (such as flystrike);

Is it suffering from any condition that could cause it increased pain or suffering during transport? (such as cancers, growths, active mastitis);

Is it blind in both eyes?

Has it had a late pregnancy? (Special consideration is required, please refer to the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock for specific requirements).

Dr Holmes said if producers answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, the animal was not fit to load and should be treated or, if necessary, euthanased on-farm.

Dr Holmes said abattoirs had a duty of care to the livestock they received and if the welfare of received livestock was compromised then these animals would be managed according to the abattoir’s policy, which may include reporting to Agriculture Victoria for investigation.

For more information about drought and dry seasonal conditions assistance and upcoming workshops visit

Find the Meat & Livestock Fit to Load guide at or the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock at