Transporting Stock


2 min read

Minimise transport distance Discuss tall cattle with your transporter Make sure she's fit for transport Stand cows off green feed for at least 4 hours Provide roughage and water Give extra calcium Podcast Additional Resources

Preparing stock for transport is about ensuring a safe and comfortable journey for cattle, along with their wellbeing upon arrival at the destination. The page outlines key considerations such as minimising transport distance and time, communicating with transporters about specific needs of the animals, assessing their fitness for travel, standing cows off green feed for a particular time, and providing necessary nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Properly preparing cows for transport reduces the risk of injury and stress, benefits their health, and helps you uphold your responsibility for their welfare. It's a holistic approach that involves collaboration with transport operators, vets, and adherence to best practices.

Preparing stock for transport ensures a comfortable and safe journey for cattle, reduces effluent on public roads, and ensures cattle arrive at their destination fit and healthy.

Minimise transport distance

Request cull cows be sent to a processing facility nearby. Minimising transport time and distance is better for the cow and you, because risk of injury or going down increases with time and distance.

Only transport cows that are not likely to give birth during the journey or within 24hrs of arriving at the destination.  If within 4 weeks of calving date, travel should be less than 2 hours.

Discuss tall cattle with your transporter

Always let your transport company know if you have any larger or taller cows or bulls in the load.  A single deck truck is best for tall animals, otherwise they should be loaded on the bottom deck to minimise the risk of back rub.

Also tell your transporter if any of the cattle have horns. In most instances, horned cattle should be penned separately on the truck to prevent injury other animals.

Make sure she's fit for transport

Contact your vet, transport operator or processing company if you are unsure whether an animal is fit for transport.

  • No signs of ill health
  • No visible wounds, bleeding, disease, deformity or infection
  • No ingrown or recently removed horns
  • Cancer eye lesions must be confined to the eye, smaller than 2cm and not bleeding or discharging.
  • Able to bear weight evenly on all four limbs
  • The right Body Condition Score – BCS 3 or greater. Cows with BCS below 3 can only be transported to better grazing, not to saleyards or slaughter, and vet advice is recommended.

Stand cows off green feed for at least 4 hours

  • Stand stock off green feed for at least 4 hours (but for no more than 12 hours).
  • A grazed-out paddock or stand-off pad are better options because concrete surfaces can contribute to tender feet and aren’t good for lying.

Provide roughage and water

Continue feeding silage, hay or straw during stand-off, especially for lactating cows or prior to long-distance journeys.

Ensure all stock have access to water prior to loading. Many farmers have plumbed in a basic water trough at the yards that can be filled whilst the yards are in use. Remember, this will be their last chance to eat and they won’t get a drink until they arrive.

Give extra calcium

Lactating cows need extra calcium, in addition to extra magnesium, on the day of transport. The extra calcium could be given as an oral drench, extra allowance of a calcium-enriched meal, or a slurry poured over dry feed. Use the same rates as for colostrum cow supplementation.

Give extra calcium before transport

Video 1.45 min


Once cull cows are on the truck for transport, they can be a bit out of sight, out of mind. But our responsibility for their welfare doesn’t end at the gate. In this episode, Jac McGowan from DairyNZ joins a local truck driver for a day to see first-hand the ins and outs of transporting stock, and what challenges you’re preparing them for.

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Last updated: Sep 2023
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