A comfortable and safe journey for cattle reduces effluent on public roads and ensures animals arrive at their destination fit and healthy.
We recommend you read DairyNZ's Checklist for transporting cows – for farmers and transporters This checklist covers:
- transport planning
- day of transport
- are the animals good to go?
- care of sick animals
What is different due to Covid-19?
- Plan early to ensure you have removed cull cows. Know what you will do if delays at meat processors affect you.
- Physical distancing – you can use your vet, farm consultant or stock agent to assist with body condition scoring and other tasks but no hand shaking to say hi or thanks this year! Keep 2m apart, ensure any surfaces touched are disinfected and wash hands regularly.
- If you have stock to buy or sell, think through what your best option will be. At Alert Levels 3 and lower, saleyards and on-farm auctions are able to operate but so too will livestream auctions.
- Make sure anyone involved with assessing or moving stock completes the ‘Moving Day Participation Record’ – even if it is two weeks prior to traditional 1 June moving day.
- Under Alert Levels 3 and 4 cows will be unable to be milked during their journey. Research has shown that missing milkings for 2 – 4 days should have no adverse impact on a cow ‘s production, but may lead to a flare up of chronic mastitis cases or elevated SCC. Because of this, drying off cows prior to transport is encouraged. Transport in-milk cows long distances only if contractual obligations are in play (e.g. winter milk contracts) - see DairyNZ advice on missed milkings due to adverse events here
- Under Alert Levels 1 or 2 cows can be milked along their journey (although the preference is not to). This will require thorough disinfection of the dairy shed before and after your herd being milked – for both Covid-19 and biosecurity reasons. Read DairyNZ’s ‘Tips on cleaning surfaces during Covid-19’ for more information.
- At Alert Level 3 the use of family and friends to assist with moving cattle should be minimised where possible. At Alert Level 2 they may help but physical distancing rules apply. Try to use already existing bubbles.
Things to do
- Ensure body condition score (BCS) targets will be met as per contract on takeover date
- If BCS, pasture cover targets or supplements on hand are not going to be met, have a proactive conversation with the other party as to what arrangement can be made to compensate
- Obtain third party advice if required to reach an agreement
- Contract third party to measure surplus/deficit feed inventory and quantify if required.
- Refer to your contract which should clearly show the exact amount of feed required on hand as well as process to follow if actual feed inventory is different to this.
Planning for the movement of cattle in the weeks and months prior to transport
- Complete Body Condition Scoring (BCS) of all animals for transport and make plans to ensure all stock will reach target BCS by moving day
- Do a final check over for any cull cows that have been missed – arrange for removal from farm. Where possible, ensure they will go to the nearest processing plant. If processing plants are full then make a Plan B.
- Dry off as many animals as possible and do this with sufficient time to ensure that they are properly dried off on the day of transport
- Confirm the exact number of cattle you need to transport
- How many cattle will be going with you from farm to farm
- How many will be arriving from another farm
- Ensure all animals that are going to be transported are NAIT compliant (i.e. have NAIT tags in their ear and are registered with NAIT).
- Decide if you will need to stock or destock further. If so, make plans.
- Book in a stock transporter. If you haven’t used them before ask around for recommendations and/or ask enough questions to ensure you are happy to trust your animals into their care
- Confirm truck will be thoroughly cleaned before your cattle are transported
- Confirm truck has suitable effluent storage and that it will be empty
- Discuss tall cattle and cattle with horns with your transporter, check you are ok with their plan for these. Also check that they can transport your cattle with horns if you have them. Seek Veterinary advice if this is unclear.
- If you will be droving then try to find out from local farmers if they will also be droving and plan together how you will avoid each other.
- Check all animals have an approved ear tag and are registered in NAIT
- Check your NAIT account to ensure it is up to date. Call OSPRI for assistance if needed - 0800 482 463
- Confirm the animal health status of any animals that will be mixing with your animals on the new farm, and if necessary, make arrangements for testing, vaccinations etc. See the DairyNZ pre-purchase checklist for guidance.
- Check that the farm loading ramp and holding yards are in good order with no obstacles or protrusions that could harm cattle or people during loading. Confirm this will also be true for unloading
- Check that there are no biosecurity restrictions or requirements on the new farm, for example as a result of M bovis
- Understand your stock transport providers plans for food and water along the journey. As a general rule, pregnant cows require water every 12 hours and feeding every 24 hours. The MPI Code of Welfare for Transport within NZ contains best practice guidelines
- Ensure appropriate food and water will be immediately available to cattle upon unloading and who will be responsible for this.
- Ensure someone has been given responsibility to monitor the animals once unloaded to check that they are OK after their journey and that they will be available to do this until you arrive.
- Contact your insurer to confirm you have appropriate livestock transit cover in place before you move
Day prior to transporting
- Confirm stock are all ‘good to go’ with BCS of 3 or higher, fit and healthy and not likely to give birth during the journey
- Stand stock off green feed for at least four hours, but continue feeding silage, hay or straw during stand-off
- 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 while the yards are in use.
- Give extra calcium and magnesium to any lactating cows and consider any other minerals or trace elements (e.g. extra Phosphorus for cows being fed Fodderbeet). Make arrangements to ensure that these cows are milked immediately prior to loading.
- Confirm with the transporter times and address details and your expectations for the move.
- Make sure you have enough people to help with the loading and unloading for a smooth and efficient process.
- Confirm that agreed food and water will be available to animals along the journey if necessary, and upon arrival.
Day of transporting
- Inspect each animal prior to loading to ensure they are fit and healthy for transport
- Milk any lactating cows
- Confirm with transport operator that effluent tanks are empty on trucks prior to loading stock
- Complete ASD and NAIT documentation
- Move to appropriate feed and water access as soon as possible after arrival
- Two hours following unloading cattle must be checked for signs of injury or illness
Tracking animals and paperwork
Complete Animal Status Declaration (ASD) forms for any animals:
- moving between properties where there are multiple people in charge of the animals which are going to slaughter
- forms can be printed from http://www.ospri.co.nz/assets/ASD-form.pdf or you can order a book of forms from Ospri. Please note: New ASD forms are required from June 2020 as they contain a NAIT records declaration
Update your NAIT accounts
- All movements of dairy cattle must be recorded in the NAIT system to ensure animals are able to be traced for biosecurity purposes
- Both sending movements and receiving movements must be completed within 48 hours of the physical movement of the stock occurring
- if you have any questions or problems with knowing what to do call OSPRI on 0800 482 463
Pass any veterinary certificates required for stock being transported to the transporter
Tips and tricks
- Talk regularly to your stock carriers and transporters. Share your plans and have them share theirs. Remember some things are outside people’s control so if the plan changes find out why first and together work on a new plan
- Transporting stock takes time – you will need to begin at least 12 hours before transportation
- Be calm around the cattle in the lead up – the lower their stress levels the easier loading, transporting and unloading will be
Resources to help