Transport and care of cattle

Before purchasing cattle you need to ensure that you are prepared for their ongoing care and husbandry.  It is important that you can Cattle in pens before or after being transported care for the cattle and provide a healthy environment for them to graze.

As an owner or person in charge of cattle, it is important for you to remember that you have an overall responsibility for the care and management of the animals in your care. The following documents should be referred to for further advice regarding your legal responsibilities for the welfare of cattle under your care and supervision:

Transporting cattle

The key things to remember are:

  • The size and design of the transport vehicle should be compatible with the number of cattle being transported.
  • The transport vehicle should be in good repair to ensure cattle arrive at their destination with no injuries and in the shortest possible time.
  • The stock crate should be well designed so as to minimise bruising. A well designed stock crate will have a large smooth contact surface without projections on which animals can bruise.
  • Pens should be approximately 3 metres in length to provide more support to animals during travel and thus reduce stress and allow them to adapt to transport more readily.

Cattle that need to be transported or penned separately

It is recommended that the following classes be transported or penned separately:

  • polled and dehorned cattle
  • young calves
  • a cow with a suckling calf
  • adult bulls
  • cattle greatly different in size
  • females in advanced stages of pregnancy

Transporting bobby calves

Special requirements for transporting bobby calves:

  • A livestock transport trailer or truck is the preferred method.
  • Transportation must protect calves from the cold and heat.
  • All bobby calves must be fed on the farm within 6 hours of transportation for sale.
  • Where possible bobby calves should be transported by the shortest route.
  • Transport operators should check calves en route at least once every three hours.
  • Bobby calves should be loaded at a density so as to allow all calves to lie down while being transported.
  • Bobby calves shall be transported in separate compartments from other classes of stock.

You must not:

  • transport calves in a car boot, sealed container or anything that restricts airflow
  • tie the legs of the calves in order to restrain them
  • overload the transport vehicle —  you may need to make two trips or find a bigger transport vehicle.

Speak to your stock agent if transport is required for your new purchase.

Caring for your cattle after transportation

Temporary housing

It is important to make sure you have adequate facilities to unload the cattle when you get them back to your property. A set of yards or a small paddock to confine the cattle for the first couple of days is essential.

Holding the cattle in a small paddock or set of yards for the first couple of days will help to settle and calm them. It may also help prevent the spread of weeds and disease to your property. This initial step is important for the biosecurity of your property.

Feed and water requirements on arrival

The holding paddock or yard must have a supply of water that is accessible to all animals. It would also be a good place to introduce your cattle to some hay, in order to settle them after the transport.

When you finally introduce your cattle to the larger paddock, it is best to continue giving hay for at least the first two days, so that their rumen (stomach) has time to adjust gradually to the pasture feed. It is a legal requirement to ensure that cattle are provided with proper and sufficient food, drink and shelter.

Health assessment after transportation

While the cattle are being held in the yards or small paddock use the opportunity to assess them —  before you put them out on your paddocks. The most important things to look for are:

  • any injuries that might have occurred during transport
  • any signs of ill health
  • lameness or uneven gait
  • making sure any calves are feeding on their mothers

It is a legal requirement to provide any sick or injured cattle with prompt veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment.

More information

For more information about the welfare of cattle please consult your private veterinarian or local Animal Health staff via our Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

Page last updated: 01 Jun 2021