Following on from the introduction of new Australian Animal and Welfare Standards Guidelines which came into effect in September 2012, Queensland now has new laws for transporting livestock. The compulsory code of practice commenced on the 31st January 2014. A grace period of six months will apply and enforcement of these laws will commence from the 1st August 2014.

Under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, any person in charge of an animal has a duty of care to maintain the animal’s welfare before, during and after transport. This includes the person supplying the livestock for transport, the transporter and the person receiving the livestock at their final destination. As such the responsibility is shared by all involved in the process and all are now accountable for their responsibilities.

Whilst the new laws have specific regulations for different types of livestock the following are applicable to cattle and provide a synopsis of the rules and are in no way complete.

Key Features include

  1. Livestock must be fit for travel. Livestock are not fit if they:
    1. are unable to walk bearing weight on all legs
    2. are heavily pregnant within 4 weeks of calving and time off water is to be greater than 4 hours
    3. gave birth within 72 hours prior to loading
    4. are visibly dehydrated
    5. are severely emaciated
    6. are severely distressed or injured
    7. are suffering a condition that is likely to increase pain or distress during transport process
    8. are blind in both eyes
  1. Travel arrangements: Before transporting cattle the person receiving the cattle must be notified of estimated time of arrival.
  1. Ensuring suitability of the transport vehicle:
    1. Adequate airflow appropriate to the type of cattle being moved
    2. Suitable flooring that prevents slipping or falling
    3. Free from objects or protrusions that could cause injury
    4. high enough to minimize injury
    5. ability to segregate unfamiliar groups and aggressive cattle
    6. correct load density
  1. Alignment of loading ramps. Both the transporter and the person responsible for loading the cattle must ensure that the vehicle and the ramp are properly aligned and close together to reduce the risk of injury to the livestock. NB: Even a small gap can cause a calf to break a leg.
  1. Handling of livestock. This includes:
    1. No kicking, punching or striking of animals
    2. No lifting or drag by one leg
    3. No electrical prodders on cattle less than 3 months of age
    4. Prodders cannot be applied to the face, udders, anus or genitals
    5. Restrict & muzzle biting dogs and not to be used on bobby calves
    6. Only guardian dogs can travel in same enclosure as livestock
  1. Calculating length of spell and time off water. Spell time starts from when the livestock are unloaded from its transport and time off water starts from the time the livestock had reasonable access to water before starting the journey.


Class of cattle Maximum Journey Time (hours Maximum time off water (hours) Minimum spell duration (hours)
Between 24 and 37 weeks pregnant 24 24 12
Greater than 37 weeks pregnant 4 4 24
More than 30 days of age but less than 6 months 24 24 12
Lactating cattle with dependent young 24 24 12
Any other cattle 48 48 36


When spelling cattle they should be unloaded, have access to water and space to lie down. Feeding is not recommended for shortstops of less than 12 hours. Detailed guidelines for feeding cattle for each 24 hours they are at a facility are provided in the guidelines.

The aim of these new laws are to reduce the stress and any potential injury to the animals whilst being transported. Hopefully all producers will adhere to them, as there could be serious consequences for those who don’t.


  • Queensland Animal Care and Protection Act 2001: Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012
  • Australian Animal and Welfare Standards and Guidelines: Land Transport of Livestock. Edition 1 Version 1.1 21 September 2012


Margo Hayes author of Small Cattle for Small Farms published by CSIRO