Transport of livestock and poultry in hot weather

by 5m Editor
14 July 2004, at 12:00am

NORTHERN IRELAND - Transporting farm animals during spells of hot weather can cause special problems, particularly when lorries of metal construction are stationary and exposed to the sun for long periods.

Bearing in mind that more animals found dead at their destination are killed by heat stress than any other cause, hauliers are advised to take the following steps to reduce the risk of subjecting livestock to heat stress in transit:

  1. Avoid journeys of long duration and, if possible, travel in the morning or evening, when temperatures are lower. This is of particular importance when catching and conveying poultry.

  2. Fans should be used in chick delivery vans.

  3. Open all flaps over ventilation openings.

  4. Use pen partitions of open construction to allow free airflow within the vehicle.

  5. Allow adequate floor and air space around each animal. This may require a reduction in the total number of animals normally carried. In the summer, make plans to adjust the stocking of poultry on the basis of an up-to-date weather forecast.

  6. In very hot weather, it is preferable not to leave animals in a stationary vehicle for any length of time e.g. on board a stationary poultry transporter the air temperature in the immediate vicinity of the birds is often 10°C more than that outside the vehicle. Producers are advised to plan the supply of poultry to the slaughterhouse so that they arrive 'just-in-time'. However, if any of the above are unavoidable:

    • park in the shade, away from high objects - such as walls, which restrict airflow;

    • open the rear door to allow greater airflow through the whole length of the vehicle;

    • if there are any escape proof fittings, open all access doors; and

    • if possible, spray the vehicle with cold water and in the case of pigs, spray the animals as well.

    • Avoid excessive disturbance to stock during loading, carriage and unloading. Ideally, supplementary fans should be fitted in the walls of houses and switched on during loading in hot weather, whilst ventilation slots are closed to darken the house.


Further advice on all these matters can be obtained from the Department's local Divisional Veterinary Offices. Advisory booklets, containing advice on the control of heat stress during transport, are available free of charge from these offices.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development wishes to remind pig farmers that at this time of year pigs can suffer from heat stress, which may lead to the death of the animals. In addition to heat stress, direct sun can cause sunburn in pigs which is a cause of unnecessary suffering to the animals.

To ensure that any stress is minimised, vehicles used for the transport of pigs must have a weatherproof roof, which can be either solid or have a covering such as tarpaulin. If a tarpaulin is used, it must cover the vehicle properly so as to protect the animals when the vehicle is being used. Ventilation must not be compromised by the position of the roof. Pigs should be loaded and transported as early as possible to avoid the heat of midday and pigs going for slaughter should be scheduled into the abattoir in such a way as to minimise waiting time.

Source: Department of Agriculture and Rural Development - 15th July 2004

5m Editor