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Department Cautions on Heat Stress of Farm Animals in Intensive Units, at Pasture and During Transport

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today reminded all farmers and transporters of livestock that farm animals are at risk of suffering from heat stress during hot summer weather. This particularly applies to pigs and poultry, while either housed or during transport.

All those in charge of animals on-farm and/or during transport are legally obliged to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to prevent any unnecessary suffering. To minimise stress during high climatic temperatures, preventative steps should be taken to ensure that the animals can cope. These include: increased frequency of inspection of animal behaviour, reduction in stocking density, provision of adequate ventilation, increased water supply and availability, provision of additional cooling mechanisms and shade from the sun.

Farmers with animals at pasture should ensure that they have sufficient shade and adequate supplies of water. Sheep which have not yet been shorn should be attended to without delay.

Additional stand-by arrangements should be made with the abattoir to allow for increased cull rates to reduce stocking densities and to minimise queuing times on arrival.

The Department emphasised the importance of farmers and transporters anticipating difficulties which might arise as a result of prolonged periods of high temperature and making the necessary contingencies, as well as ensuring immediate remedial action should difficulties become apparent.

Date Released: 10 July 2013