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Transport of live animals

Please note: The information provided below is a limited selection of the information available relating to this area. You can find more information, publications and forms relating to this area on the main Department website here.

On 5 January 2007 a new EU rule (Council Regulation (EC) 1 of 2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations) on the protection of animals during transport came into operation. The Council Regulation has been given legal effect in Ireland by the European Communities (Animal Transport and Control Post) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 675 of 2006).

The Council Regulation is aimed at improving the welfare of animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, dogs and poultry, during transport throughout the European Union.

Authorisations

Under the Council Regulation it is a legal requirement when transporting live animals on journeys over 65km in connection with an economic activity to be authorised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Further details of authorisations and relevant forms and information booklets, along with lists of authorised transporters are available on our main Department website here.

Important Note: A Transport Authorisation issued by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine does not absolve a transporter from his or her responsibilities in complying with legislation enforced by other Government Departments.

It is important to note that the new rules only apply to the transport of animals undertaken in connection with an economic activity. The transport of animals directly to or from veterinary practices or clinics, under the advice of a veterinarian and the transport of animals to or from shows or gymkhanas by its owner are also excluded from the provisions of the Regulation.

In addition to the above, the requirement to hold a certificate of competence and a transport authorisation does not apply in relation to cases involving a person transporting one animal or where two animals are accompanied by a driver and an attendant who has responsibility for the welfare of the animals. In these circumstances a mare and a foal travelling together may be considered as a single unit.

Farmers transporting their own animals in their own vehicle up to a maximum distance of 65km are also excluded from the main provisions of the Regulation. However, they must observe general conditions for the transport of animals.

Farmers transporting animals on journeys over 65km on a regular basis may have to apply to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for an authorisation. However, in relation to training these farmers will be deemed to have the necessary competence based on agricultural training undertaken in Ireland, the approval process for herd numbers and the availability of a booklet on standards for animal transport.

Commercial transporters transporting animals on journeys up to a maximum distance of 65km are not required to be authorised or to undergo training. However, they are required to carry documentation in their vehicle stating:

The Department recommends that transporters hold on to this documentation for at least 6 months.

Training

The Council Regulation requires that transporters who transport live animals in connection with an economic activity on journeys over 65km may only entrust the handling of animals to staff who have received training on technical provisions of the Regulation. The technical provisions include fitness to travel, the means of transport, facilities and procedures, journey times and rest periods, space allowances and documentation.

The Regulation also requires operators/managers of livestock marts and assembly centres to entrust the handling of animals to staff who have received training on fitness, handling and separation of animals.

Certificate of Competence

Since 5 January 2008, drivers of vehicles transporting cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry on journeys over 65km will be required to hold a certificate of competence.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has approved Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, to provide training and examinations in accordance with the Council Regulation for the transport of livestock. 

Further details of training course dates and relevant forms are available on our main Department website here.

Vehicle Requirements

The design of a vehicle used to transport live animals must be to a standard that it provides for the safety of the animal during loading, transit and unloading and protect animals from unnecessary suffering, injury and from the weather.

The vehicle must be escape-proof and sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the species it is to carry. The walls, partitions, floors and side protection gates must be free of any sharp edges, protrusions, gaps, holes and spaces that are likely to cause injury. Slippery conditions on floors must be avoided. There must be access, with sufficient lighting, to the animals in the vehicle to allow them to be inspected and cared for.

In addition, sufficient space should be provided inside the animals' compartment and at each of its levels, to ensure that there is adequate ventilation above the animals when they standing in a naturally standing position, without on any account hindering their natural movement.

Vehicles in which animals are transported must be clearly and visibly marked indicating the presence of live animals.

Vehicles used for the transport of animals on long journeys must be inspected and approved by the Department of Agriculture and Food. Guidelines on the specifications required for vehicles to be approved, and details for an inspection are available on our main Department website here.

Journey Logs

The Council Regulation requires any person who transports cattle, sheep, goats, pigs or unregistered horses on journeys over 8 hours (from Ireland) in connection with an economic activity to complete a journey log(formerly known as a Route Plan).

The Journey Log will need to be approved by the appropriate District Veterinary Office (DVO). For more information please refer to our main Department website here.

Best Practice Guidelines

The Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) and the Department have drafted guidelines to set out the requirements and best practice in relation the welfare of animals during transport. The Department has also drafted guidelines to set out the requirements to the welfare of species other than bovine, ovine, caprine, porcine and equine species during commercial transport.  Included under this general heading of "other species" are animals such as dogs, cats, small mammals, caged birds, reptiles etc. These information documents and other resources are available on our main Department website here.