App launched to stop the transport of weak animals

MPI admits unfit animals do arrive at abattoirs, but recent figures could not be obtained

A mobile app to help farmers determine if an animal is fit for transport has been launched, after New Zealand’s government admitted unfit animals have arrived at abattoirs.

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said most livestock professionals were aware of the requirements for healthy livestock transportation. But government vets at slaughterhouses were still seeing some animals arrive that should not have been removed from farms, MPI claimed.

The mobile app aims to reduce this happening. Designed with industry and veterinarians, the app, which does not require internet access, consolidates animal welfare laws to give farms easy access to import legislation.

New Zealand livestock farmers, stock agents, truck drivers, veterinarians and staff at meat companies all have responsibilities to protect animals during transport enshrined under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The Codes of Welfare for Transport within New Zealand 2011 also sets out guidelines on how the supply chain can move animals around safely.

Collective responsibility

Dr Chris Kebbell, director of verification services at MPI, admitted some animals arrived at slaughterhouses that should not have made the trip. Instead of pointing the finger at anyone, Kebbell said the welfare of livestock was a shared responsibility.

Animal welfare is everyone’s responsibility and farmers, transporters, stock agents and veterinarians all have a role to play in ensuring only fit animals are transported,” he said in a statement.

The information in the app is based on the transport requirements in the codes of welfare for dairy cattle, deer, sheep and beef cattle.

The Fit For Transport app was developed under an MPI operation dubbed ‘Safeguarding our Animals, Safeguarding our Reputation’. New Zealand’s government said the app was a tool to improve industry-wide voluntary compliance with animal welfare transport requirements.

Livestock transport problems

In the past, the global meat industry has encountered problems in its ability to ensure proper animal welfare standards are followed when livestock is transported.
 
New Zealand is one of a few globally leading meat producers that has banned the export of live farm animals for slaughter, bringing in legislation in 2007.

But the European Union (EU) has been hit with problems more recently. An undercover investigation this year revealed alleged horrific treatment of EU livestock exported to the Middle East, putting pressure on Europe to phase out live animal trade.

Australia, too, has had its problems. Last year an investigation found some Australian cattle shipped to Vietnam had been beaten to death with a sledgehammer.

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