Animal health and welfare

The advice sheets below have the latest information on animal health and welfare. If you need more advice call 01753 475111 (Regulatory Services option).

The welfare of animals during transport


In the guide

If you transport animals as part of your business, they must be fit for the journey and must not suffer unduly during it

This guidance is for England

Under EU Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations (implemented in England by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006) farmers transporting their own animals, by their own means of transport, for a distance of less than 50 km (about 31 miles) from their holding, must ensure that the animals are fit for the intended journey and that no person transports or causes animals to be transported in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering.

Those transporting animals in any other circumstances must, in addition to the above welfare requirements, carry an animal transport certificate (ATC). A transporter authorisation and certificate of competence are also necessary when transporting animals over a distance of 65 km (about 40 miles).

The Regulation applies to persons who transport live vertebrate animals within the European Union (EU), including farm livestock (cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry, deer and horses) in connection with an economic activity (in other words, a business or trade).

The Regulation does not apply to the transport of animals when not in connection with an economic activity or to the transport of invertebrate animals. However, a general duty-of-care provision exists protecting invertebrates and animals involved in non-commercial movements from injury or unnecessary suffering.

Principal requirements

All persons who take animals on a journey, whatever the length, have a duty to ensure that the animals are transported in a way that is not likely to cause injury or undue suffering.

Farmers transporting their own animals, in their own means of transport, for a distance of less than 50 km from their holding or as part of transhumance (seasonal movement of livestock) must ensure that:

  • no person transports an animal or causes animals to be transported in a way that is likely to cause injury or undue suffering
  • all necessary arrangements have been made in advance to minimise the length of the journey and meet the animals' needs during the journey
  • the animals are fit for the journey
  • the means of transport (including the means of loading and unloading) is designed, constructed, maintained and operated so as to avoid injury and suffering and ensure the safety of the animals
  • the personnel handling the animals are trained or competent in the transport of animals
  • the transport is carried out without delay and the welfare conditions of the animals checked during the journey
  • sufficient floor area and height is provided for the animals
  • the animals are watered / fed and rested at suitable intervals as necessary

Documentation required

Persons transporting animals in any other circumstances must, in addition to the above requirements, carry documentation known as an animal transport certificate (ATC) in the vehicle stating the:

  • animals' origin and ownership
  • number and species of animals carried
  • place of departure
  • date and time of departure
  • intended place of destination
  • expected duration of the intended journey

A template form can be found on the GOV.UK website (scroll down to 'Animal transport certificates').

An animal movement document for sheep and goats (ARAMS-1) and pigs (eAML2 / haulier summary) may be used as an animal transport certificate for those animals providing all the sections on the form are completed. The ARAMS-1 form may be carried by the haulier as a paper copy, or as an electronic copy as long as it can be printed for an inspector during the journey if requested.

The information required should be completed at each stage of the journey and must be made available to an inspector if requested. The ATC must be kept by the transporter for six months after each journey.

Any person transporting animals over a distance of more than 65 km must also:

  • hold a 'transporter authorisation' issued by Defra
  • have received training in the handling of animals and obtained a certificate of competence

Livestock must always be identified in accordance with the relevant legislation, and species-specific documentation must accompany the animals during transport. For further information see our guidance relating to goats, sheep, cattle, pigs and horses.

Fitness of animals for transport

Animals must be fit for the intended journey before the journey starts and must remain sufficiently fit throughout the journey. If any animals do fall ill, they must be separated, given appropriate veterinary treatment and if necessary undergo emergency slaughter or killing in a way that does not cause them undue suffering.

Animals that are injured, weak or diseased must not be considered fit for transport, particularly if they:

  • are unable to move without pain, or to walk unassisted
  • have a severe open wound or prolapse
  • are pregnant females for whom 90% or more of the expected gestation period has already passed, or they are females who have given birth in the previous week
  • are newborn mammals in which the navel has not healed
  • have been submitted to veterinary procedures in relation to farming practices such as dehorning or castration and the wounds have not completely healed

Sedatives must not be used on animals to be transported, unless under veterinary supervision.

Lactating females (cattle, sheep and goats) not accompanied by their offspring must be milked at intervals of not more than 12 hours.

Transport requirements for young animals

Pigs under three weeks old, lambs under one week old and calves under ten days old must not be transported, unless they are transported for a distance of less than 100 km (about 62 miles).

Appropriate bedding must be provided for:

  • piglets of less than 10 kg
  • lambs of less than 20 kg
  • calves less than six months old

The bedding material used must ensure adequate absorption of urine and faeces.


An attendant must accompany the animals except where the driver performs the functions of an attendant.


Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement & penalties'.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: November 2018

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

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