Animals are very demanding and delicate ‘cargo’. Practice shows that some of them are injured or killed as a result of improper transport conditions. Inspections revealed that the driving time is often too long without breaks for rest, watering and feeding and that the driving technique is not suited to the circumstances (e.g. sudden braking and fast cornering).
Just over a decade ago, the European Union introduced amended, stricter rules on the conditions for the transport of live animals. This caused, among other things, changes in the construction of the fleet dedicated for this purpose.
It is necessary to ensure the comfort of the animals in transport. Therefore, the condition of vehicles, ventilation, cleanliness, partitions, locks, flooring (litter), lighting, loading and unloading equipment are important. The carrier must also comply with the Regulation of the Minister of Infrastructure, which specifies the following:
– the conditions of transport,
– the length and frequency of stops on the route,
– maximum travel time.
The vehicle must allow, inter alia, airflow (insulated rigid roof or tarpaulin), protect animals from severe weather conditions and prevent them from escaping or falling out.
Design of trucks for animal transport
Vehicles for transporting animals look quite typical and are similar to each other. The example vehicle is based on a steel body frame and has a roof controlled by hydraulic cylinders, made of sandwich panels. This gives the possibility of lifting it by several dozen centimetres and thus allows to increase the cargo space of individual decks, while providing better ventilation. Individual decks must be fitted with movable partitions. The chassis shall be fitted with a locking and securing system. It is a mechanical system consisting of several sets (usually 4-6) of bushings and pins (depending on the length of the chassis). It is necessary to equip the body with a gangway in the rear part (with folding side barriers and doors). Door leaf pairs shall be of such dimensions as to permit the closure of the individual transport decks.
The cargo space should be divided into sectors, thus eliminating the risk of animals accumulating in one part of the body.
The body shall be sealed so as to prevent the leakage of impurities outside the vehicle and also leakage from the upper decks to the lower decks.
Additional requirements are imposed on the transport of pigs. The transport area must consist of three decks (floors), one of which (bottom deck) must be fixed and two movable.
Monitored transport of animals
Vehicles for transporting animals, in addition to strictly technical requirements, must also meet the requirements of specialist regulations. In addition to forced ventilation, there are also temperature recording systems, watering systems for animals, and GSM modules for monitoring.
Transportation of animals on European roads are monitored by satellite to facilitate random sanitary and veterinary checks. For carriers, this means that GPS transmitters must be installed in the vehicles.
Each animal must be provided with space large enough to allow it both to stand and lie down and to have access to water and feed. The right temperature for animals is 5-30 degrees Celsius. The total capacity of water tanks should be at least 1.5% of the maximum loading weight. These tanks should be equipped with a water level control system and the watering system must ensure that the animals have access to the water in each compartment.
The EU directive completely prohibits the transport of young animals over a distance of more than 100 km.
It can happen that an animal carrier becomes a vehicle manufacturer. This was the case with Plavac, which has been operating on the Polish market for a quarter of a century. Initially, it dealt with international trade and transport of cattle, and for more than 15 years it has also been producing vehicles for animal transport. It installs electronic scales and helps to obtain their legalisation.
Jegger is one of the leading manufacturers of vehicles for animal transport. It offers, among others, closed bodies, designed to transport various types of animals (not requiring a specific transport temperature), protecting them from the influence of external factors such as rain, snow, wind.
There are many design options, e.g. solid walls, walls with vents closed with a slide or tarpaulin, the roof made of aluminium panels, the roof of aluminium structure covered with laminate, tarpaulin roofs. The intermediate frame is made of aluminium, the floor with anti-slip tight aluminium panels and walls made of anodized aluminium panels. Two rows of milled profiles are used, and an aluminium gangway is operated by gas cylinders. Aluminium railings are installed on the gangway to protect animals during loading and unloading. Barriers separating animals are installed inside. The standard equipment also includes floor-mounted drain valves.
Vehicle suppliers stress that, in fact, each vehicle is tailor-made according to the customer’s individual order, which allows for full customisation.
Loading, parking and driving rules
EU legislation clarifies the obligations of the driver/animal transport operator. First of all, they must take the weather into account when planning the transport, and check that all animals are fit for transport. It is important that the animals are loaded and unloaded gently and properly and that they have all the identification documents they need. It is recommended to load only those animals that are suitable for transport. The truck should be parked as close to the loading and unloading area as possible, avoiding (as far as possible) extreme weather conditions. Before loading, partitions, space and ventilation should be checked, whether there is sufficient feed and water and whether the watering system for the animals is working properly. It is worth checking how the temperature monitoring works.
The carrier’s and escort’s licence, the permit and the certificate of approval of the means of transport must be checked.
It is necessary to ensure adequate feeding and watering conditions during each break. A contingency plan should also be drawn up to deal adequately with unforeseen events. In the event of a delay or accident, the transport operator should be contacted (close cooperation between carrier and shipper) to establish the best plan to protect the animals and minimise their suffering.
Purely practical recommendations for drivers transporting live animals include, for example, calm driving, smooth gear shifting, special care when cornering and, if possible, maintaining a constant speed. Sudden braking should be avoided. Planning arrangements should take into account the need for maximum route reduction, e.g. driving on motorways (consideration of tolls).