- Date posted: 28th February 2023
New study will assess the impact of ferrying livestock
A new study led by Scotland’s Rural College (SURC) will assess the impact that ferry journeys have on livestock being transported between the Northern Isles and Scottish mainland. The project’s aim is to maximise animal welfare while avoiding significant constraints on this important trade.
The study will focus on the movement of livestock from Orkney and Shetland to Aberdeen, where journeys typically take between 9-15 hours.
Researchers will combine analysis of existing data on animal transports with new data collected on several ferry crossings. Animal behavioural responses will be monitored during and after a journey and correlated with data on temperature, humidity and motion measures of the vessel.
Livestock in the Northern Isles can be transported by ferry on a number of occasions during their life, but most commonly in the autumn to allow access to adequate nutrition and shelter in the winter months. Journeys may also be required to transport animals to market and for slaughter.
Professor Simon Turner, lead researcher from SRUC’s Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research Group said: “Livestock transport is an essential part of agricultural practices - if these animals do not make these journeys, there is a welfare risk of prolonged hunger from inadequate feeding, or housing in crowded conditions on their home farms. However, it is important that the welfare of animals during the ferry transport is maximised as much as possible.
“Being able to provide evidence-based advice on when animal welfare will be most impacted by journey conditions will be important for providing animal welfare policy that protects livelihoods as well as animal welfare.”