From Cargo Handbook - the world's largest cargo transport guidelines website
Infobox on Animals
Example of Animals
Origin -
Stowage factor (in m3/t) -
Humidity / moisture -
Ventilation See text
Risk factors See text


Shipment / stowage

Live animals. Before accepting animals for transport, a checklist to cover all aspects of carriage should be prepared. Consideration should also be given to local protest groups concerning this type of transport.

The checklist should include export/import regulations in the countries of origin and destination, transit permission through ports en route and quarantine rules applicable. Veterinary health certificates are required and also arrangements aboard ship for the provision of housing, exercise, feeding, lighting, grooming and general animal welfare.

If the shipper does not provide for special attendants: one or more members of the crew must attend.

The transport of animals is subject to legislation in many countries. Where risk of disease may exist this legislation is rigorously enforced. In most cases the legislation not only covers the importation of animals, but also the transit of animals, through a port. For instance it may not be possible to carry certain livestock because of the national regulations of way ports that the ship may call at. A typical case in point here is the Australian requirements regarding the African horse fly; the regulations are such that if a vessel has passed within 50 miles of the coast of Africa, then any horses carried on that vessel for Australia might not be an acceptable import to that country. Over and above regulatory requirements, there is the need for humane and hygienic treatment and conditions for animals transported by land and sea. Guidance for individual species' requirements may usually be obtained from local zoological societies and similar organisations. A large part of the ensuing recommendations has been derived from some such source. Categories of animals may vary enormously from full shiploads of, say, sheep, to a single domestic pet (e.g a dog) which requires no more than the attention of an individual member of the crew during the passage. Animal rights groups are exerting considerable pressure on shipowners to ban the transportation of live animals in ships not fitted for the purpose. They have been largely successful with ferry operators carrying animals in transporter lorries.

The most stringent regulations apply to even-toed ungulates, e.g. pigs, cattle, etc. As mentioned above many countries have very strict requirements.

Careful study of these regulations and any that may apply from other countries should be carried out prior to shipment of any animals from one country to another. It is also imperative that the correct documentation is prepared, e.g. import certificates, health certificates, veterinary certificates, etc., prior to shipment. Typical of the areas covered in the regulations over and above documentation will include: the quantity of any particular animal permitted to be carried at one time in the space available; the size of pens or cages; the strength requirements of fittings, etc.; the food requirements; fresh water services; access; ventilation; lighting; fire fighting appliances; whether animal stalls may be carried more than one tier high.

Crates and cages should be stacked with proper protection against both heat and cold. Where possible provision should be made to set up awnings on deck to give shelter from the sun, rain and wind for those cages and animals which require it. The close covering of cages with tarpaulins in hot weather will cause undue suffering to the occupants of cages. Cages can be stacked on hatches where they are less exposed to bad weather and there is less danger of seas and spray reaching them. If, however, the ship is due to call at intermediate ports where loading or unloading will take place, enquiries must be made beforehand as to which hatches will be in use so as to avoid shifting the boxes. Where animals are carried in freight containers, particularly on cellular vessels, care must be exercised to ensure that those particular containers are protected from extremes of heat, cold, rain and spray. Where animals have to be taken out for exercising e.g. dogs stowage positions should be such that this may easily be achieved. To provide adequate ventilation it is almost certain that adjacent container slots will need to be left vacant. This vacant space may under certain circumstances be utilised partially as storage area for food and equipment, and access for the handlers. In the case of larger animals the stowage position (whether in containers, or as general cargo in crates) should be such that access can be achieved should the animal need veterinary attention during the voyage, or for removal of the carcass should the animal die. This last is most important on vessels without gear, and could mean the butchering of the animal to dispose of the carcass. It is important to make allowances on cellular container vessels, when animals are carried in freight containers, to allow sufficient container space for the carriage of the necessary food and bedding. Such containers should have their doors readily accessible at deck level, unrestricted by lashing arrangements.

Food, Water and Bedding
An ample supply of food and bedding for the voyage must be placed on board at the port of embarkation, unless firm arrangements can be made to replenish supplies en route, and a margin should be allowed for delay. Proper arrangements should be made for stowage of food on board, where it can be reached easily during foul weather. Only sound food should be given and this, as well as bedding, must be stored in a dry place on board. Full written instructions for feeding, watering and cleaning should be fixed to the front of each box and full power should be given to the man in charge to replenish stocks of food if necessary at ports of call. All drinking vessels should be kept carefully scoured, and only fresh water used. Suitable food for ruminants consists of lucerne, or clover hay, meadow hay, grain, chafe, crushed oats, maize, or other grain. Also appropriate food concentrates in the form of pellets or cake supplied under proprietary brand names. In the case of carnivorous animals it may be possible to store the Frozen Meat in the ship's stores, if there is appropriate separation or barriers for hygiene requirements. Where this is not possible a refrigerated container capable of carrying at correct temperature would be ideal. Refrigerated carriage may also be necessary for fruit, eggs, milk, etc., for the animals. Milk can most probably be carried as condensed tinned milk. Carnivores need be fed only once a day, preferably in the late afternoon. Ruminants and all other animals should be fed twice a day early morning and early evening. Animals should, as a general rule, be watered two or three times a day, but more frequently in hot weather. If the drinking vessels are removed after the animals have drunk, there is no risk of the water being fouled nor can the animals knock against them and be frightened. Carnivores should be provided with shallow metal receptacles. Ruminants should be watered in the same manner as horses, small donkeys or goats, according to size. Straw or hay makes suitable bedding for most animals, and it should be removed every morning. For kangaroos, oat-chafe is most suitable. Soft hay should be used for all animals provided with sleeping boxes. Bedding should be changed as required, and careful attention paid to the possibility of livestock eating the bedding and suffering accordingly. In the case of ruminants the container space used for food and bedding very often exceeds that required for animals and should be planned accordingly.

It is most important that all animals have adequate ventilation except in the case of some reptiles. Ventilation must be such that the animals are not exposed to strong winds and spray in the process of being ventilated! In some cases, e.g. 'tween deck stowage, and some container stowage, mechanical ventilation may have to be provided.

Adequate artificial lighting will have to be provided particularly in 'tween decks and possibly in containers. Lighting will allow the handlers to better attend to their charges, and may also provide a soothing effect on the animals themselves. More careful attention to lighting and heating maybe required in the caseof small animals, birds and reptiles.

The type and size of animal will dictate the frequency of cleaning of pens and cages and containers that is required. Adequate services should be provided in the vicinity of animals to allow proper cleaning to take place, e.g. hose connections, power points, etc. It is important too that adequate drainage is available and such that any cleaning water does not blow back on board in the process of draining. All boxes and cages should normally be cleaned out at least once every day. As salt water is injurious to many animals it should be used with discretion for washing out large cages. Disinfectants if used at all, must be used very sparingly, with great care. All the smaller cats should be provided with shallow trays containing earth or sawdust, which must be changed daily.

Appropriate medical supplies for each type of animal and length of voyage should be placed on board prior to departure from the port of loading. Appropriate humane killers as prescribed by regulations, and the type and size of animals should be placed on board at port of loading. Other equipment such as buckets, brooms, shovels should be supplied in adequate quantities to avoid having to use ships' supplies. In many cases ships do not carry sufficient of this type of equipment to allow their use for other than ships' work. Stowage for this equipment should be supplied and, in the case of medical supplies, humane killers, etc., should be safe from unauthorised access.

Where ten or more head of large animals are carried, a handler (or handlers) may need to travel with the animals. This should be adequately investigated in advance, with handlers of suitable expertise and experience, and the appropriate arrangement made for transfer from the vessel at the port of final destination. It is important, too, that the necessary accommodation is available for such handlers and of course victuals, bedding, etc. For small animals, and small quantities of animals, members of the crew might reasonably be expected to act as attendants. For hygiene purposes such animals should not be allowed into the accommodation.

Small animals such as dogs, cats, monkeys, etc., may be a subject of interest to crew and passengers. Precaution should be taken to prevent any teasing taking place or ad hoc feeding with titbits, etc. Some individual animals become extremely nervous if peered at by a procession of strange human beings. Crates, pens, stalls, etc.. must allow adequate room for the animals to move, while providing appropriate support against the rolling and pitching effects of the vessel. Adequate head room, particularly with regard to horses, is most important.

Other dimensions can also be extremely important; certain species of antelope when taking fright exhibit the reflex action of trying to bound away, and it has been known for these animals to break their neck if restricted by, for instance, the wall of a cage. Heights, lengths and widths of stalls, crates or pens with regard to mammals are frequently governed by legislation in countries of origin or destination. Certain animals are dangerous if approached too closely by those who are not their regular handlers. Appropriate notices should be displayed for crew, passengers, etc., where this applies. Different types of mammals have different requirements:

May weigh from 810 kg (16 cwt) to 1,270 kg (25 cwt). Carried on deck at shipper's risk, clause Bill of Lading "ship not responsible for mortality". For short passages in fine weather latitudes they are just tethered to a line spread fore and aft along the deck. Some of these animals are very vicious and given to biting any stranger within reach. Wounds so inflicted are very apt to become septic, and however slight, should be given early and careful treatment. Camels should be well watered before embarkation. For other than short passages, allow ten gallons of water, three or four pounds of grain, in addition to green foodstuffs per day.

The voyage itself may form part of the quarantine period for the country of destination. It is important therefore that no contamination, e.g. from personnel, etc., should take place at way ports during the voyage. Vessels are usually exempt from all claims with respect to mortality, and bills of lading should be claused accordingly. Attendants are usually supplied and their wages paid by the shippers. Charter party or contract should embody a provision to enable the owner to recover all expenses incurred in respect of these men - usually the victuals are provided free of charge by the ship - including expenses for repatriation which may amount to a large sum. They sign on ship's articles and are in all respects to be subject to the discipline of the ship to the Master's authority.

Horses and Mules
Usually subject to statutory regulations of the country of origin and/or destination. The average weights of horses: heavy horses, 712 kg (14 cwt); cavalry, 560 kg(II cwt); light horse, 406 kg (8 cwt). Animals suffering during the voyage from broken legs or other serious injury must be slaughtered by direction of the Master, hoof or other marks noted and the incident recorded in the log. Slaughter should be carried out using an approved humane killer. The vessel is usually exempt from all liability in respect of mortality or injury to animals, and the bill of lading should be claused to that effect. Wet, mouldy or loose hay should never be accepted, no matter by whom supplied, and the bales should be sufficiently well bound to keep them intact while being handled. Times of feeding and watering are usually prescribed by the shipper whose representative generally proceeds in the ship. Usually horses and mules are fed and watered three times a day morning, noon and evening. Owing to their heating properties it is not customary and neither is it wise, to feed oats until the voyage is well advanced and then not heavily. Dead animals should be got overboard as soon as possible, as they quickly fill with nauseous gas offensive to both man and beast, and every effort should be made to avoid entering port with carcasses of animals recently dead on board. Where a choice exists, horses should not be positioned facing over the side of the vessel. No attempt should be made to reduce the scantlings of fittings to horse boxes, stalls, pens, etc., below those recommended or required by law. The weight of an animal such as a horse or cow in a heavy seaway can put enormous pressure or battering ram effect on all such fittings.

Until recent years sheep were carried in small numbers in essentially similar conditions to other agricultural stock. However, the carriage of sheep, particularly from Australasia to the Persian Gulf, has become a major trade and in the main converted vessels now carry as a specialist operation live sheep of up to and in excess of 100,000 head. This clearly requires different techniques in feeding. Prior to the vessel's arrival, sheep are transported close to the loading place and their feeding is converted until they are able to thrive on pellet food. Once this has been done, they are ready for loading. Mortality rates of under 1-2% have been frequently achieved during the passage.

Carried on deck at the shipper's risk. Bill of Lading to be claused "Ship no responsible for mortality". They may also be tethered in a suitable position on appropriate vehicle decks on Ro-Ro ships. A fully grown animal is three tons and over and varies from 2,286 mm (7' 6") to 2,743 mm (9') in height. Special slings must be used for lifting these animals. Allow 115 litres (25 gallons) of water and 270 kg (600 lbs) of green foodstuff per day for each full grown animal.