Transporting Angora goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Monday, 15th April 2019

It is important to minimise stress to the goats during any transportation to ensure their welfare.

There are two kinds of transport stress

  1. Short acting- have emotional effects.

These include fear, unfamiliar surroundings, unstable footing, and movement of the vehicle

  1. Long acting- accumulate over time while being transported.

These include noise, vibration, (noise has more of an impact on stress than motion) lack of exercise, prolonged standing, no food and water, forceful contact between animals and vehicle

The stress responses of goats due to transportation begin decreasing within 3 hours after transportation. However blood tests show transportation stress may have a prolonged effect on goats that could affect their immune system (susceptibility to disease such as ‘shipping fever’ and parasites)

To minimise stress the farmer needs to recognise some of the signs of stress during transport:

  • Goats continue to scramble for footing and remain vocal, bleat.
  • Goats involuntarily lie down and may not be able to get up.
  • Goats pant when overheated. Animals standing with neck extended and with open-mouthed breathing indicate severe heat stress.
  • Increased respiration rate, Increased heart rate

Inspection, Watering and feeding prior to loading the goats

Goats shall be provided with sufficient and suitable food and fresh water up to commencement of the journey.

All goats must be fit for transport.

The following goats should not be transported unless to receive treatment or veterinary care.

  • Injured, weak or disabled goats
  • Those not able to stand unaided and bear their own body weight on each leg

Goats must be inspected for signs of pain, injury, distress at regular intervals during the journey. Treatment, corrective actions or euthanasia must be carried out as soon as practically possible.

 If circumstance justify this then this should not be longer than 50km or 2 hours.


 Loading and off-loading procedure

  • Manual handling or restraining of goats shall be performed with one hand/arm (or base horn) and the other placed around the rear.
  • Loading and off-loading of livestock into or out of a vehicle shall be accomplished as quietly and calmly as possible, with patience and tolerance and without undue harassment, causing fright to the animals, bruising, injury, suffering or any other form of undue stress.
  • Ramps should not have an incline of greater than 27 degrees.
  • Load goats carefully, do not lift by horns, ears, hair or legs. Lift supporting their body
  • Animals shall be promptly off-loaded on arrival at the destination. Goats should not be dropped, dragged, pulled by the fleece, tail, ear, head, neck or legs.
  • Goats must not jump from a height greater than 1.5m and must land on their feet


Vehicles used in transport

Vehicles must be licensed and roadworthy

All such vehicles and trailers shall meet the following requirements:

  • A suitable non-slip floor.
  • Adequate ventilation and lighting whilst in motion as well as when stationary; no vehicle shall be totally enclosed.
  • Side-walls must be high enough to prevent a goat from escaping or falling out of the vehicle.
  • The build-up of harmful gases, faeces and urine must be prevented
  • Faeces and urine must not discharge onto goats on decks below.
  • Protection from cold or heat stress must be enhanced
  • The density of goat packed into any given space shall be such as to ensure their safety and comfort. The average recommended floor space per animal is:
  • Shorn goats and kids of >26kg 0.2-0.3 m2/animal
  • Unshorn goats 0.3-0.4m2/animal
  • Heavily pregnant ewes 0.4-0.5m2/animal.
  • Different age groups should be kept apart and may require more or less floor space.
  • Stop and check on the goats after the first hour of the trip and every 2-3 hours afterward.
  • Keep goats dry.
  • In hot, and particularly, humid weather take precautions to avoid heat stress. Upper limit of heat tolerance for goats is 35 to 40 degrees C. Overcrowding creates severe heat build-up. Reduce the loading density by 15% from normal on hot/humid days. Schedule transportation for night or early in the morning. Keep the frequency and length of stops to a minimum to prevent rapid build-up of heat. Do not park a loaded vehicle in direct sunlight.


Restraint of goats during transport

  • Goats may not be kept in restraint for more than 4 h in any 24-h period.
  • No wire or bailing twine shall be used for tying a goat’s legs or feet.
  • To avoid strangulation or neck-break, a slip knot may not be used where animals are secured to the vehicle by the horns or neck. The rope must be attached to the vehicle at the level of the goats ‘knees’, so that in the event of the goat falling, the possibility of serious injury or death is reduced. The rope should be long enough to allow a goat to lie comfortably in a natural position with the head in an upright position.


Duration of transport:

Goats should be transported for the shortest possible time without prolonged stops.

Goats are unlikely be transported for more than 24 hours in South Africa but if that was the case then goats should have a period of 12 hours rest after 24 hours of travel. Goats between weaning and 18 months should have a 12 hour break after 18 hours of transportation. When they should be:

  • Unloaded
  • Have access to feed and water
  • Have enough space for exercise


The Code of Practice for Handling and Transport of Animals may be visited at or Responsible Mohair Standards (RMS) Transport Guidance



The farmer must keep a record of any injury and death associated with all transport of their goats



SAMGA sustainable Guidelines

Responsible Mohair Standards (RMS)

Leon Kruger, Landbou Navorsingsraad, Irene

Drs. Faffa Malan, Veeartskonsultant, Shaun Morris  Voerkraalkonsultant, Pof. Gareth Bath, Voorsitter van die LWCC

Transportation of goats: effects on physiological stress responses and live weight loss.

Kannan G1, Terrill TH, Kouakou B, Gazal OS, Gelaye S, Amoah EA, Samaké S


Lowering Stress in Transported Goats

Craig Richardson, Animal Care Specialist

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