Preventing downer cows

Posted on Monday, 17 July 2023

As we head into cull cow season, we’d like to highlight the current expectations regarding cull cows and transport requirements.

You can find the guidance on the regulations and the codes of welfare here:

It’s the responsibility of farmers to make sure cows are adequately prepared for transport and are handled in a way that minimises stress and injury. Any animal health issues need to be managed and treated on-farm before transporting. Please consult your vet if you’re unsure if an animal is fit for transport.

MPI has developed the ‘FIT For Transport’ app that you can download to use as check before transporting livestock. It can be downloaded from the Apple store or Google Play Store.

Lactating dairy cows are at high risk of experiencing metabolic crises associated with the stresses of feed withdrawal, transport, and lairage. To prevent downer cows, careful preparation and management is needed prior to transport:

  • Dry-off animals adequately
  • Ensure to respect the stand-off feed period prior transport:
    • Lactating cow: max 6 hours
    • All other cows: a minimum of 4 hours but no more than 12 hours

For more information, MPI provides a pamphlet on animal welfare regulations for dairy cows:

Dairy cattle pamphlet - Animal Welfare Regulations 2022 (

Any questions, please get in touch with us at

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