Oversized cargoes - heavy. ADR goods - risky. Chemical products - dangerous. Clothing - expensive. Live animals - LIVE! Transportation of any type of cargo is associated with some difficulties, but that last group seems to be particularly demanding. Is it? Or is it a piece of cake? Head of the AsstrA Livestock Logistics Division Yuliana Mosina talks about how the AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG group of companies handles the transportation of live animals.
To which countries do animals travel most frequently with AsstrA?
In the AsstrA Group, we mainly organize the transport of livestock from Western Europe to Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and, to a lesser extent, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The given destinations are particularly popular. Nevertheless, we also carry animals that prefer more exotic trips. We provide such animals with travels to Morocco, Tunisia, Mongolia, as well as to Tajikistan, Armenia and Iran. The demand for "tourist" services for livestock from AsstrA is constantly growing. From January to May this year, AsstrA Livestock Logistics’s number of orders increased 68% vs. the same period in 2017. The turnover achieved in the first five months of 2018 increased by 58% vs. the same period last year. After starting with short routes, today we are able to deliver animals almost anywhere their owners are waiting for them.
Practically any destination – for all species?
Well, we have not had the pleasure of transporting hippos yet, but the future is wide open. AsstrA Livestock Logistics specializes in the transport of cattle, pigs, and sheep. When it comes to the transport of, shall we say, more exotic animals, one of our most interesting projects involved the transportation of animals for a circus. We transported tigers, lions, pumas, and lynxes. The giraffes were also on board. Personally, my favourite are cows. They are extremely intelligent and social. Cows always choose a leader to imitate. When the leader of the herd drinks, the rest drink too. When the leader eats, so do the rest. In addition, cows have the most beautiful eyes and eyelashes in the world.
When organizing the transport of live animals, it must help to know a lot about animals and maybe even be a zoologist?
Sometimes yes, I agree. Such knowledge is very useful.
For example when?
Zoological knowledge is useful even in initial discussions with a potential client who calls the office and wants to carry a bulldog or pug on the plane – doing so is usually not allowed. These breeds are brachycephalic, meaning they have a highly specific nasal cavity structure that makes breathing difficult. Therefore, bulldogs and pugs cannot tolerate high temperatures and pressure changes, which can be fatal for them. Most airlines do not even accept such canine breeds on board. With theoretical knowledge it is possible in practice to give drivers ad hoc instructions if, for example, a cow decides to give birth during transport. All in all, it's more about real-world experience than zoological knowledge from books.
Are dogs the most demanding species when it comes to transport?
Yes, dogs are very sensitive to stress. But in fact, representatives of every animal species feel uncomfortable during transport and in every case special precautions should be taken. For example, pigs drink a lot, while mink give off an unpleasant odor in response to stress. The container or semi-trailer is not their natural environment. Removed from their everyday surroundings, they become very stressed and afraid. That is why it is so important to provide transported animals with the best possible conditions.
What, then, is the biggest challenge in the transport of livestock?
For sure the most important challenge is to protect the welfare of animals on the road, no matter how long the route is. For this purpose, in the first instance specially adapted means of transport should be selected and adequate amounts of food and water should be provided. For loading and unloading, special tools such as overpasses, bridges, or traps are used to prevent slippage. Careful driving with periodic stops at specially designated places for animals to rest are also very important. Additionally, we should not forget about maintaining the appropriate temperature.
Cargo transport is regulated by numerous regulations. What about the transportation of livestock?
Regulations concerning the transport of live animals depend on many factors including the animal species, age, health status, etc. Delivery of cattle, sheep, or horses by road is subject to strict control by the veterinary authorities. Transported animals undergo veterinary and sanitary tests to determine their health status, detect diseases, carry out allergy tests, and give vaccinations. The transport of live animals requires, first of all, the use of appropriate vehicles. This applies to all types of transport. Each vehicle must meet certain conditions and be equipped with an appropriate ventilation system, drinkers, and a GPS navigation system. The trailers should be cleaned and disinfected before each use. The quantitative restrictions on carriage should also be met.
The AsstrA Group cooperates with reliable transport partners. All vehicles and trailers have the necessary set of required permits. Experienced AsstrA specialists choose a vehicle suitably adapted to the transport of a given animal species, taking into account the properties of the cargo and the client's needs. If necessary, our employees prepare multimodal delivery schemes using rail, air, sea, and road transport.
Can everything be predicted?
Transportation – like life – is full of surprises. For example, during the execution of one cattle transportation project in Mongolia, there was no hay to feed the animals. Nevertheless, the experienced AsstrA drivers immediately rose to the occasion by bringing in hay from Kazakhstan and buying it from local residents. Creativity is the key. At AsstrA we like solving challenges.