Inspecting animals for diseases in the live export process can be challenging because of the difficulties in observing individuals either in feedlot enclosures (pre-departure or post-disembarkation) or in ship-board pens. Sick animals may be easily missed as yards and pens may be dimly lit and crowded and they often lie down at the back of pens and yards, where there is more room away from feed or water troughs.
Under harsh conditions there will be normal animals functioning on the edge of, or temporarily outside normal ranges of physiological parameters. Their signs must not over-interpreted as disease to avoid instigating unnecessary treatments.
At sea, inspections are usually done twice daily because it is important to detect problems early to maximize opportunities for successful management or treatment. It can be time consuming, monotonous work and difficult to maintain concentration when large numbers of animals on multiple decks must be checked.
This chapter provides information on inspection methods to meet these challenges, including what to look for, how to interpret some of the signs encountered and some useful measurements that can be made.