Livestock are susceptible to over-exertion in the early phases of the live export process. Animals may be at risk if they are big and fat, sick, very thin, very young, or heavily pregnant. Risk is exacerbated if animals are handled and transported over long periods without a break. They may suffer muscle soreness, sore feet, bruising, dehydration, low blood sugar, sleep deprivation and possibly hyper- or hypothermia depending on weather conditions and availability of shade and windbreaks.
Exhausted animals may be reluctant to move or stand. Closer examination may detect closed eyes, unsteadiness and muscle tremors. Urine may be dark from myoglobin and dehydration. Differential diagnoses include hypocalcaemia, pregnancy toxaemia and transit tetany.
Provide food, water and shelter and undisturbed time for rest. Administration of oral fluids containing electrolytes by stomach tube, and subcutaneous calcium borogluconate may accelerate recovery in very weak animals. Do not allow cattle to remain recumbent for more than an hour otherwise compressive muscle and nerve injury may occur.
Provide periods for rest, feed and water during transport and handling especially during climatic extremes. Use low stress animal handling methods.