Ships that are used for the purpose of transferring cattle across the seas are known as livestock carriers or cattle ships. Without the help of such ships, livestock transportation and livestock shipping would have been extremely difficult or completely impossible.
The animals that are used in such livestock carriers include sheep, goats, cows and other forms of cattle. Such transfer of cargo with animals as the main items of transportation is carried out as an import-export operation. This is why all animal cargo-carrying operations are required to be approved and licensed by the appropriate authorities.
There are mainly two different types of such cattle ships. These two differences are not in the weight-carrying capacity but in the storage aspect of the livestock that these ships carry. In terms of the weight-carrying capacity the ships used for livestock transportation are capable of hauling and carrying around 2000 to 2500 dead weight tonnage (DWT). This is quite high especially considering the amount of cargo that is required to be ferried in the form of livestock.
The two main variations in the vessels used for the purpose of livestock shipping can be elaborated as follows:
Open Livestock Carrier Vessels
As their name goes, these types of livestock carrying vessels store or pen the animals openly. ‘Openly’ does not mean that the animals are left without proper containment. It means that the cages or storage areas for the animals are situated on the deck-side area of the ship. This type of penning of the animals ensures that all the animals get ample breathing space and there is no possibility of suffocation. But the major disadvantage of this sort of penning is that since these pens are located on the decks, the continuous sea-winds that blow increase the possibility of the animals getting adverse reaction to such winds. This is why in order to solve this problem, the concept of Closed or Mechanical Livestock Carrier Vessels emerged.
Mechanical Livestock Carrier Vessels
As mentioned in the previous point, the continuous winds and the ill-effects that these winds tend to have on the livestock led to the concept of the mechanised or closed pens. These closed pens are not located on the deck but are situated in the interior of the ship (below decks) where the winds cannot reach the animals. Such closed pens require continuous monitoring because if they are carelessly left untended, then due to the lack of cleanliness and hygiene, the animals could contract diseases and die even before reaching the intended port of destination.
It has to be noted that such livestock carriers also needed to carry huge and enormous amounts of food, water and any other material that could be needed by the animals at any point of time. Also important is the number of crew present in such cattle ships. Since the animals are more in number, the amount of crew also needs to be more so as to effectively handle the livestock present in the ships.
Livestock transportation is very difficult and risky. But with the help of livestock carriers, livestock shipping has become much more feasible and efficient in today’s times. Cattle ships offer proof that not just human passengers and goods can be transported across the ocean and seas – even animals can.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Marine Orders. Livestock.