Yesterday I proved my competence. Not something I'd normally be able to do, klutz that I often am. But I did do it. Twice. I am now legally certificated (certified?) to transport both pigs and sheep. Good thing too as this year's weaners are being brought home for their joyous outdoor fattening process today.
The computerised multiple choice exams contained a mix of pointless questions (the kind of thing you would expect to be able to check up in a handy notebook kept in your glovebox, as necessary) regarding lengths of journeys and associated paperwork, and things that are absolutely key to animal welfare. Would you haul a pig by its ears or deliberately create mayhem whilst loading your carefully raised livestock into a trailer full of sharp pointy dangerous bits? Not unless you were a sadist.
I can see the point of requiring professional hauliers to take part in a livestock handling course and provide actual evidence of their competence, NVQ style, where observing people in their work situation is key. But filling in a computer test when you may be unfamiliar with a pc, may not be a great reader, but are a responsible driver and have received good training as an animal handler seems a bizarre way of ensuring livestock is actually and not theoretically well treated before, during and after journeys.
As for farmers and smallholders, most of the answers are plain common sense (although the questions trying to elicit that sense can be strangely convoluted to catch out the unsuspecting), and I can't help feel that this process is oddly out of sync with need and reality. Meeting this legal requirement cost me £50 (after having hunted down a cheaper option than I was originally offered). And that was having eschewed the time and £ for the optional prior training course. But I made the best of it; I spent the afternoon with a friend lunching and lounging round Launceston as a pre-exam softener. We both passed.