Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Traumatic Injuries


Traumatic injuries are generally accidents involving one animal injuring another, or when an animal falls or strikes the surrounding infrastructure (flooring, fence, gate). Injuries may be penetrating or non-penetrating, and usually fall into the categories of fractures, dislocations, bruising and wounds. 

Physical injuries can occur throughout the export process. Slipping and being trampled or mounted during transport or yarding are probably the most common circumstances where traumatic injuries occur. Poorly designed or maintained facilities such as yards, laneways, fences, gates and flooring, may increase the risk of injury to animals while being housed or handled. Poor stockmanship, including rough handling and applying excessive pressure, may also contribute to risk of injury. 

Individual animals may be injured by inappropriate restraint or handling such as dragging an animal by a front or hind leg. 

See downer, gastrocnemius muscle rupture, haematoma - cutaneous, knuckling, lacerations, lameness and spinal cord injury for more information.

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

An animal that is bright and alert with a sudden onset of inability to stand or walk properly is a strong indicator that traumatic injury may have occurred. At necropsy, fractures, dislocations, wounds, subcutaneous bruising, haematoma, and cellulitis or other forms of infection may be present.


Animals with severe injuries (such as fractures) that interfere with walking, eating and drinking, should be euthanised without delay. 

Animals with wounds should be isolated to a clean area and the wounds cleaned (see Lacerations). Topical treatment may be considered with antiseptic and fly repellent. Antibiotics (procaine penicillin, or oxytetracycline) should be administered if there is a risk of secondary infections, especially following biting or penetrating wounds. Administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (flunixin meglumine, ketoprofen, meloxicam, or tolfenamic acid) if animals are in pain. 

Lame animals should be moved to a hospital pen with uninhibited trough access. 

Dislocated joints require early intervention and expertise for successful reduction. Xylazine sedation or anaesthesia may be necessary to facilitate reductions.


Handling facilities should be designed and constructed to minimise risk of injury to animals and people, and regularly checked for hazards. Personnel should be trained in low-stress animal handling to ensure that animals are handled in an appropriate way to minimise stress and injury risk. Group animals according to size, sex and horn length. 

At discharge, sick and injured animals should be penned and unloaded separately from healthy animals so that they are not trampled. Use low stress handling and transport methods.