Livestock can be carried by NorthLink Ferries - contact the Freight Department for more information


Our livestock service is provided as part of our lifeline service commitment to the islands. All livestock is transported under strict welfare requirements and we are continuously monitored by Animal Health (APHA) and local council Environmental Health departments.

All our shipments are transported in accordance with EEC regulation 1/2005 and also WATO legislation guidelines. You can request these documents by contacting Customer Service Centre on 0845 6060 449.

Animal Health and Inspections

We are approved and continuously monitored by the Animal Health Service and local council Environmental Health departments, with regular visits to our ports.

Vets regularly travel with the animals on-board our vessels, on scheduled and un-scheduled inspection visits.

Travelling onboard our vessels

Livestock containers and cowsNorthLink Ferries Livestock containersAnimals are loaded into containers from our shoreside lairages, and are loaded on board the vessel.

Once on-board, each container is securely lashed to the deck in accordance with International Standard ISO9367, ensuring that the container does not move at all while the ship is in transit.

While in transit, animals are regularly monitored by members of crew, who are fully trained in animal welfare and handling

Transport Containers

Food in the Livestock containerFreight livestock container interiorWe have a range of double and single deck livestock containers operating on our Aberdeen – Kirkwall – Lerwick service.

The containers have several key design features to ensure that high standards of animal welfare are maintained during transit. These include a ‘hospital’ pen capability, solar powered inspection lights, and an integral ladder that allows inspection of the upper deck. Water is provided constantly through connection to the vessel supply, feed is also provided through integral feed racks and an innovative effluent storage system. This means that animals are transported in optimal welfare conditions while onboard our vessels.

Livestock on Stromness-Scrabster Route

NorthLink horseboxUnaccompanied livestock services using our livestock containers is not available on our short sea crossing between Scrabster and – Stromness

Unaccompanied travel can be arranged for customers using their own livestock trailer or horsebox, our staff can load and unload the trailer from the vessel at each port, then arrange the return of the empty trailer to the port of origin. Please note we have no lairage facilities at these ports to allow the transfer or transiting of animals between vehicles or trailers.

Customers intending to use this route must also comply with all the relevant transportation of animals welfare regulations and guidelines.

Lairage and Livestock Staff

NorthLink Ferries livestock lairageNorthLink Ferries Livestock containers at HatstonAt our lairage facilities located in the ports of Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

Dedicated staff trained in animal welfare are available to handle livestock.

Our lairages are built to the highest animal welfare standards. Shoreside lairage facilities are monitored on a continuous basis by the Animal Health (APHA) and local council Environmental Health departments.

Hatston Lairage, Kirkwall

Hatston Lairage is available to stock which have made a corresponding journey with NorthLink Ferries.

In order for us to provide a greater level of service to our customers we request that the use of Hatston for Lairage be booked in advance. This should be done by contacting the NorthLink Ferries Freight department by phone or by emailing Freight.

Collection and delivery of stock should coincide with the Hatston Lairage opening times, as follows:

Monday08:00 – 19:00
20:00 – 23:00 (March to October only)
Tuesday20:00 – 23:00 (March to October only)
Wednesday to Saturday08:00 – 10:00
14:00 – 17:00
20:00 – 24:00
Sunday20:00 – 23:00

Given vessel arrival times, we understand the requirement, particularly for North or South isles customers to collect animals the following day and will provide Lairage overnight to this effect. However, we reserve the right to charge for additional Lairage over and above this as required.

Full details of our lairage, and the regulations that are followed, can be obtained by contacting our Customer Service Centre on 0845 6060 449.

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