The study was conducted to evaluate the effects of different lairage time after 8 h road transport on some blood indicators of welfare and meat quality traits in sheep. A total of 84 Ujimqin male sheep (average body weight 27.5 kg, 6 months old) were randomly allotted to one of seven groups: one control group (untransported) and six lairage groups (8 h road transport with 0, 2, 6, 12, 24 and 48 h lairage times respectively). No significant lairage time effects were observed on weight loss. Sheep in 48 h group showed lower hot carcass weight, dressing percentage and higher pH24 h than that in other groups. The total haem pigment contents in sheep meat rose and were higher in 24 and 48 h groups than that in the control group. After transport, sheep in 0, 2, 24 and 48 h groups showed higher serum creatine kinase activities, cortisol and glucose concentrations than that in control group. Sheep in lairage groups had higher serum triiodothyronine and thyroxine levels compared with the control sheep. Sheep in 48 h group showed significant higher packed cell volume, total protein and blood urea nitrogen than that in other groups. Compared with the control group, the white blood cell counts were higher in 0 and 48 h groups. The neutrophil counts in 24 or 48 h groups were higher than that in the control group. The opposite was true for lymphocyte counts. A 6–12 h lairage is recommended in terms of the present transported pattern.