Live export of sheep and calves has started up from the UK port of Ramsgate. Live animal export and long distance animal transport are serious animal welfare problems and Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming's Chief Executive, will be speaking out against the trade at a protest meeting in Ramsgate tonight, 17 June.
Meeting details are: Tonight, Friday 17 June at 7pm-9.30pm in St Lawrence Parish Hall, High Street St Lawrence, Ramsgate (opposite Total Garage)
Compassion is opposed to the live export and long distance transport of farm animals for slaughter or for fattening. The science shows that long distance transport too often causes animal suffering. Researchers have concluded that for lambs, from a welfare point of view, transport distances and times should be kept to the minimum. Calves recently separated from their mothers are not adapted to the stress of transport. Researchers have said that "transport should be avoided where possible", especially as incidence of disease and death rates following transport can be high.
Animals can become increasingly exhausted, dehydrated and stressed. Some suffer from painful injuries, such as broken legs and pelvises. Due to exhaustion or poor driving, some animals collapse on to the floor of the truck where they are in danger of being trampled by their companions.
With the invaluable help of our supporters, Compassion campaigns for an end to long distance animal transport and live exports. We want strict maximum journey times and much better conditions within vehicles, and care for the animals during journeys. We believe no animal should have to endure a journey longer than eight hours to slaughter or for further fattening.
Partly thanks to this untiring campaigning and lobbying, European Union laws on animal transport have brought in some welcome measures, such as improved vehicles and in some cases, better enforcement of the law. But to this day, investigations by Compassion and other campaigning groups find that the law is flouted and that animals suffer. We still find that animals have been taken on journeys lasting long hours or even days. They may be forced to endure extensive journeys without sufficient food or water, and have to stand on wet, filthy floors. Too often, they are overcrowded and do not have sufficient headroom to stand up comfortably. Our recent investigation provides evidence of poor conditions. Compulsory journey logs, which include transport time, may be completely unrealistic, and yet can just be rubber-stamped by officials.
The calves who have been sent through Ramsgate may be only two or three weeks old. They face a journey across the Channel to an unknown destination. They may be sent to the Netherlands or Belgium where they are too often reared for veal in conditions that would be illegal in the UK on animal welfare grounds. We are shocked that Northern and Southern Irish dairy farmers are sending calves on long journeys for veal production on the continent.
The live export of sheep from the UK is indefensible. UK sheep farmers receive generous subsidies from UK taxpayers. Surely they have an obligation to ensure that their sheep are raised and slaughtered in decent conditions. Those producers who are complicit with the live export trade condemn their sheep to an unknown fate. Some may be destined for France, and recent investigations by the animal welfare group One Voice found dreadful conditions in French slaughterhouses.
In addition to the Ramsgate export, there is a worrying increase in live calf exports from Northern Ireland. Some of these calves are sent all the way to Hungary and Spain.
As part of a long-running investigation into transport from the Republic of Ireland, Compassion in World Farming and Animals' Angels found that an Irish transporter carried young calves from Ireland to Spain without giving the calves the legally-required rest break. The calves were on the vehicle for at least 36.5 hours without being unloaded. This is well in excess of the already overlong legal limit of 18 hours.
The trade in long distance animal transport and live animal exports is a miserable one. The European Union's Treaty of Lisbon requires that: "the [European] Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals". We call on the governments of the European Union and the European Commission to take urgent action to remedy the appalling situation of long distance animal transport and live exports. It is long past time for an end to this outmoded and inhumane trade.
Philip says: "We urge people to join our campaign by writing to their MEPs calling for European action to end the long distance transport trade and impose a total maximum journey time of 8 hours for animals travelling for slaughter or fattening."
- Please write to your MP and to your Members of European Parliament (MEPs), using the template letters below. (You will need to fill in the name and address for the MP and MEP, and include your own name and address.)
Template letter for MP re UK live exports.doc ( 27.50KB)
Template letter for MEPs re long distance transport.doc ( 28.00KB)
- Find your MP
- Find your MEP