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Exported Irish calves suffer nightmare journeys

News Section Icon Published 17/08/2016

A new investigation has shown that young, unweaned calves are being exported live from Ireland and other EU countries in horrific and completely unsuitable conditions.

Calves barely 10 days old are loaded onto trucks and sent on journeys as long as 27 hours, deprived of food and water.

Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zürich, supported by Eyes on Animals and Compassion in World Farming, have investigated the live export of calves and lambs that are still on a milk diet by looking at 11 different journeys within the EU between 2014 and 2016.

Ireland is a major culprit, as the 8th largest exporter of sheep and the 10th largest exporter of cattle within the 28 EU member states. Ireland exported nearly 80,000 unweaned calves in 2015.

One journey documented in the investigation shows calves in transit from Ireland for more than 27 hours without access to liquid or feed. Two of the young calves died before reaching their final destination.

Investigation footage shows calves overloaded in trucks without enough space to lie down. The conditions are so cramped that they bang their heads against the ceilings, and the sharp edges inside the truck pose a risk of injury. No adequate drinking facilities for the young calves are provided, which contravenes the recommendations of the EU Commission for the transport of unweaned animals.

Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming’s CEO, said: “I am appalled by the awful suffering endured by these poor calves and lambs. It is a truly horrific and unnecessary journey for such young, vulnerable animals to be subjected to.”

This investigation shows that during long distance live transport of unweaned animals, Article 3 of the European Regulation 1/2005 on transport is systematically violated because it is impossible to provide the animals with appropriate feed and water. Complaints have been sent to the relevant authorities of each member state.

The organisations involved are calling for an 8-hour limit on the transport of unweaned calves and lambs, since it is technically impossible to give them food and water.

Compassion in World Farming has been fighting to stop live exports for decades. This year, for the first time ever, hundreds of campaigners across the globe from over 30 countries, and 28 animal protection organisations are joining ranks for a global day of action against long distance live animal transport on the 29th August.


Notes to Editors:

Footage of the investigation can be found here. Footage of the Irish transport begins at 4min30secs.

A full report detailing the voyage from Ireland and the other EU countries investigated is available on request.

Exported Irish calves suffer nightmare journeys 17th August 2016.pdf:

Download (PDF Size 0.18MB)

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