An undercover investigation released today by leading farm animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming, has revealed the horrific suffering animals endure on long distance journeys from the UK to mainland Europe, and beyond.
Every year, thousands of British farm animals face long and gruelling journeys overseas for fattening or slaughter. Forced to travel for hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, animals routinely experience pain, stress, overcrowding, exhaustion and dehydration. Some even die in these horrific conditions.
Actor and animal welfare activist, Peter Egan, who narrates footage of the investigation said: “It is astonishing and frankly unacceptable that in 2019, calves and sheep are still being exported from the UK in these abysmal conditions. Too many animals have been forced to suffer these intolerable journeys for too long and urgent action must be taken now to stop this cruel, outdated trade once and for all.”
Unweaned calves, just a few weeks old, are regularly transported from Scotland to Spain. Compassion investigators recently followed one of these trucks over a three day period.
One investigator, who took part in the trail, said: “I could clearly hear the calves crying inside the lorry after loading. They sounded extremely distressed and frightened. I can only imagine the fear of being forced into a cramped, dark truck, away from their mothers. It was an emotional experience and very harrowing to witness.”
The truckload of young calves took more than eleven hours to reach the Port of Ramsgate from Southern Scotland. They were showing clear signs of distress. Crammed into the truck, the calves were crying out and biting at the bars (commonly a sign of hunger and thirst).
Following hours on the motorway, the calves then faced an exhausting five and a half hour sea crossing to Calais on-board the Joline. The truck then continued by road through France. After travelling for 20 exhausting hours, the calves were finally unloaded at a lairage for a 24-hour rest period, required by EU law.
A day later, the calves were squeezed into the confines of the truck once again, to continue their onward journey. The investigators followed close behind until aggressive behaviour from the truck driver forced them to abandon the trail. From France, these calves may have travelled for hundreds more miles, to Spain or beyond, destined only to be fattened for slaughter on arrival.
“Our investigation reveals the shocking reality of UK long distance live transport, but sadly, this is just one example of the cruelty that millions of animals suffer worldwide, as a result of this cruel and unnecessary trade,” explained Natasha Smith, Campaigns Manager at Compassion in World Farming. “For as long as animals continue to face these hellish conditions, we will continue to expose this suffering.
“The UK has an opportunity post-Brexit to end this suffering. It’s time for the Government to take action and enforce a UK-wide ban on live exports for slaughter and further fattening.”
To support Compassion’s campaign, please visit ciwf.org.uk/EndLiveExports