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Heatwave: Action needed to protect farmed animals

News Section Icon Published 12/08/2022

Cattle being transported and thermometer showing 37 degrees
Cattle being transported across Europe in hot weather

With extreme temperatures expected in the UK over the next few days, we have written to the Government urging them to stop the transportation of farmed animals during the heatwave, unless absolutely necessary.

Heatwaves like this can be fatal for farmed animals, particularly in overcrowded indoor factory farms or while they are being transported. UK law requires vehicles that transport farmed animals to be ventilated to keep temperatures below 30°C – but this will not be possible in the temperatures expected, which is why journeys must be suspended.

Giving animals more space

Compassion is also urging farmers to make sure their animals are kept safe and as cool as possible as the high temperatures persist. This can be done by increasing indoor ventilation, giving animals more space, and making sure they have access to shade and plenty of fresh water.

Last week, it was reported that millions of factory farmed chickens in the country died slow and painful deaths in sheds from heat exhaustion during the record-breaking heatwave in July.

Suspend long journeys

Phil Brooke, our Research Manager, said: “In the extreme weather conditions expected, it’s vital that Defra suspends any long journeys for farmed animals to avoid undue suffering from heat exhaustion.

“The heat inside the trucks can be unbearable with animals desperately panting for air. Long journeys should be suspended and short journeys should only take place if absolutely necessary and at night when it’s cooler. Sufficient water must also always be within reach to avoid dehydration.

Access to shade and water

“It is simply not possible to ventilate lorries so that temperatures remain at a reasonable level in temperatures over 30 degrees. That’s why we’re calling on Defra to suspend long journeys and to issue advice to farmers to improve ventilation and reduce stocking densities in what are often already overcrowded indoor factory farms. Animals reared outdoors must have access to shade and fresh water at all times.

It also cannot be ignored that the livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gases – more than all direct emissions from the transport sector. Meat producers and suppliers must therefore implement more sustainable systems, retailers must demand higher welfare standards and consumers must engage and acknowledge how their food choices impact on our environment.”

Read more about the transportation of farmed animals.


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