2012: Live animal exports to Turkey

Compassion in World Farming’s Investigations Unit, working with international NGOs Eyes on Animals and Animal Welfare Foundation, have undertaken a number of investigations into the export of live animals from the European Union to Turkey.

What we found was shocking.

Every year, over 3 million animals are shipped live from the EU to countries outside the EU. These animals often travel in cramped conditions and can experience huge variations in temperature on their journeys, which makes suffering inevitable.

All too often they are subject to long delays at borders and customs posts, which can last hours or even days. In many cases they’ll remain on the trucks as there may not be facilities for them to be unloaded and properly rested, fed and watered. Many do not survive these journeys.

  • Bull gazing through truck bars.

    Bull gazing through truck bars.
  • Bulls stuck at Turkish customs point.

    Bulls stuck at Turkish customs point
Read the eyewitness accounts of our investigators

Hungary to Turkey

Compassion’s investigators trailed consignments of slaughter bulls from Hungary and Slovakia to their final destinations in Turkey. In both cases the bulls were kept on the trucks for nearly 60 hours in very high temperatures throughout their journey.

For the first time, our investigators documented lengthy delays for European animals within Turkey. The Hungarian bulls were stopped at a customs post and with no facilities to unload or feed the animals here they remained on the truck for 20 hours. Failures in the automatic water system on board the truck and water troughs full of excrement led to the bulls being given water manually by the drivers using plastic crates. Using electric goads and poles, the drivers became aggressive to the bulls and it is far from clear whether all the bulls were able to access the water.

A cruel end

Our investigators trailed the Hungarian bulls to a slaughterhouse and witnessed the brutal death of one of the bulls too weak to get up after collapsing on unloading. A crane and winch was brought in and the bull was dragged back to the ramp area by its rear legs where it had its throat cut – an inhumane death without stunning. It was then lifted to the slaughter area and butchered later that night.

Latvia to Iraq

In another alarming incident, documented by an Eyes on Animals/Animal Welfare Foundation team, a truck was transporting bulls from Latvia to Iraq. Having travelled over 2600km to reach the Bulgarian / Turkish border, the truck was delayed at for 6 days whilst the appropriate documentation was obtained from the authorities. Once the truck was granted permission to continue its journey through Turkey, it had a further journey of 2000km to travel in order to reach their destination in Iraq. The end these animals met is not known.

A massive trade

In the first 8 months of 2014 1,728,288 live cattle and sheep were exported from EU countries to Turkey and a whole range of countries in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Year on year this trade is growing. Inevitably, it means more and more suffering for animals.

Some of the major problems these animals face are:

  • Severe overcrowding; insufficient headroom during transport
  • Inadequate ventilation and extremes of temperature
  • Lack of water
  • Lengthy delays at border crossings and customs posts
  • Transport, handling and slaughter conditions that cause immense suffering and would be illegal in the EU.

Compassion in World Farming are calling for the EU to end the export of live animals to non-EU countries in order to prevent this totally unnecessary suffering.

An ongoing issue

Compassion in World Farming has undertaken multiple investigations over recent years to expose this cruel trade. We have repeatedly highlighted the many problems occurring, but sadly due to the inaction of the European Commission the terrible treatment of exported European animals continues today.

What you can do

This evidence shows the clear need for an end to live exports from the EU to non-EU countries. Please act now to stop this trade by sending our document summarising the animal welfare problems involved, to the EU Commissioner.

Take action

View the investigation film and briefing document sent to the European Commission by Compassion and our supporters.

Could you support our work to put a stop to long distance transport with a donation?

Compassion receives no government funding, and our campaigns to protect animals from cruelty depend on the generosity of supporters like you. If you are able, please consider making a donation to Compassion today.


Compassion in World Farming would like to thank Aston House Stud for generously supporting its 2012 investigation.


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