Live animal exports from the European Union

A message for the European Commission

The EU exports around three million farm animals a year to non-EU countries. The animals – cattle, sheep and pigs – are sent to the Middle East, North Africa, Russia and the former Yugoslavia.

As you will see from the accompanying briefing document and film, the long journeys regularly cause immense animal suffering.

In the name of trade

This film features scenes of animal suffering and may upset some viewers.

Read the briefing document: Export of live animals from EU to non-EU countries

Severe overcrowding, inadequate ventilation and filthy bedding are common problems in the livestock trucks. The animals often receive far too little food, water and rest. The water systems sometimes do not work or are empty with animals becoming desperately thirsty. Heavily pregnant animals sometimes abort or give birth on the truck. During the long journeys some animals fall ill, others get injured and yet others die.

The largest trade is that to Turkey. Here the problems that are inherent in the long journeys are compounded by lengthy delays at the border between the EU and Turkey. During these delays – which can last hours, even days – the animals are often left on the trucks with inadequate food and water. In the sweltering heat of summer these hold-ups can lead to extreme suffering.

The EU’s live export trade undermines its claim that good animal welfare is an important European value. The principle that should guide the trade in live animals has been succinctly expressed by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe which stresses that “Animals should be reared as close as possible to the premises on which they are born and slaughtered as close as possible to the point of production”. The export of live EU animals to distant countries such as Russia, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya runs completely counter to this principle.

We urge the Commission to bring this inhumane trade to an end as a matter of urgency.

Share this page