Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zurich, supported by Eyes on Animals and Compassion in World Farming, secretly tracked live exports of calves and lambs transported within the EU between 2014 and 2016.
In one case from April 2016 Irish calves, in a lorry owned by Hallissey Livestock Exports, were shipped continuously for over 27 hours without access to water or feed. Pictures taken by activists showed extremely cramped conditions inside the lorry with a number of obtuse metal objects at head height capable of causing injury to the animals.
The conditions were so bad that two calves died before reaching their final destination, a detailed report from Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zurich claims.
Hallissey Livestock Exports was not able to provide comment.
Turning a blind eye
The undercover investigation was carried out between 8 and 10 April 2016, where welfare activists followed two different livestock transporters from Castleblayney and Killarney in Ireland into France.
Such were the conditions on one lorry that the animal activists have written a letter to the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis. A spokesman for Compassion in World Farming told this site they were “urging the member states not to turn a blind eye [to the law] and to strictly enforce the regulation concerning the transport of unweaned animals”.
Under Council Regulation 1/2005 of EU policy governing the transport of unweaned calves, Article 3 states: “No person shall transport animals or cause animals to be transported in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to them.”
The animal rights groups claimed the 27-hour journey the young calves endured was in breach of this regulation, with a total of six violations believed to cause “undue suffering”, including insufficient space and lack of feed.
Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming’s CEO, said in a statement: “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.”
The organisations involved are calling on the EU to enforce an eight-hour limit on the transport of unweaned calves and lambs.
Between 2014 and 2016, Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zurich have led a clandestine operation tracking the live export of calves and lambs still on a milk-based diet over 11 different countries within the EU.
Ireland is the 10th-largest cattle exporter out of the 28 EU members, shipping 141,510 live cattle in 2015.