30 hours on a truck, the terrible transport of lambs for Easter

© Essere Animali


30 hours on a truck, the terrible transport of lambs for Easter

Francesco Ceccarelli
Head of investigations

Between 25 and 28 March, we travelled 2,500 km on the motorways on the border between Italy and Slovenia to monitor the conditions under which lambs are transported to the slaughterhouse for the Easter period.

Every year, Italy imports hundreds of thousands of lambs from different European countries, especially from Hungary and Romania. In 2019 there were 773,300, about 33% of all lambs slaughtered in our country. The journey to Italian slaughterhouses is often torture for these animals: they spend up to 30 hours crammed into overcrowded trucks, with no food or water.

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A few days before Easter, we decided to carry out an investigation at the border between Italy and Slovenia. This route — which more than 100,000 lambs passed through in the same period last year — was also manned by other organisations, including Animals’ Angels. For 50 hours we followed the trucks from Eastern Europe and documented the travel conditions in which the animals are confined. In some cases, we reported irregularities to the competent authorities.

What we saw during the investigation

During the days we spent on the road, four of the trucks we followed were stopped by the police and two of them were fined for having insufficient space and unsuitable watering systems. The penalties amount to 1300 and 3000 euros.

A lamb tries to drink but fails to activate the water dispensing system.
© Animals’ Angels

A few days ago, a truck from Hungary that was heading to Puglia and was stopped on the A13 Bologna-Padova received a fine of 15,000 euros because it was transporting lambs in extreme conditions, and yesterday we heard that another lamb transporter was fined (5,000 euros) by the Road Police near Altedo (BO). In any case, we are talking about derisory figures when compared to the income from a truckload of lambs in the Easter period: from the information available to us, the value of a truckload of 500 lambs is around 40,000 euros. As denounced over the last few years by various organisations including Animals’ Angels, which deals specifically with animal transport, the minimum reference regulations are frequently violated.

Road police check that took place after our report near the Florence – Scandicci motorway exit.
© Essere Animali

Transport of live animals: unacceptable conditions

The main problems encountered in the transport of lambs are as follows:

  • overcrowding: the animals are too crowded because the specified density is not respected;
  • danger of injury: the trucks are not suitable for transporting lambs, so the animals get stuck in dangerous spaces with the risk of getting hurt;
  • travel in distressing conditions: the height of the various floors is not enough to allow the lambs to stretch their neck as their heads touch the ceiling;
  • dehydration: the watering system is often not working and is not suitable for lambs, which do not know how to use the drinkers;
  • excessively long journeys: journeys take 24-30 hours. The main countries of departure are Hungary and Romania with the destination of Lazio or Puglia, where there are large slaughter plants dedicated to sheep.
If eating puppies is already questioned by many people, transporting them for an entire day is something intolerable, especially if done in the ways we have documented.

By means of this investigation, we wanted to contribute to the campaigns conducted by several European organisations to stop – at the very least – the long journeys that animals have to endure, including in Europe.

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