Live animal transport in Italy: temperatures up to 40°C and no water

© Essere Animali


Live animal transport in Italy: temperatures up to 40°C and no water

Francesco Ceccarelli
Head of investigations

Our investigation on the A1 motorway shows the terrible conditions in which animals are forced to travel on their way to slaughter in Italy. We need clear and adequate legislation.

In these days of extreme heat, our investigators went along the A1 motorway, between Lodi and Bologna, to carry out monitoring activities and document the conditions of the animals transported for food production. During the road trip we monitored and intercepted some trucks used to transport live animals, following them until they arrived at the slaughterhouse.

Watch the outcome of our monitoring activities

What we have documented is disconcerting: means of transport travelling with an external temperature of 36°-38°C and that, upon arriving at the slaughterhouse, stop for 30 minutes in the sun before unloading the animals. Pigs are forced to stay in the truck with internal temperatures above 40°C.

We need clearer transport regulations

Unfortunately, current regulations (in particular Regulation N.1 / 2005 on the protection of animals during transport) do not specify temperature limits inside or outside the vehicle for journeys of up to 8 hours, (or 12 if an exemption is granted). The only generic provision is that the means of transport are able to protect animals from ‘extreme temperatures’ and do not expose them to ‘unnecessary injury or suffering’, but this request is not complemented by specific provisions for each species and category of animals.

The lack of objective parameters of reference consequently creates a vast unregulated grey area, which in fact does not allow to intervene appropriately when the welfare of the animals is not respected during journeys of up to 8 hours.

With a heat gun we measured the temperature inside the compartment of the truck where the animals were transported.
© Essere Animali

Long journeys and heat stress

In a note issued at the beginning of June and addressed to the Direction of the Traffic Police, to the trade associations of lorry drivers and veterinarians, the Ministry of Health required that the transport of live animals must not be carried out when atmospheric temperatures are above 30°C at the start of or during the journey. However, what we have documented shows that these provisions are not effective, in practice, and greater legislative protection is needed during these operations.

These dramatic images of gasping and stressed pigs were filmed from 12pm to 3pm, during the hottest hours of the day.

If we allow transport for several hours when the outside temperature touches or exceeds 30°C, the pigs inside the trucks, due to crowding and the body heat produced, will be forced to withstand temperatures around 40°C. But the scientific literature indicates that for adult pigs the thermoneutral zone – that is the range of temperatures within which the animal is able to maintain its normal body temperature – is approximately between 8°C and 25°C. Animals transported in these days of high atmospheric temperatures were therefore subjected to stress and suffering. This does not protect their welfare.

Our data analysis shows that the number of pigs being transported to slaughtehouses during summer remains virtually unchanged. The Italian Zootechnical Registry shows that in July 2021, 887,246 pigs were taken to the slaughterhouse and 925,581 in August, while the peak was in March with 1,066,790.

Our requests to the EU and the Italian government

We have said it several times recently: the European regulatory system is absolutely inadequate in actually protecting animals during transport. Through the No Animal Left Behind campaign, coordinated by Eurogroup for Animals and supported by dozens of NGOs from all over Europe, including us, we ask:

  • that the transport of live animals over long distances (lasting longer than 8 hours) is prohibited
  • introduction of a range of acceptable external temperatures between 5°C and 25°C for journeys up to 8 hours, outside of which any transport is prohibited
  • that fundamental parameters must be clearly defined, such as species-specific and categories-specific conditions for the suitability for transporting animals, as well as the availability of space and method for water administration.

It is clear that the current European laws for the protection of animals are incomplete and inadequate, so we ask the European Union and the Italian government to align the new legislative proposal with current scientific and ethological knowledge.

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