Transportation of lambs: the results of our investigation on the Slovenian border

© Essere Animali

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Transportation of lambs: the results of our investigation on the Slovenian border



Francesco Ceccarelli
Head of investigations

Last weekend we went back to the Italian-Slovenian border to check the truckloads of lambs. Close to the Christmas holidays, the number of imports of lambs from Eastern Europe rise precipitously.

Those who follow us on social media know already: last weekend we were on the border between Slovenia and Italy and documented the conditions of 7 4-storey trucks carrying lambs under 3 months old. The animals came mainly from Romania and Hungary and for most of them the journey ended in the slaughterhouses located in Lazio and Apulia regions, after 24-30 hours spent on the road.

Watch the investigation

In 2021, in the days before Christmas, over 600,000 lambs were slaughtered in Italy, about a quarter of those killed during the entire year. Of these, one in four was imported from abroad.

If you have already watched the investigation we carried out before Easter, the images we collected will not surprise you, because they are not at all different from those of a few months ago.

What we documented

Overcrowding to the point that it is impossible for all the animals to access water, as well as the risk that they trample each other whenever someone wants to sit down to rest.

Insufficient heights in the compartments
The lambs touched the upper level of the compartment with their head, but the legislation provides that there must be a space of 30 cm between the roof and the animals’ heads when they are in an upright position, otherwise they risk getting bumps, bruises and injuries.
© Essere Animali

Dangerous gaps between floor and wall and between internal dividers and shelves. As we have documented, animals risk getting stuck inside them.

Lambs can’t drink
The water system was found to be inactive during transport and was only activated during travel breaks. In some cases it didn’t work anyway. Furthermore, even when it did work, lambs were too young to be able to use it.

During our monitoring activity I was interviewed by a journalist from Tgr Friuli Venezia Giulia. This means that our campaign for a better legislation for animals during transport found a place on national TV.

Few official checks and regulatory gaps

Animals are forced to travel for more than 20 hours with little or no water and in overcrowded conditions. This is a clear example of the regulatory gaps we want to denounce. In April this year we managed to have sanctions issued, while on this occasion, despite having reported suspicious problems to the police in both Udine and Gorizia, this did not happen. On the one hand, this is due to the insufficient number of forces deployed, on the other, to the limits of the European legislation, currently being reviewed by the Commission.

Regarding the first point, it is exemplary that last year, only 3% of the trucks carrying lambs from Romania were checked. The same fate befell the one million cattle transported from France and the more than 800,000 pigs arriving from Denmark, with 4.6% of journeys checked. Of the more than 66,000 consignments of live animals that arrived in Italy, only 152 sanctions were issued.

Regulation on the protection of animals during transport needs to be updated

Through this investigation, our aim is to to put pressure on the European Commission so that this same legislation is updated and made more adequate in protecting animals.

Besides being frequently violated, the EU regulation is unable to protect animals. This demonstrates how important is it to revise the regulation.
Simone Montuschi – President of Essere Animali

Not only illegalities cause suffering to animals, but also circumstances that comply with current legislation. The new legislative proposal is expected in 2023 and Italy can play an important role by supporting an ambitious proposal for the protection of animals raised for food. We will inform the European Commission and the Minister of Health of the outcome of the roadchecks that we have carried out on the border again this year, providing images that document an alarming reality. Together with other NGOs from across Europe we are calling for more protections, such as a ban on the transport of live animals over long distances, a reduction in travel hours and a ban on the transport of unweaned animals. The European Commission has the opportunity to really improve the conditions of animals and must not ignore the demands of its citizens.

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