Animal transport cruelty does not stop at Christmas – our investigation on lamb trade from Eastern Europe

© Essere Animali

Reading:

Animal transport cruelty does not stop at Christmas – our investigation on lamb trade from Eastern Europe



Chiara Caprio
Institutional relations manager

Our team, alongside other associations committed to the issue, carried out inspections on trucks coming from Eastern Europe which were transporting lambs directly to the butcher before the Christmas festivities – spending 6 days on the A4, 30km from the Slovenian border.

Once again inspections carried out on the Italian roads paint a dramatic picture of live animal transport in the EU, which involves 90 thousand lambs imported from the rest of Europe in December. In fact, right at Christmas one quarter of 2 million lambs slaughtered during the year in Italy are killed – especially in the Puglia and Lazio regions: about 552 thousand animals.

Watch the investigation

The images gathered during this period, together with Animals’ Angels, Animal Welfare Foundation and Enpa demonstrate several problems:

  • Animals dead and crushed by companions;
  • Unsuitable troughs: do not allow animals to quench their thirst for the entire duration of the trip;
  • Trucks so made as to put the safety of the animals at risk;
  • Inadequate height of levels: the animals touch the upper level so travelling in an unnatural position;
  • Overcrowding and poor hygienic conditions of the bedding.

All the problems regarding the transport of lambs from Eastern Europe

Of the 8 trucks which the authorities were alerted of, all were stopped by the police and 1 surely fined for more than 10 thousand Euro.

Almost all the problems have already been documented in the past by numerous investigations: these are clearly systemic infringements on the regulation of long-distance animal transport which reveal all the shortcomings in the current legislation.

Inadequate height of levels
To guarantee the normal behaviour of animals during the trip, in addition to proper ventilation, the animals’ heads should not touch the upper level.

Among the problems we have documented: the inadequate height of the levels does not allow the animals to be in a natural position, the space is insufficient and not suitable for animals to move or lie down, inappropriate troughs prevent the lambs from drinking, the presence of dangerous gaps in which the animals risk getting caught, little bedding and overcrowding.

Unsuitable troughs
‘Nipple Bar’ troughs are mounted in almost all trucks transporting sheep, a type which is not suitable for these animals as they do not know how to use it – being used to ‘Cup’ troughs on farms.

Unlike the past, with this occasion some of the investigators found sheep of different ages and sizes on the same truck, a situation contrary to the legislation prohibiting the transport of animals of different sizes as the little ones risk being crushed and injured by the older ones.

The most striking case was that of one truck stopped near Sommacampagna (VR) and thoroughly inspected by the traffic police with the aid of a veterinarian, on which animals were travelling in overcrowded conditions – at least one sheep died during the trip and one was suffering on the floor.

From the video created by the AA and AWF activists there were various sheep including this one in the photo, with a black snout inside the truck – experiencing severe breathing problems.
© Animals’ Angels / Animal Welfare Foundation

In another very severe case 169 animals were found to be in excess of the capacity of the truck, 5 sheep were dying on the ground trampled on by other animals, there were a few broken troughs and others were inaccessible. The carrier in question furthermore had prior infringements of the animal welfare legislation, nevertheless the intervening authorities did not act.

Our requests to the Ministry of Health and the European Commission

A few days before, by request of Essere Animali, a ministerial note by the Ministry of Health was issued, precisely in order to increase controls and to indicate to the appropriate authorities the priorities to be verified. While the note has been effective in ensuring more controls than in 2022 (at the time no police force went out to inspect arrivals from Eastern Europe), all this however is part of a lacking legislative framework at a European level, which does not truly guarantee the welfare of the animals during transport, and which is still blatantly violated by the operators.

In fact, a few days ago the European Commission proposed a revision of the legislation, but this proposal is still largely inadequate. Europe and member states can and must do more for the over 40 million animals, not only lambs, that are transported for long distances within the EU and to third countries yearly.

Some of the new points introduced by the Commission will positively affect the animals transported live – as in the case of some unweaned animals like calves – however, long- distance transport will continue. Just as exports to other countries lacking an animal protection legislation will continue as well as very long trips by ship. Many other problems still remain unsolved, such as the problem of inadequate troughs, the fact that the animals that are injured during the trip cannot be helped and fines which are still disharmonious and rarely given as well as controls too few and ineffective.

For this reason, it is necessary to continue to apply pressure until the positive proposals made by the Commission remain and others are introduced and reinforced, in line with the views of the EFSA.

Sign to stop suffering during animal transport

52.373 already signed the petition. Let's get to 80.000!

Required field!
At least %s characters!
No more than %s characters!
Insert a valid datetime!
Insert a valid phone number!
Insert a valid ZIP code!
Insert a valid taxcode!
Insert a valid VAT number!
Accept the privacy policy to continue!
An error occurred! Check the fields.
Use a valid nickname!
Not valid password!
• at least one special character (-_@#$%)
• at least a number
• at least an uppercase character
• at least a lowercase character
• at least 6 characters long
• not more than 20 characters long
The verification password doesn't match the password you have chosen!
Not valid!
Not valid!
Ok!
Check the email!
The user is not been activated. Click the confirmation link in the email we sent you!
Mmmm.. are you sure about that?
You already signed up the newsletter
An error occurred!
read the petition

Dear Commissioners,

Every year millions of farmed animals are transported alive by road, sea, rail, and air within the European Union (EU) Member States (MS) and to extra-EU countries for breeding, fattening and slaughter purposes. The protection of animals during transport and related operations is disciplined by Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 (hereafter named Regulation 1/2005).

In the last decades, however, a vast body of scientific literature, official reports by the European Commission and investigations from civil society organisations have extensively shown that Regulation 1/2005 is not only being poorly enforced by MS, but it fails to adequately protect animals since it is based on outdated scientific knowledge.

In the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission has set the goal “to revise the animal welfare legislation, including on animal transport and the slaughter of animals, to align it with the latest scientific evidence, broaden its scope, make it easier to enforce and ultimately ensure a higher level of animal welfare”.

The revision of Regulation 1/2005 represents a unique opportunity for the European Commission and the EU co-legislators to strengthen and improve the protection of animals during transport, along with effectively addressing the most urgent welfare issues to spare animals any avoidable suffering.

In light of these considerations, I/we call for a revision of Regulation 1/2005 that must include:

  • A ban on the transport of live farmed animals to extra-EU countries
  • A ban on long-distance transport of live animals within the EU and a limit on maximum journey times of 8 hours for adult bovines, ovines and swine, and 4 hours for poultry and rabbits
  • A ban on the transport of unweaned and pregnant animals (for whom 40% or more of the expected gestation period has already passed)
  • The definition of species- and category-specific conditions to ensure fitness for transport, and to establish minimum and maximum external temperatures, space allowance parameters, and the provision of watering and feeding during the transport of live animals within the EU.
  • The reduction, refinement and replacement of the transport of live farmed animals by that of meat/carcasses and semen/embryos, as recommended by the FVE, OIE and EFSA.

We further ask for stricter enforcement of the Transport Regulation, alongside a higher number of official inspections and controls, and more severe sanctions in case of verified infringements.

My/our requests join those of tens of thousands of European citizens that have recently participated in the public consultation on the revision of EU animal welfare legislation and have unanimously expressed the urgency to adopt improved and stringent dispositions to enhance and advance the protection of animals during transport and related operations.

Grazie, la tua firma è importante

C'è un'altra persona lì vicino a te?

Fai firmare anche lei!
Grazie!
Con te siamo a
52.373 firme
Vuoi fare di più? Condividi la petizione per aiutarci a raggiungere 80000 firme

Salta questo step

Make a donation to help animals in need

Per:

If you have problems with this form or want to contact directly our donor care write to us.

Required field!
At least %s characters!
No more than %s characters!
Insert a valid datetime!
Insert a valid phone number!
Insert a valid ZIP code!
Insert a valid taxcode!
Insert a valid VAT number!
Accept the privacy policy to continue!
An error occurred! Check the fields.
Use a valid nickname!
Not valid password!
• at least one special character (-_@#$%)
• at least a number
• at least an uppercase character
• at least a lowercase character
• at least 6 characters long
• not more than 20 characters long
The verification password doesn't match the password you have chosen!
Not valid!
Not valid!
Ok!
Check the email!
The user is not been activated. Click the confirmation link in the email we sent you!
Mmmm.. are you sure about that?
You already signed up the newsletter
An error occurred!