Every year, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses are transported vast distances, within Europe and internationally as part of the live farm animal trade. Animals travelling internationally, for example, from the EU to the Middle East or North Africa (large numbers of cattle make this journey each year), endure extensive journey times, often lasting upwards of ten days. Their transport involves not only a strenuous road trip, but it is followed by an exhausting ship journey as well. Large numbers of animals die on sea transport such as this, due to the stress of overcrowding, collapse and subsequent crushing, exhaustion, poor ventilation, starvation and dehydration.
Presently, within the European Union, animals may be transported live from one end of the EU to the other with ‘adequate’ rest periods. Every year millions of animals are traded and transported, primarily by road, between Member States in the EU; in 2000, 3.5 million cattle were traded, as well as 12 million pigs and 4.1 million sheep and goats. The current EU Welfare of Animals during Transport Directive allows for a maximum of eight hours travelling before they must be rested, fed and watered. However, vehicles equipped with devices that allow for animals to eat and drink whilst being transported, as well as being equipped with ‘adequate’ ventilation systems and appropriate bedding may have their journey time increased to as long as 24 hours for pigs, or 29 hours for cattle (including an hour rest period). Currently, the drivers of the vehicles carrying live animals do not require any certificate to acknowledge any experience of animal welfare training. Much of the negligence which the animals suffer from originates from this lack of knowledge and understanding of the animals’ needs. This neglect could easily be avoided, however, when the welfare of the animals is considered in relation to the expense that would be involved in training individuals and purchasing better equipment, the animals lose out and monetary gain becomes of central importance.
Despite the presence of legislation, the animals’ requirements for feeding, drinking and rest are often ignored and the animals end up suffering from stress, exhaustion, starvation and dehydration; often resulting in fatalities. Moreover, the combination of neglect and the very conditions in which the animals are kept during travel, lead to immense fear and panic on the part of the animals, as well as numerous injuries as a result of the sheer lack of space.
You can help by not supporting this cruel and unnecessary trade and by adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet. If you must eat meat, lobby and show support for the replacement of the live animal trade by a carcass only trade and only buy free range or organic meats; animals farmed under organic livestock standards are kept in free range conditions and are fed a more natural diet, one which is free from routine or preventative medicines and other drug treatments.