Animal transports in Europe

Sunday August 8th, 2021

Over 200 million animals are transported alive on lorries throughout Europe every year - mostly these animals are on their way to the slaughterhouse. On this often hundreds of kilometres long journey into the unknown - pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats, sheep and horses are crammed into the smallest of spaces, often without sufficient access to drinking water or food - sometimes exposed to blistering heat or freezing cold for days on end.

The journey to the slaughterhouse is not the first transport for many animals. Some of them are transported several times in the course of their short lives. The reason for this is that agricultural animal husbandry is highly specialised and systematic. Many farms are only responsible for certain areas in breeding or fattening. In the course of its eight-month life, a pig is transported about three times between different farms, each of which specialises only in breeding, rearing or fattening: As a piglet, it is born in a breeding farm where sows are confined, which have only one purpose for the operators: to give birth to many offspring for fattening. At the age of three to four weeks, it is transported to a piglet rearing farm. After about six more weeks, transport to the fattening farm follows, before the animal has to experience its last journey to the slaughterhouse after about eight months. Often, the only time animals see daylight or smell fresh air is on these transports, as most of them spend their deprived lives exclusively in barren and faeces-soiled breeding and fattening factories.

In the European Union, the “Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations" applies for transporting animals and all member states must comply with it. The regulation constitutes, among other things, the duration and type of transport. For example, the maximum duration of a transport of equidae, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs is set to eight hours. Under certain conditions, long-distance transports are allowed to last longer than eight hours, for example for air transports and road transports, if the latter are in special trucks with better heat/cold insulation, feeding, watering and ventilation systems, partition walls and equipped with special navigation systems for official monitoring of the route.

In 2015, the European Court of Justice also ruled that the protection of animals does not end at the EU's external borders; the European Animal Transport Regulation also applies in third countries. [9] However, in many countries there are not enough supply points, so that the animals are not given the necessary rest periods and food intake on long journeys. The animals then suffer for days or weeks in heat, cold, hunger, thirst, confinement, stress and exhaustion in their own excrement. Although this illegal procedure has long been known to politicians, the companies involved and many veterinarians, the animal transports continue to roll almost unhindered.

Long-distance transports permitted under EU regulation according to animal species:

  • Young animals not yet weaned: nine hours journey, then one hour rest with drinking water, then nine hours transport
  • Pigs: 24 hours transport with permanent access to drinking water
  • Horses: 24 hours transport with watering every eight hours
  • Cattle, sheep and goats: 14 hours transport, then one hour rest with watering, then 14 hours transport.
  • If the animals are subsequently unloaded, fed and watered at an approved control point and have 24 hours of rest, the listed transport stages can be repeated as often as desired (Annex I, Chapter V, No. 1.5. EU Regulation), so that it is possible to transport animals across the world.

Special regulation: Transport by ship

Cattle and sheep in particular are transported across EU borders on ship journeys lasting days or weeks. Although these transports to countries where the animals are usually slaughtered in agony are hardly regulated, the time on the ships is not considered official transport time, like transports on trucks. The animals suffer immensely on the ferries, which are often amateurishly converted. They have hardly any space, the air conditions in the faeces-soiled bellies of the ships are usually extremely bad, and the animals are often inadequately supplied with food and water. Medical care is usually completely lacking, and dead animals are illegally disposed of overboard in the sea.

See detailed information: Tiertransporte – alle Informationen, Zahlen und Fakten –

Petition: Tiertransporte in Nicht-EU-Länder stoppen!

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Voluntarily created by GSPSA member Irakli Geleishvili
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