What's the issue?
Any movement of livestock will have an impact on their health and welfare. The distances that livestock keepers move animals vary widely, from local area movements (for example to pastures, markets, and new premises) to regional, national, and international moves.
Legislation is in place to protect the health and welfare of livestock during transport:
- EC Regulation 1/2005
- Welfare of Animals (Transport) Orders for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The distances and conditions in which animals are transported causes much debate. There have been numerous calls on the UK governments to improve protections for animals during transport, or to ban the practice of live export altogether.
It's important to recognise that distance and journey length are not the only influencers on the health and welfare of animals during transport.
There are multiple factors at different stages of an animal’s journey that should be considered, including:
- transport time and distance from point of production
- transport design, condition, and stocking density
- driver skill, competence, and planning
- watering, feeding intervals, and rest periods
- monitoring of health and welfare
- end destination standards
- exporting for non-stun slaughter
What's our view?
Animals should be slaughtered as close as possible to where they are reared, and should not be exported to countries for non-stun slaughter.
We don’t support the call to ban live export as this focuses on journey times and distance, instead of the complex picture of animal welfare during transport as a whole.
Instead, we’re calling for the improved implementation of current legal requirements to protect animals during transport: EC Regulation 1/2005 and the UK Welfare of Animals (Transport) Orders and Regulations.
We'd welcome additional measures to protect the welfare of animals being transported. Any improvements should be evidence-based, informed by a welfare outcomes approach, and consider how proposals would work in all of the UK administrations. However, additional legal requirements are only beneficial if they are effectively enforced.
To build on existing legal requirements, we’re also calling for:
- certified training for farmers, drivers, and hauliers;
- improved veterinary supervision and access to veterinary care during journeys; and
- no animal to be exported to a destination with unknown welfare standards or exported to be raised in systems banned in the UK due to welfare considerations.