37 Million live pigs goats, sheep and cattle as well as 1 billion live poultry get transported both within the EU and to other countries each year.
These journeys can last up to a few days and the animals suffer greatly as a result of it and some even die. They are often exhausted, injured and dehydrated and they can pick up diseases. The animals can be worn out form being kept in confined conditions and this leaves them susceptible to broken bones, when they are forced to stand all of this time. There may also be unweaned calves among them who may be unfed and unrested and kept in the overcrowded trucks with the other animals.
When the animals are taken outside of the EU, they have even longer journeys and they could face very poor treatment hen they arrive at their destination as well.
TSB/AWF and Eyes on Animals carried out an investigation over a five year period between 2010 and 2015 in order to find out what the situation was. They checked trucks at the Bulgarian border, which is often a way out of the EU for these trucks and found that 70% of them were in breach of EU transport regulations. They found animals without water parked in sunlight for five days, starving animals and sheep waiting for 5 days part of the way through their journey, standing on the dead carcasses of animals that had been trampled to death.
They also found animals shipped on old vessels which were not made for animal transport. They had no vet on board and so it was only once they arrived at their destination that it was discovered that animals were dead, injured and sick. On several occasions the investigators found animals in these conditions.
It has there been proposed that there be limitations on the transport of live animals and that only a four hour journey for poultry and an eight hour one for mammals should be observed with the rest being transported as meat, to prevent tis unnecessary suffering. You can take action to stop this long distant transport too.
In 2014 three EU governments; Netherlands, Denmark and Germany requested that the EU Animal Transport Regulation (2005/1) be revised. Sweden joined them in 015 and they all asked for journey times to be specified and transport quality to be improved as well as handlers and drivers being taught more about how to care for the animals. In order for other ministers to get involved you can send a letter to your local MP.
Retailers are often trying to improve and change the food chain and it is up to their customers to influence this change. By finding the retailers that are doing more to provide better animal welfare and buying orm them, then consumers can encourage other retailers to do the same thing.
Supporting companies that sell locally produced or national meat rather than that from abroad can be a way to show that you are supporting their actions. So by buyig meat form them, rather than form those that sell foreign meat, you can show your support and other retailers will notice if their sales go down as a result. You just have to check the label to see the country of origin in order to find out where you meat has come from and potentially how far it has travelled first. In the UK you will see the RSPCA Assured labelling on meat from animals with good welfare. In other countries there are different labels such as beter Leven in the Netherlands, Fur Mehr Tierschutz in Germany, Anbefalet af Dyrenes Beskyttelse in Denmark and Tierschutz-kontrolliert in Austria and Germany.
Since the campaigning started there are now six governments from the EU ; Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany, that have asked the EC to revise the European Transport Regulation. They want stricter rules with regards to animal transport including specific maximum journey times. In order to show their support 700,000 EU citizens have already signed the campaign and you can help by sending a letter to your local MP to try to get them to support the campaign and lobby the government.