Vienna, 11 July 2023 – FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, has condemned the “horrifying” footage highlighting the mistreatment of Irish bull calves which aired yesterday evening across Ireland.
The RTÉ investigation showed and exposed potential animal welfare issues at local Irish trading markets, as well highlighting possible breaches of European Union law and regulations around the transport of live animals, especially on loading density and crowding, excessive journey times and unweaned calves being separated from their mothers for long periods.
Andreas Manz, FOUR PAWS EU Farm Animal Policy Coordinator, said, “From what we have seen from the undercover filming is frankly horrifying. Ireland exports tens of thousands of dairy bull calves every single year so this is potentially very troubling, action needs to be taken with a full and independent report into the documentary's findings. This cannot be swept under the carpet.
“The investigation tracks an export journey which lasted 61 hours, for the transport of the live animals this is unacceptable and dangerous. The longer a transport lasts, the more likely it is that animal welfare will be compromised. Animal Welfare cannot be ensured on transport that is longer than 8 hours and even less, about 4 hours for poultry, rabbits and animals at the end of their production cycle. The animals are in a stressful situation, in cramped conditions inside a transport vehicle."
“The animals transported here are unweaned animals that are dependent on their mother. These animals should not be considered fit for transport. They are susceptible to diseases as their immune system is not yet built up. Also, unweaned animals do not have body reserves and are dependent on liquid feed, that cannot be provided during transport. Numerous animals die during and after such transport.”
Andreas Manz, FOUR PAWS EU Farm Animal Policy Coordinator
Every year more than one billion poultry and 37 million live cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses are transported across borders within the EU and to third countries. The animals suffer greatly during the journeys that often last weeks and many endure dehydration, hunger, fear and stress.
Manz concluded, “EU regulations and standards are there to protect and enforce safety for animals, we cannot see EU regulations so easily flouted. But not only must there be tighter enforcement mechanisms there must now clearly be a strengthening of them later in the year in the upcoming animal welfare revision done by the European Commission. This investigation intensifies and highlights the absolute need for furthering of animal welfare legislation across the board.”
Charlie McConalogue, the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said, “I strongly condemn the shocking practices we saw on #RTÉInvestigates tonight. They were certainly not reflective of the care that Irish farmers provide for their animals. A Department of Agriculture Investigation has already commenced and will be vigorously pursued.”
RTE footage/clips: https://twitter.com/RTE_PrimeTime/status/1678043001241718787?s=20
FOUR PAWS Live Animal Transport information: https://www.four-paws.org/campaigns-topics/topics/farm-animals/live-animal-transport
Animal welfare – revision of EU legislation: In the upcoming year, the European Commission is putting most of the laws and regulations concerning animal welfare through a thorough fitness check. They will evaluate whether the legal framework is still adequately protecting the animals in the European Union. As part of this longer process, the European Commission has launched a Public Consultation to give all European residents the chance to share their opinions and priorities.
FOUR PAWS on Social Media
Stay up to date on this topic and on all FOUR PAWS activities on our social media channels:
or subscribe to FOUR PAWS International newsletter.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org