Cows in live animal transport

After King’s Speech: UK Will Ban Live Animal Exports

FOUR PAWS expects signal for animal welfare revision in next year’s EU elections


London/Vienna, 10 November 2023 – After years of campaigning from many animal welfare organisations, the announcement of a ban on live exports is a significant moment in the history of the animal welfare movement in the United Kingdom.

The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill will prevent the horrendous shipments of calves and other farmed animals for days or even weeks on unsuitable transport vessels that have seen dreadful accidents in the past with thousands of animals dying.

Journeys of unweaned calves from the UK to Spain for fattening were found to last on average 60 hours and often even longer. During this time the animals suffer from injury, stress and exhaustion. Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS fortifies its efforts to advocate in next year’s EU elections, where a revision of the Animal Welfare legislation is more than overdue.

“The last years have seen too many fatal accidents with farmed animals being transported alive with countless of documented infringements against existing legislation that just are not prosecuted. The suffering the animals have to endure is unimaginable. From excessive temperatures in the cargo, nonexistent veterinary care and a constant shortage of water and feed.” 

Corinna Reinisch, Programme Lead Farm Animal Welfare at FOUR PAWS

Reinisch continued: “Therefore, this milestone announcement in the UK shines a light on the upcoming proposals for transport the European Commission has announced for December this year. Eventually the EU Parliament and the Council of the EU have to take those proposals, which raise the significance of live animal transport, forward in the upcoming EU elections in 2024. This strong signal shall be the door opener for an urgently needed improvement for billions of farmed animals that are transported outside the EU and to third countries every year. FOUR PAWS keeps advocating for animal welfare worldwide.”


Live animal transport causes immense animal suffering, which has been documented by animal welfare organisations and journalists for decades. In 2020, the European Commission decided, as part of the Green Deal, to revise the current animal welfare legislation, including the EU Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport. A draft is to be presented in December this year. 

EU is the world’s biggest live animal exporter 

In 2019, a total of over 220 billion bovines, pigs, poultry, and ovines were exported from the EU to non-EU countries. This year alone there have been several fatal accidents with animals being transported. After a three-month ordeal through the Mediterranean Sea around 1,600 young bulls had been emergency killed in Spain after the transport ship Elbeik was not allowed to enter the Middle East due to feared bluetongue cases among the bulls on board. Almost 900 young bulls from the transport vessel Karim Allah experienced the same fate some weeks earlier and only recently 14 sheep died after the Phoenix III was being stuck off the Italian coast due to bad weather conditions.  

Pigs in live animal transport

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Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

PR International Officer

+43 (0) 664 504 38 97

VIER PFOTEN International 
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1150 Vienna, Austria

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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.

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