Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / WeAnimals with Eyes On Animals
If you’ve been feeling the heat this week, imagine what it’s like for animals crammed into trucks for transportation – often for several days or weeks – without receiving water and veterinary care, and in temperatures largely exceeding 30 degrees.
Despite a warning from the EU Commission to EU Member States not to export animals during hot weather conditions, evidence collected by NGOs at the main EU exit points demonstrates that animals are systematically loaded into trucks and vessels regardless of weather forecast and EU requirements.
Transportation of live animals outside the EU has proven to be problematic from a welfare point of view even under normal circumstances. With the increase of temperature, the situation drastically worsens. As concluded by DG SANTE: “Due to the inability of the livestock vehicles ventilation system to lower the temperatures in the animal compartment below the external environmental temperature […] it is very difficult for transporters to ensure that animals inside the lorry are kept below 35°C when ambient temperatures are over 30°C”.
Some EU countries are starting to take action to ensure that animals don’t have to endure this hell during heatwaves such as this one. Hungary has recently made a ministerial decision to suspend the export of ruminants to Turkey in high temperatures. The suspension applies to all consignments of live animals without air conditioning, and means that if the temperature of the vehicle reaches a maximum of 30°C + 5°C, the vehicle will be directed to the nearest rest station. The Ministry of Agriculture decision also forbids trucks to continue on from the Hungarian resting places to Turkey if animal welfare conditions are not met. Some restrictions are also in place in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, where due to extreme temperatures from 3 days starting from today, the State Veterinary Administration announced that it will not dispatch consignments of farm animals from the Czech Republic for more than 600 km.
“We welcome the Hungarian ministerial decision and we urge other Member States to follow this example,” says Reineke Hameleers, director of Eurogroup for Animals. “We call on the Member States and the Commission to suspend the live export during summer, as compliance can’t be guaranteed. We need to avoid the immense suffering of the animals as witnessed over the past years at all costs.”
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) stresses that transportation of live animals should not be started if temperatures are expected to exceed 30 degrees during any stage of the journey.
Francesca Porta, Farm Animals Programme Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 740 08 28