WAV Comment – Around August 2010 I was very involved with investigations undertaken on the very same issue which is detailed in Caroline’s article below – the export of young Irish calves to mainland EU via Cherbourg port which is in France.
Here is a link to our other site – ‘Serbian Animals Voice’, which provides an example of the overall issue and a specific investigation report relating to the work. If you just wish to read the report, then here is a direct link:
Microsoft Word – JH.04.03.2010_REPORT on NON-COMPLIANCE with RESTING TIMES in relation to CONTROL POST at F-HEAUVILLE.doc (wordpress.com)
Main link with pictures to this: About Us. | Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)
Working with other EU animal welfare organisations involved in these 5 investigations, I wrote a 125 (A4) page report which detailed all the work and its findings. This was presented (as an overall one off report) to the EU, British MP’s and MEP’s (at that time the UK was still an EU member state). As Caroline details, the ferry crossing from Ireland to Cherbourg can be long – much too long for baby calves who should be given milk from their mothers on a very regular basis.
Our work found that one targeted crossing of calves on the ferry ‘Diplomat’ lasted 23 hours.
This vessel sailed from Rosslare on 28th November 2009 at 1600hrs
The other carrier ferry which was selected to be investigated, was the ‘Celtic Link’, which sailed from Rosslare on 28th November 2009 at 1815hrs, and the actual sailing time was 17.75 hours.
Important – only the sailing times for the ferry crossings (Rosslare-Cherbourg) are given above. These times are without the additional hours taken for transporters to journey from the original point of animal loading to Rosslare harbour, and once the ferry crossing has been made, the additional hours taken for transporters to journey to approved Control Posts in France once they had alighted the ferry at Cherbourg. So in reality; the times the calves were on truck was longer than that given above.
Once the calves finally arrived at their control post (feeding destination), they were supposed to be unloaded and rested up for many hours in accordance with EU Regulations. THIS DID NOT HAPPEN; and as you can read in the report link given above, exact arrival and leave times were recorded for several transporters carrying the calves.
Despite all this work and the long process of putting an overall report together, our evidence was simply dismissed by the EU; the trade in calves continued, as it does now, eleven years later, and I think I can safely say that all the rules are still being flouted.
This, and for many other export ‘things’ I have been involved with, is the simple reason why I have NO FAITH in anything that the EU preaches when it comes to legislation and the supposed welfare of animals. Animal welfare and the EU do not fit in the same box; we have proven it and all our evidence simply dismissed.
Does it anger me ? – yes, greatly; but it gives me even more impetus to research, investigate, and report on the issue of live animal exports. I think all the recent issues we have seen in Europe and the Suez Canal go to show what a sick and perverted bunch the politicians are who rubber stamp this mass animal abuse to happen. I promise that I will do everything in my power to expose the abuses !
Opinion: Vulnerable unweaned calves need protection in our export trade
Animal welfare campaigner Caroline Rowley outlines why she is challenging the State’s enforcement of EU law to protect farm animals exported abroad.
WE ARE CONSISTENTLY told by the State that the live export of farm animals is a highly regulated industry, with high welfare standards and care for the animals.
Yet investigations by animal welfare groups in Irish and other European countries have pointed to breaches of EU animal welfare stan
dards, as well as evidence of sickness, injury and death among cattle and calves exported to Europe and further afield.
One area of particular concern is the export of unweaned calves, thousands of which, at just 15 to 21 days, are sent on long journeys to veal farms in Europe where they are slaughtered at a few months old.
Exports have grown in recent years; largely as a result of the uncontrolled expansion of the dairy industry that is producing an increasing number of male calves that the sector has no outlet for.
- Noteworthy wants to examine if we are turning a blind eye to animal welfare concerns in the live export trade. Support this project here.
A long and difficult journey
European regulations state that animals should not be transported for more than eight hours; however, there are derogations for longer journey times so long as certain conditions are met around rest and feeding times.
In this case, unweaned calves can be transported for nine hours, after which they must be allowed to rest for one hour and be given water and feed as required. The calves can then be transported for another nine hours after which they must be unloaded and fed.
A good practices guide published by the European Commission, for example, states “young calves have to be provided with feed/water after as little as 8-9 hours”.
In reality, however, welfare groups have documented cases where calves are in a truck at ports after nine hours and are still on the ferry after 19 hours.
The ferry journey alone is 18 hours and often trucks transporting the calves are at the port for four or five hours before departure time.
Journey logs released under FOI, for example, show the calves have been put in the trucks for around 30 hours before being unloaded and fed at the resting point in Cherbourg.
Negative impacts of the journey
There are also serious concerns about feeding of the calves. At 15 days old, calves are dependent on a liquid diet and need milk or milk replacer at least twice a day.
As there are around 300 in each truck over three levels, it is not possible to access all calves to dispense the milk. In essence, many weeks-old calves are going 24-30 hours with no feed.
Leaving unweaned calves for long periods with no feed can cause all kinds of health and welfare problems. They have little body fat in reserve and the stress of transport means they burn energy at a faster rate than they would on the farm.
They cannot regulate their body temperature effectively and calves that receive no feed during a long journey will be more susceptible to cold and heat stress.
Young, vulnerable calves do not have a fully developed immune system and the lack of feed has an adverse impact further compromising immunity.
Transport is inherently stressful and it is essential that the calves be supported during the journey by receiving adequate nutrition.
To leave them without feed for up to 30 hours will compound the stress of the journey and further compromise their immune system.
Time for Europe to take action
All transporters, including ferry companies, have been authorised to transport livestock by the Department of Agriculture with certain obligations to ensure that the transport of animals is conducted in line with the requirements under EU regulations.
Based on the evidence that we have collected, together with other organisations, we have submitted a formal complaint to the EU Commission against the Department of Agriculture for what we see as failures to take appropriate action in relation to potential breaches by ferry companies whose authorisations we argue should be revoked.
There is currently a committee of inquiry underway in the European Parliament to examine long distance transport of animals, if the regulations are fit for purpose, and how well they are being enforced. The live export of unweaned Irish calves is something that we hope is high up on the agenda.
There is something inherently wrong with a system where calves are born just to be killed, and something wrong with a society that allows it to happen.
Caroline Rowley is the director of Ethical Farming Ireland that campaigns for improved conditions for farm animals, more sustainable and ethical farming methods, and opposes live exports.
You know; with all this kind of thing every day I have to chill out for a while; and music is (amongst other things) a saviour. Sometimes I need to share some music with you as I know you get affected by it all also – you have to get away sometimes, even if for half an hour or less; so enjoy !