An eight-week consultation has been launched in the UK seeking views on ending the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening where the journeys begin or transit through either country.

The Welsh government has said that "live animals commonly have to endure excessively long journeys during exports, causing distress and injury".

According to the government, leaving the EU has enabled the UK government to "pursue these proposals which would prevent unnecessary suffering of animals during transport and see us become the first country in Europe to end this practice".

The government is also consulting on proposals to further improve animal welfare in transport such as:

  • Reduced maximum journey times;
  • Animals will be given more space and headroom during transport;
  • Stricter rules on transporting animals in extreme heat or cold;
  • Tighter rules for transporting live animals by sea.

The consultation follows an earlier call for evidence by the UK government and Devolved Administrations in April 2018, on controlling live exports for slaughter and improving animal welfare during transport.

'Improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life'

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

"We are committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life. Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter.

Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice. We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter.

Around 6,400 animals were transported from the UK directly to slaughter in continental Europe in 2018, based on internal figures.

Chris Sherwood, CEO for the RSPCA, said:

"We welcome plans to end live exports and look forward to seeing this happen as the RSPCA has campaigned on this issue for more than 50 years.

There is absolutely no reasonable justification to subject an animal to an unnecessarily stressful journey abroad simply for them to be fattened for slaughter.

"Ending live exports for slaughter and further fattening would be a landmark achievement for animal welfare."