A suggestion to limit the journey times of animals that are being brought to slaughter has been shot down by the European Commission.

Belgian MEP Pascal Arimont asked EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis what was the Commission’s view of an eight-hour limit for the journeys of animals transported for the purpose of being slaughtered in the EU.

The Commissioner said the enforcement of EU legislation on animal transport is primarily a responsibility of the Member States.

He said Member States undertake checks in accordance with EU regulations on the protection of animals during transport, and submit annual reports to the Commission.

Furthermore, he said information on controls is provided by Member States and the information currently available for the last 24 months does not show a high level of non-compliances in relation to journey times as set by the legislation.

Commissioner Andriukaitis said the Commission is not planning to amend the regulations.

He said the Commission is focusing its efforts on the development of guides to good practices and improved cooperation amongst Member States so as to achieve greater harmonisation of the implementation of existing rules.

The Commission considers that there is no scientific justification for limiting the transport of animals for slaughter to, for example, eight hours.

“There is no guarantee that limiting journey times would improve animal welfare, as the transport of animals under poor conditions is damaging to animal welfare regardless of journey times,” he said.

Current rules for transporting animals

Farmers transporting their own animals in their own vehicle up to a maximum distance of 65km are also excluded from the main provisions of the EU Regulations. However, they must observe General Conditions for the transport of animals.

Farmers transporting animals on journeys over 65km on a regular basis may have to apply to the Department of Agriculture for an authorisation.

However, in relation to training these farmers will be deemed to have the necessary competence based on agricultural training undertaken in Ireland, the approval process for herd numbers and the availability of a booklet on standards for animal transport.

Commercial transporters transporting animals on journeys up to a maximum distance of 65km are not required to be authorised or to undergo training. However, they are required to carry documentation in their vehicle stating:

  • the origin and ownership of the animals
  • the place of departure
  • the date and time of departure
  • the intended place of destination and the expected duration of the journey.

Vehicles used for the transport of animals on long journeys must be inspected and approved by the Department of Agriculture and Food.

For more information on the rules surrounding the transport of live animals click here