Read our response to DEFRA's consultation on the transport of animals
1. We applaud the choice of subjects under consideration and look forward to clearer definitions of the implementation and policing of the controls being mooted. The proposals must be couched in terms that allow easy modifications to increase the rigour applied to a traffic that must be curtailed (e.g. by transport on the hook rather than on the hoof) and receive no favours by way of subsidies.
2. We emphasise the following issues for particular attention:
i. The word animal must be interpreted to include all species (farmed mammals, birds and fish; pets and exotics etc.) that are likely to be transported in the course of trade or pleasure by land, sea or air. Adaptations will be required to accommodate the needs and size of the livestock and of the numbers carried in one lot. Consignments comprehending more than one species need special consideration. Traceability must be ensured at every stage, interruption and resumption of a journey, and the competence of accompanying custodians must be defined to ensure that they can cope with the animals’ welfare during the journey and with any misadventures in transit.
ii. While accommodation must be made for the individual susceptibilities of various species (e.g. to motion sickness), we see considerations such as “stricter controls on horse transport” as undermining the constituent aim for all animals regardless of their financial worth: they are all living and sentient beings and DEFRA must ensure that a barren cow going abroad or within the UK for slaughter receives the same care as a thoroughbred racehorse, or when, regrettably, it too is destined for the butcher.
iii. Except for small consignments of animals (the number to be determined) each vehicle should carry accompanying personnel trained, licensed and regulated for driving the transporter and its cargo and for the handling and care of the livestock. This competence should include familiarity with the controls and facilities of the vehicle, vessel or aircraft and at markets and collection centres and ability to remain in contact during the whole journey with Help-Line veterinary services and – being in possession of a valid slaughterer’s licence – competent in any necessary rescue or humane killing of fallen stock. The responsibilities may require relief staff with similar competence, and emergency equipment must be provided for multiple contingencies.
iv. Transport should entail as few loading and unloading interruptions in the transfer, and marketing and feeding and watering breaks must count in the duration of the whole journey. Resumptions must be disallowed. The assigned recipient of the stock must be bound beforehand to take care of the animals, within or outside the EU, in conditions required within the EU. Animals must be transported, loaded and unloaded in comfortable (recumbent and standing) pens with provision of straw or other suitable floor covering, and with access to water and feed.
v. Vehicles (and trailers), ships and aircraft must be inspected and registered for the purposes intended. Much engineering research has gone into the design of road vehicles for ventilation, air conditioning, temperature and illumination control, and suspension. Monitors and CCTV displays in the driver’s cab and availability of suitable adjustments must be ensured on all journeys. Lifts should be provided for loading and unloading the pens. Ramps should not be used. Particular attention must be paid to stacking and stocking of modules for live poultry and – even more specially – for spent (end-of-lay) hens.
Dr. Alan Long
Hon. Research Adviser