EFI director Caroline Rowley was invited to speak as an expert witness at the ANIT committee meeting on long distance transport on Wednesday 17th March 2021.
The purpose of the committee of inquiry is to test the fitness for purpose of the Regulation, look into enforcement and where the gaps are, both in terms of responsibility and enforcement and also where changes and improvements need to be made. The inquiry will be carried out over a 12 month period and there have been numerous meetings so far.
All speakers were given seven minutes to speak. Ms Rowley started by explaining how Regulation 1/2005 must be adhered to by all parties including exporters, transporters and competent authorities even when it is inconvenient to do so and all parties have a responsibility to ensure that good health and welfare is maintained right up until final destination.
Ireland is at a disadvantage geographically but that is no excuse for breaching the Regulation and compromising welfare. Ms Rowley explained how calves are having to endure long journeys with no feed for up to 30 hours, how this negatively impacts their health and welfare and how it is in direct breach of Regulation 1/2005.
Ms Rowley went on to describe how good health and welfare cannot be guaranteed during sea transport, how the vessels are unsuitable and how the certification process of the vessels is not being conducted in line with the Regulation. Rough treatment of cattle has also been observed at the docks.
Ms Rowley addressed some claims made by speakers at previous meetings. Firstly, a prominent calf exporter stated that a slow release feed has been developed that keeps the calves full for 17 hours. Enquiries were made about this and such a feed does not exist. Anyhow, it is still a Regulation breach. Secondly, a representative from DAFM has used a study from Wageningen University in the Netherlands to justify leaving the calves without feed as the study showed Irish calves on Dutch farms needed 30% less antibiotics than calves from other countries. The study was carried out between 2013 – 2015 before the dairy calf boom. It was on antibiotic usage not mortality. The study states that there is a seasonal effect – calves born in spring need less antibiotics born later in the year. The majority of calves in Ireland are born in spring. It is disingenuous to use this study to justify breaching Regulations around the feeding requirements of unweaned calves.
The meeting can be viewed here: