Hungry and stressed – investigation into live exports out of Irish ports

EFI has observed hundreds of trucks at Rosslare port full of bawling calves, just like the trucks filmed on the Irish Ferries crossing on 19th April that showed trucks on an outside deck and, despite the noise from the wind and the ferry, the calves could be heard crying loudly, clearly distressed. Sometimes the noise at Rosslare is horrendous and you can hear the desperate cries right across the port.

The calves are crying because they are hungry, they are thirsty and they are tired and stressed. They have already been couped up in the trucks for several hours with barely room to lie down, they have already travelled for several hours to get to the port, they have already gone many hours with no feed. And this is before the 18 hour ferry crossing during which time they cannot be fed, because they are dependent on milk and need to be fed individually which cannot be done when you have 300 calves crammed in a truck.

The Irish authorities claim this is high welfare, the exporters claim they have the highest standards in Europe, the dairy farmers just want to get rid of their unwanted calves. There is something very wrong with a society that thinks starving vulnerable babies for over 24 hours whilst forcing them to endure the stresses and hardship of long distance transport is not only acceptable, but good welfare.

Nicola Glen from Eyes on Animals has been involved in several investigations and has stated that every export journey of unweaned Irish calves destined for the continent is unlawful. All those involved in the trade: Stena Line, Irish Ferries, the Irish Government, the official vets, the marts, and those exporting and importing these vulnerable young calves are complicit in inflicting immense suffering, as all parties know that these journeys involve the starving of 15 day old calves.

But that is not the end of it for these tiny animals, who for too long have been ghosts of a dairy industry that fails to take any responsibility for their welfare or indeed the mothers who gave birth to them. The calves are ripped from their mothers as soon as they are born, deprived of their mothers milk, transported to marts where they are pushed around, shouted at and then forced to endure journeys without adequate nourishment for days. EonA has witnessed calves being punched and kicked and dragged along the floor by their tails. They end up in veal farms, with no space to turn around, with no comfort, just hard floors and nothing for them to do, never to see the daylight until the day they are taken to the slaughterhouse. EonA has visited many veal farms where the calves are mentally broken, any life they had has been taken from them, for they have been treated as nothing more than a cheap commodity. It is time that this vile and cruel trade came to an end.

EFI has also observed hundreds of young bulls being loaded onto hideous, ancient livestock vessels bound for Turkey, Libya, Algeria and Jordan, journeys that last 10 – 16 days crossing choppy seas, just to face a brutal slaughter when they get there. It’s not just the sea journey that is a concern, where many animals become sick and injured with respiratory illness and leg injuries, but these countries have no animal welfare regulations in place, and investigations by NGOs have shown horrific slaughter practices that would not be acceptable in Ireland.

It was great that the Sunday Mirror gave this hideous industry a 2 page spread, the public need to be aware of what is going on in this supposedly animal loving nation. You can read the full story here:

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2 Responses

  1. Elizabeth

    Thank you- so heartbreaking about the live export trade – it’s just compounding the exasperation I feel about the animal welfare generally…

  2. Mark

    Your depiction of little calves cries heard across Rosslare port is heart wrenching. It is so sad.

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