“Horrifying” Investigation Shows the Dark Side of Dairy Farms

FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, has condoned the “horrifying” footage highlighting the mistreatment of Irish bull calves which aired yesterday evening across Ireland. 


LONDON, July 11 - Last night's RTÉ investigation showed and exposed potential animal welfare issues at local Irish trading markets, as well highlighting possible breaches of European Union law and regulations around the transport of live animals, especially on loading density and crowding, excessive journey times and unweaned calves being separated from their mothers for long periods. 

Andreas Manz, FOUR PAWS EU Farm Animal Policy Coordinator, said:

“What we have seen from the undercover filming is frankly horrifying. Ireland exports tens of thousands of dairy bull calves every single year so this is potentially very troubling, action needs to be taken with a full and independent report into the documentary's findings. This cannot be swept under the carpet. 

“The investigation tracks an export journey which lasted 61 hours, for the transport of the live animals this is unacceptable and dangerous. The longer a transport lasts, the more likely it is that animal welfare will be compromised.  

“The animals transported here are unweaned animals that are dependent on their mother. These animals should not be considered fit for transport. They are susceptible to diseases as their immune system is not yet built up. Also, unweaned animals do not have body reserves and are dependent on liquid feed, that cannot be provided during transport. Numerous animals die during and after such transport.” 

Every year, more than one billion poultry and 37 million live cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses are transported across borders within the EU and to third countries. The animals suffer greatly during the journeys that often last weeks and many endure dehydration, hunger, fear and stress.  

“The UK exports thousands of animals across the globe each year.  

In the achingly cramped and scorching conditions of transportation trucks, these innocent animals endure long and draining hours of torture, with no escape, shade or access to water.   

These sentient, intelligent and complex animals are left to slowly, agonisingly suffer before they arrive at their final destination to be brutally slaughtered.   

The Government promised Brexit would be an opportunity to improve standards of welfare and the keeping and transportation of these animals above and beyond the limitations of EU agreements.   

Years on, however, the suffering continues.  

The Kept Animals Bill was introduced in 2021, promising to deliver these improvements, with a ban on the exportation of live animals.  

Yet, with no delivery of the Bill on the cards, and nearly two years since there has been any political advancements, the suffering continues.  

This is a senseless and needless form of cruelty, which goes against every facet of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill. Let’s stop the hypocrisy, let’s #StopTheTrucks, once and for all.”  

Simon Pope, Campaigns Lead at FOUR PAWS UK

Charlie McConalogue, the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said:

 “I strongly condemn the shocking practices we saw on #RTÉInvestigates tonight.  They were certainly not reflective of the care that Irish farmers provide for their animals.

 A Department of Agriculture Investigation has already commenced and will be vigorously pursued.” 

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