Improve or end sealed 'box type' live export trucks

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Improve or end sealed 'box type' live export trucks

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In the EU, live exports are still taking place every day moving live farm animals from country to country for fattening and slaughter.  These animals can be transported up to 18 hours + a lot longer (pigs = 24 hrs) to their final destination.  Not all live farm animals being transported by road currently across the EU go in ‘conventional’ livestock trailers which importantly have exterior air vents fitted to each tier, providing air to the animals and making it easier for the drivers/relevant authorities to undertake inspections/obtain access to the animals for any welfare problems (accessing via the sides and back of the trucks). A combination of the trailer type and some signage on these ‘conventional open slated’ trucks lets other motorists/relevant authorities know that live animals are being transported.  More and more we are seeing trailers that are completely sealed carrying live animals in ‘box’ type trailers as shown in these photographs (taken in 2012/13 at UK Ramsgate and Dover Harbours) which have no external signage or easy access points to sick or injured animals.  

Would you believe these trucks pictured here have several hundred sheep/calves in its trailer giving most outside observers the conception that anything other than live animals are being carried within it?

What is the problem with these sealed ‘box type’ live export trucks?

  1. Professional livestock drivers and welfare-inspectors with experience in the field both know that proper access to animals during transportation is one of the most important requirements for ensuring the welfare of the animals be maintained throughout the journey. 

In reality, all sorts of things can go wrong with livestock trailers during a journey:

  • air-conditioning/automatic ventilation system can break down;
  • animals can fall ill/become injured;
  • pregnant animals can give birth prematurely;
  • the automatic water system may break down/become filthy; during long journeys manual watering is necessary as individual animals cannot consume an adequate volume of water via the automatic trough,
  • some cannot even get to the water and animals need to be fed;
  • animals can fight on board and when blood is drawn the aggressiveness can escalate enormously;
  • on occasion animals need to be separated from others or humanely killed depending on the problem. 

 All of these real-life scenarios happen and reactions should be compliant with, or even beyond EU Reg 1/2005 which defines the welfare standards for animals during transport. Drivers/authorities must be able to easily inspect and access the animals. If the drivers or the relevant authorities cannot inspect the animals easily due to the construction of the ‘box’ type trailers, then how is animal welfare to this EU regulation guaranteed if there is a problem?  

Sadly in 2013 alone we know that some animals being transported in this ‘sealed box trailer’ fashion have endured hours of suffering or died because no-one had the ability to inspect or access them whilst on the road.

 2.         Should any one of these sealed ‘box’ type trailers ever be involved in a road accident anywhere within the EU;    there is currently very little possibility that (national) emergency / rescue services personnel would even know that live animals are being transported within the trailer.  From observations in the UK, clear and visible marking declaring ‘live animals carried’ on all parts of the box trailer does not exist.  Without this information that live animals are being transported, emergency rescue crews could assume that other ‘goods’ are being carried, which could result in the situation where animals may be left within the enclosed trailer should it become involved in an accident.  This has been verified by Mr. Van Goethem at the EU Commission. In addition, as the trailers are sealed and only use  electrical power for (internal) animal ventilation; should this be cut off as the result of any accident, many animals being carried may be suffocated and die as a result.  Time is of the essence here – emergency services, wherever they are located in the EU, need to be visually informed that live animals are being carried within the trailer, even though this may not be seen from the exterior.

The body shops currently manufacturing the trailers are focusing too much on engineering and state-of-the-art design, rather than on the animals, EU Regulation 1/2005 and real-life scenarios in the field. By receiving approval from the government authorities, these body shops are unfortunately being encouraged to continue with these designs.

A big error has been made, and we insist that they correct the error before more of these trailers go on the road. Without access to animals and without the ability for drivers and ministry officials to thoroughly inspect them whilst in transport, one is in clear violation of the EU legislation and is risking the welfare of animals in all cases of emergencies, big and small.

Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005

The European legislation protecting animals during transport, Council Regulation EC 1/2005, states very clearly in ANNEX 1, Chapters I and II, that there must be access to animals during transport in order to inspect and care for them, and that animals that fall unfit be separated or given first-aid.

 Chapter II Para 2.1 of the regulation simply declares that: “vehicles in which animals are transported shall be clearly and visibly marked indicating the presence of live animals”.

What do we want?:

We call on the EU Director General of Health and Consumers (SANCO); who is responsible for ensuring good animal welfare, along with all EU national animal welfare government ministers, to undertake the necessary legislation changes to Regulation 1/2005 to:

 1.         Set out clear instructions for what designs are acceptable or not to manufacturers. The design of the trailers   destined to transport animals has to put priority on the requirements to inspect and access animals during their transport, not on engineering.

  • The containers used to transport animals must be designed with adequately sized and plentiful side-access doors so that injured/ sick animals can be treated, separated or humanely killed, as the EC 1/2005 legislation calls for.

Trailer manufacturers say they will make what the industry wants, but the industry will only change their demands when the EU member state authorities enforce the requirements of the EC 1/2005 and make adequately sized access doors plentiful and mandatory. We insist that all Member State authorities responsible for approving means of transport put this criteria into their plan-of-action so that the current containers can be phased out by the new ones as and when their operating licences come up for renewal.

 2.         Ensure that in future, all EU trailer manufacturers construct trailers which have adequately sized access doors which allow the driver to inspect and gain access to all animals carried, as defined in procedures detailed in Annex 1 of Regulation 1/2005.

 3.         Ensure that as stated by Mr. Bernard Van Goethem of the EU Commission, emergency services personnel from any EU member state are able to visually identify that the trailer concerned IS carrying live animals by ensuring that all sealed ‘box’ type trailers carrying live animals are identified as ‘carrying live animals’ by way of:

  • Large, WARNING SIGNS clearly showing that live animals are being transported within the trailer(s) in question, and that these warning signs are fitted on:

          The sides of the trailer – in at least 3 positions

          The front and rear of the trailer – in at least 2 positions

          The roof of the trailer – in at least 3 positions

          The underside of the trailer – in at least 2 positions

  •  In addition, a warning sign fitted on both the sides and rear of the trailer must identify to emergency rescue personnel in several EU languages that:

 ‘In the event of an accident, the air ventilation power system to the sealed trailer may be disrupted; and that animals contained within the trailer should be provided with fresh, externally sourced air as soon as possible to avoid their suffocation’.  Basically; the trailer doors must be opened.

  • All signage should be in several (at least two, ideally more) main European languages – English and French and / or German for example.

We immediately call on the Director General of Health and Consumers (SANCO) to ensure that this becomes urgent legislation to ensure that live animals are given better protection during transport than currently detailed by Regulation 1/2005 by the use of large, clear and easily identifiable internationally written signage applied to all sealed ‘box’ trailers.  This update must be applied at the earliest convenience to Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations which is applicable throughout the EU.

 Austria and Italy do not accept these types of ‘no access box type’ trailers in their countries, so why do other EU nations? – where is the EU wide compliance with Regulation 1/2005 here when we have double standards ?

 It is important to remember that animals are living beings, where things can happen to them during transport. Without access to them, they are completely helpless during times of trouble in these types of trailers.

 These pictures were taken in 2012 and 2013 at both Ramsgate and Dover Harbours (UK) – where is the exterior signage defined by Reguation 1/2005 Annex 1 Chapter 2 clearly showing that live animals are being transported? 

 This current scenario is completely unsatisfactory but is currently operated throughout almost all EU member states at present – it is time for change, and to put animal welfare first.

 (any queries please contact me)


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