Live Transport

animals live ship container

Transportation of live animals is cruel

Article by Compassion in World Farming. Link below.

Worldwide, every year, millions of farm animals are forced to endure journeys of hundreds, or even thousands, of miles, only to be slaughtered on arrival or be fattened in often inhumane conditions.

Live animals, including calves, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and horses are routinely transported by road, rail, sea or air across continents. 

We are calling for the end of all long-distance live transport. Our mission is to:

  • End live exports from the UK.
  • End live exports from the EU to non-EU countries.
  • Ensure international legislation and guidelines on the welfare of animals in transport and slaughter are enforced.

We will do this by:

  • Securing a higher age limit at which animals can be transported over long distances.
  • Ensuring animals are fattened and slaughtered as close as possible to their place of birth.
  • Limiting the total journey time to 8 hours.
  • Ensuring the live transport of animals for slaughter is replaced by a trade in meat.


Animals are crammed into vehicles. Many are injured or trampled to death.

Exhaustion and dehydration

They can be in transit for days, suffering extremes of temperature and often without sufficient food, water or rest. Many die as a result.

Pain and stress

Animals are sentient beings and feel pain and stress just like we do.

Illness and disease

The spread of diseases across the globe – such as bluetongue virus, foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and swine fever – can be directly attributable to the live transportation of farm animals.

A lack of legal protection

When animals are exported from Europe to countries outside the EU they leave behind them all the legal protection they once received. This means they can face terrible abuse during transport and at the time of slaughter.

Unexpected issues

In addition to routine suffering, long-distance live transport can also result in fires, delays or sinking of livestock ships causing the suffering and death of large numbers of animals.



Nearly 3000 sheep die on a boat to the Middle East as shocking footage shows dead and decaying animals in disturbing scenes from inside a ship transporting thousands of sheep has shown lambs being tossed overboard and others decaying in their own feces. 

Evidence of horrific conditions on the ship carrying 63,000 sheep to the Middle East, during which 2400 were killed, has sparked an investigation from Federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud.

He described practices on-board the horror ship from Perth to Doha in August 2017 as 'total bullshit' and 'disgusting', and called for immediate action to be taken.

Mr Littleproud launched an investigation after being submitted a report from the shipping company last Thursday stating the large number of fatalities.

On Wednesday, he was sent the alarming footage from Animals Australia, prompting him to call for an urgent inquiry into the horrific treatment of exported sheep. 

'I saw footage provided to me by Animals Australia which is very disturbing. I am shocked and gutted. This is the livelihood of Australian farmers that are on that ship,' he said. 

I will not be afraid to call out and take strong action against those who have not fulfilled their responsibilities, whether they be the exporter, the regulator or staff on ships.' 

The footage was described as 'highly distressing' by The Australian Livestock Exporters' Council, reported. 

'These deaths and the conditions in which they occurred are plainly unacceptable,' chief executive Simon Westaway said.

A startling 12,377 sheep being exported were killed in transit last year alone.

Live export: animals at risk in giant global industry

More demand for meat sets nearly 2 billion farm animals on the move a year despite concerns about poor transport conditions and inhumane slaughter

by  and 

The global trade in live farm animals has more than quadrupled in size over the past 50 years, but patchy regulation means animals may be put at risk on some journeys, or exposed to cruelty when they reach their destination.

Every year nearly 2 billion farm animals are loaded on to trucks or ships and sent to new countries in journeys that can take days and sometimes weeks. Every day, at least 5 million animals are in transit.

As the trade has grown, profits have rocketed. In 1988, the global trade in all live animals was worth $716m (£548m); by 2017 that had risen to $21bn, according to Comtrade data. These figures do not take inflation into account, but the rise has massively outstripped inflation over that period.

Rising demand for meat in many parts of the world has been a boon for exporters who specialise in breeding or in animals that need to be fattened before slaughter. In the Middle East, in particular, animal imports have risen markedly: in 2016, Saudi Arabia alone imported nearly $1bn worth of live animals. Hong Kong’s reliance on importing animals from China has fuelled fears of greater dependence on the mainland.

In turn, other countries rely on selling their farm animals overseas. Romania, for example, exports more than 2 million sheep a year. Sudan’s trade with Saudi Arabia – where it sends several million sheep annually – is one of its most important sectors. Australia, Denmark and Spain also have thriving export industries.

But the steadily growing trade has led to concerns about the lack of oversight of animals in transit and when they reach their destination. Poor conditions during transportation and inhumane slaughter on arrival are two issues raised by animal charities that are calling for better regulation of the industry. There are also fears about the spread of disease.

Investigations by officials and campaigners have highlighted problems at ports and borders where animals are left in hot vehicles, before being loaded on ships where there may not always be access to a vet.

Abuse or bad animal practices, such as cutting the tendons in a cow’s legs in order to stop it moving before slaughter, or repeatedly stabbing into the side of the neck in order to kill, have been exposed in a number of slaughterhouses in Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. NGO Eyes on Animals now works in slaughterhouses in Turkey in order to improve conditions.

On top of this the Guardian has found that the ships licensed to carry animals are often old and dilapidated. In November a ship capsized just off the coast of Romania. More than 14,000 sheep drowned, although the crew were rescued.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is the agency responsible for setting standards on public and animal health, and has a role in creating rules for animal welfare. But it is not responsible for ensuring that these rules are adhered to or for punishing anyone who transgresses – that is still down to individual governments.

Dr Matthew Stone, a deputy director-general of the World Organisation for Animal Health, said the group worked with its members and partners to define international standards and strategies for animal welfare and develop the capacity of veterinary services to implement those standards. “Our members have not given us the mandate to enforce compliance with our international standards – that remains the sovereign responsibility of each member country,” he said.

“Our standards and strategies for animal welfare promote implementation of bilateral agreements for trade in live animals that address contingency arrangements during transport, such as mechanical failure or adverse weather events, and importantly in the context of international trade, contingencies for disease outbreaks or health events.

“In such circumstances, our standards describe the responsibility to care for the sick animals, and if unloading at the port of destination is in their best interests, to facilitate quarantine, investigation, and decisions on the fate of the consignment. Humane treatment of animals remains an important consideration throughout the entire journey.”

After a series of crises, the governments of New Zealand and Australia took action to restrict live exports from their countries and increase monitoring of animals in transit. But other countries apply different rules, and the oversight of the regulations that do exist is patchy.

Article by the Humane Society of the United States

Study Cattle/Cow transportation

An HSUS Report: The Welfare of Cows in the Dairy Industry

 Handling and Transport Rough handling is a major cause of stress, bruising, and injuries. Improving the training and attitude of handlers towards cattle would improve welfare and make future handling easier, as cattle remember and respond to bad experiences.

Sticks and electric prods should never be used to handle or move cattle.

Cattle may find transport to be threatening and unfamiliar, involving a series of stressful handling and confinement experiences.

The animals face stressors from noise, motion, and potentially extreme temperatures and humidity. Unless transport is cautiously planned and executed, it may cause injury and even death.

During transport, unfamiliar groups of animals may be mixed, which can increase the risk of fighting and threatening behaviors, cause stress, and lead to exhaustion.

Attempts should be made to keep familiar groups of cows together.

Food and water are typically withheld during transport, which can lead to weight loss and dehydration, compounded by stress-provoked defecation and urination on the trucks.

 Reviews of welfare during transport suggest that cattle may reach exhaustion after 15 hours and become significantly dehydrated after 24 hours.

Dairy cow mortality during transport has been associated with longer journeys and colder weather. In 2005, the 167 member countries of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) adopted animal transport standards, the first article of which reads: “The amount of time animals spend on a journey should be kept to the minimum.” This echoes the conclusions of the SCAHAW and the European Food Safety Authority that “journeys should be as short as possible.”

 Potentially even more important than reducing transport duration may be the road quality and driver’s skill. Drivers can have an enormous impact on the welfare of the animals being transported.

Cattle subjected to sudden braking and cornering cannot effectively brace themselves and may be thrown to the floor or into each other. Lower stocking densities are preferable, as high stocking densities have been associated with reduced welfare.

On overcrowded trucks, cows not only have an increased risk of falling, but may have more difficulty regaining a standing posture. Transport can also reduce welfare by affecting immune function and increasing the likelihood of disease.

By the end of their journey to slaughter, cattle may be weakened, hurt, or diseased. Animals who have become injured, sick, or nonambulatory during transport should be given prompt medical attention or be immediately and humanely euthanized.

Stunning and Slaughter Virtually all dairy cows are ultimately slaughtered for human consumption in the United States.

 Millions of dairy cows enter the food chain as ground beef every year, accounting for at least 17% of the ground beef produced in the United States.

Since the muscles of dairy cows have a lower fat content, they are commonly used in producing the more expensive “lean” hamburger. Grandin indicates that the five main causes of welfare problems during the time preceding slaughter are: poor condition of arriving animals, stressful handling methods, distractions that hinder movement, improperly trained employees, and poor maintenance of equipment.

Pre-Slaughter Handling Handling in the slaughter plant should be performed gently and carefully so that cows move as calmly as possible through holding pens, races, and into the kill box.

In audits of slaughter facilities, Grandin found An HSUS Report: The Welfare of Cows in the Dairy Industry that 98.2% of vocalizations were associated with four different adverse events: excessive electric prodding, slipping on the floor, too much pressure in restraining devices, and missed captive bolt stuns. Stress hormone levels can double or triple in cattle because of slipping on slick floors or being over-prodded.

Cattle also find yelling by workers to be stressful and aversive. Slaughter plant workers need to be properly trained in humane handling techniques. Since the attitude of workers can become negative, Grandin recommends lowering slaughter line speeds and rotating employees through different jobs every few hours to so they “maintain a humane attitude.” Management must also maintain a culture of accountability.

What are we doing about livestock transportation?

“The European Parliament calls on the Commission to develop a strategy to ensure a shift from live animal transport to a mainly meat-and-carcass and germinal products trade, given the environmental and animal welfare and health impacts of live animal transport; considers that any such strategy must address the economic factors that influence the decision to transport live animals; calls on the Commission to include transport to third countries in this strategy...” European Parliament, 2019.

Implementation Report on the transport of live animals both within and outside the European Union. “The Commission will foster a dialogue to explore possible tools for shifting towards trade in meat, when feasible, as well as the facilitation of trade in animal products” European Commission, 2019.

Follow-up to the European Parliament non-legislative resolution on the protection of animals during transport within and outside the EU. 


Bibliography 36-37 ANNEXES 38-58

How can I stop the suffering of animals in live transport? (Article by The National Humane Education Society)

How can I stop the suffering of animals in live transport? (Article by The National Humane Education Society)

  • Contact your legislators to express your displeasure with live animal transport.
  • Support legislation to require stricter regulation and enforcement of animal farming welfare and treatment laws to include transport requirements.
  • Adopt a plant-based diet.
  • If you do eat animals, purchase meats from locally farmed animals.

How you can get involved:

Share campaign actions and materials on social media

Participate in online events organised by our global network

Organise your own online event or social media action with friends and family. Get inspired here

Take part in the global twitterstorm on the 14th of June, from 11am to 1pm, using the #BanLiveExport2020



On Friday (14th June) 2019 campaigners across the world united to call for an end to the long-distance transport of animals for fattening and slaughter. Passionate campaigners from 43 countries took over 150 actions to raise awareness on this cruel trade.

From Uganda to Liberia and New Zealand to Canada, Non-Governmental Organisations and activists confronted the live animal transport industry through colourful, but peaceful protests at sea ports, airports and government buildings, making this year’s Stop Live Transport: International Awareness Day, the biggest yet!