Life cattle tranport at the border

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Live Animal Transport in Europe

Every year, more than 1.5 billion poultry and 49 million live cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses are transported across borders within the EU and to third countries. This is happening right now!

Live Animal Transport in Europe

Every year, more than 1.5 billion poultry and 49 million live cattle, horses, pigs, sheep and goats are transported across borders within and outside of the EU annually. This is happening right now!

0 billion

Poultry are live transported every year

0 million

Pigs are live transported every year

0 million

Cows are live transported every year

0 million

Sheep and goats are live transported every year

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Fast Facts

What you should know about animal transport in Europe

How do animals suffer on transports?

In particular, animals destined for slaughter are often transported for several days and weeks in disastrous conditions. Numerous animals sustain serious injuries and regularly animals die a torturous death during the journeys. Also, animals destined for breeding purposes are transported and suffer from terrifying conditions on these journeys that often last several days and even weeks.

In addition, many animals are bred, reared, and slaughtered in different locations, resulting in several journeys that an animal has to undergo during its life.

The following grievances are regularly taking place during long distance live animal transports on the road:

  • The maximum loading density is exceeded and does not allow animals to rest in a normal position.
  • Insufficient height inside vehicles, especially during the transport of cattle in double-decker trucks.
  • Permitted transport time is exceeded and legally required resting stops are not taking place.
  • Unsuitable loading ramps (e.g. too steep, slippery).
  • Transport vehicles lacking suitable equipment for feeding and watering (esp. when transporting young, un-weaned animals).
  • Transport of animals being unfit for transport (sick animals and such with broken limbs), transport of highly pregnant animals.
  • Fights between animals originating from different stables within the vehicles.
  • Rough handling of animals during loading and unloading, leading to fear and serious injuries of the animals.
  • Poorly trained staff, badly paid drivers, reckless driving.
  • Missing control posts (resting stations) in other countries to enable legally required resting intervals.
  • Temperature limits within the vehicle are exceeded (> 77°F & < 41°F), the animals suffer from heat and cold, numerous animals die of heatstroke or freeze to death.
  • Empty or frozen water supply leads to severe suffering and deaths.

Why is it still happening?

Government regulations and inspections are inadequate! There is a massive lack of controls and penalties. The already weak EU Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport is regularly violated. The few resting stops that are legally required in the regulation and the maximum loading density on the vehicles are continuously disregarded.

Immediate measures and a change in the law are necessary to protect the animals! Sign our petition!

Find out more in our questions and answers here.

What are we doing?

  • On the European level, we ask for a revision of the weak EU Regulation 1/2005 to achieve an end of the cruel long-distance transports of live animals. FOUR PAWS is pleased to share with you this compilation of translations of important articles on the live transport of animals published in professional journals. Find out more here!
  • We call for at least full compliance of existing regulations as a first step and consequent sanctions when infringements are obvious..
  • In May 2020, the 'Farm 2 Fork' strategy was published where the Commission announced a revision of the transport regulation. This was a long overdue step and we fought for ambitious changes to the current laws, and an end  to cruel live animal transports to third countries. 
  • In December 2023, the proposals for the changes in the current laws were released. Years of unwavering campaigning and lobbying have compelled the EU Commission to acknowledge severe animal welfare issues prevalent during live animal transport within and outside Europe. While it is good that some crucial issues are have gained recognition in the proposal, on the whole it lacks the bold ambition needed to address the significant pitfalls in animal welfare. Now, the proposal will undergo amendments  by the Council of the EU (member states) and the EU Parliament, we will fight to make sure that more critical animal welfare issues are addressed. 

What progresses are happening at EU level?

FOUR PAWS is committed to bringing an end to the cruel live animal transport through government collaboration on a national, EU and worldwide level. At EU level, the current legislation will finally be revised – but following the publication of the proposed changes, it is clear that more work must be done. Read more about the progress at EU level for live animal transport.

How can you help?

  • Your purchasing habits and food choices decide day by day how animals are farmed and treated. Set a signal against live animal transport by replacing meat and animal products with plant-based alternatives as often as possible.
  • When buying meat, always make sure that the animal was born, raised and slaughtered in your home country in order to avoid long-distance transports.
  • Support our work: FOUR PAWS calls for a revision of transport regulation to end cruel transports and demands immediate action to address the worst animal welfare issues. Sign our petition!

FOUR PAWS Key demands:

  • End long-distance animal transports
  • Export ban on live animals to other countries
  • Transport ban to countries that do not even comply with OIE standards
  • Maximum transport duration of 8 hours (4 hours for poultry)
  • Ban of transports of unweaned animals
  • Ban of animal transports by sea
  • Slaughter of animals at the nearest slaughterhouse
  • A revision of the EU Transport Regulation 1/2005 to make cruel long distance transports of live animals end
  • No approvals of animal transports by veterinary authorities, where it is already apparent from the transport planning that animal welfare regulations cannot be met
  • No approvals of animal transports when temperatures are < 41°F or > 77°F
  • Strengthening controls on live animal transports
  • More sanctions in case of infringements
  • Transport of meat and semen instead of live animals
  • Own livestock breeding in other countries instead of importing breeding animals from the EU
FOUR PAWS Position Paper

FOUR PAWS Position Paper

Animal transports cause immense animal suffering, which has been documented by animal welfare organisations and journalists for decades. In 2020, the Commission decided, as part of its “Green Deal”, to revise the current animal welfare legislation, including the EU Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport.

Pigs on a truck

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Latest News & Updates

Sheep in transport

FAQ's Live Animal Transport

What you should know about animal transport

Calves on Live Animal Transport

Live Animal Transport of Calves

Every year millions of 'unweaned' animals are transported within the EU to be reared for veal

Live animal transport at sea

Tragedies at Sea – Cartagena and Suez Canal

The suffering of the thousands of animals trapped onboard livestock vessels

Cow inside a truck on live animal transport

Progress at EU level for Live Animal Transport

Timeline of progressive steps as FOUR PAWS is working intensely to change existing legislation


Live Animal Transport: Closing the Gap between EU Requirements and Enforcement

A Collection of Academic Articles on Compliance with the EU Council Regulation 1/2005 on the Protection of Animals during Transport

Sheep being transported via sea

Live Animal Transport by Sea

The long and torturous journeys as animals are shipped to their death

Campaigners in Spain

Haven of hell: At “best”, the Elbeik's 1,610 cattle are killed on site

FOUR PAWS speaks of a total failure of the European Union as well as the Spanish authorities

Campaigners in Spain

After the tragedy of the "Karim Allah", the shipments from Spain are continuing

FOUR PAWS is on site in Cartagena and documents the cruel machinery

Live animal transport of cattle

Tragedy at sea continues: The "Elbeik" sails back to the EU after an odyssey of almost three months with 1,776 cattle on board

FOUR PAWS already reported on the killing of the 895 young bulls of "Karim Allah" this Sunday

Live animal transport in Europe

EU Member States Take Action Against Legal Violations on Live Animal Transports

FOUR PAWS warns that without a comprehensive EU-wide solution, violations will continue

Live cattle at the Turkish border

EU Parliament Votes for Committee of Inquiry on Live Animal Transports

FOUR PAWS applauds milestone decision in favour of animal welfare


After Dramatic Shipwreck, Global Pressure, Romania Plans to Regulate Live Exports

FOUR PAWS continues to fight for safe shelter for surviving sheep 

Pigs on a truck

Find out more:

Have a look at our FOUR PAWS Position Paper on Animal Transports via Road and Ship with concrete description of the situation and our conclusions and demands. 

Also have a look at our detailed Background Paper on live animal transports,  including information about concrete examples of infringements, approval procedures, responsibilities and
the legal situation in Germany that eventually led to a stop of third country exports of breeding cattle of the main exporting German Länder.

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