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Home > News > Government to ban live exports for fattening and slaughter

Government to ban live exports for fattening and slaughter

3rd Dec 2020 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has announced plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening, among other proposed measures intended to improve the welfare of animals in transit. 

LorryThe Department said the announcement was the start of a 'renewed push to strengthen the UK’s position as a world leader on animal welfare'.

The live export ban will not affect exports for breeding purposes, which are hugely important for the UK pig sector, or poultry exports.

Around 6,400 animals were transported from the UK directly to slaughter in continental Europe in 2018, based on internal figures.

Launching an eight-week consultation on the proposals in England and Wales, Defra said live animals commonly have to endure excessively long journeys during exports, causing distress and injury.

But while, previously, EU rules prevented any changes to these journeys, it said leaving the EU has enabled the UK Government to pursue its longstanding ambition to end live exports for slaughter or fattening, becoming the first country in Europe to do so.

Other proposals to further improve animal welfare in transport more generally, include:

  • reduced maximum journey times
  • animals being given more space and headroom during transport
  • stricter rules on transporting animals in extreme temperatures
  • tighter rules for transporting live animals by sea.

    Mr Eustice said: “We are committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life. Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter.

    “Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice. We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter.”

    This consultation takes into account the responses to the 2018 Call for Evidence, as well as the report published by the then Farm Animal Welfare Committee (now known as the Animal Welfare Committee) into the existing welfare standards for animals during transport.

    Defra indicated there will be more announcements on animal welfare to come, with 'further proposals to improve standards and eradicate cruel practices expected to be set out in the coming months'.

    NPA initial reaction

    NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "These proposals have potentially significant implications for the UK pig sector.

    "We will scrutinise the document very closely and respond in detail to the consultation, stressing, that while we support moves to improve pig welfare, any changes introduced must be fully backed by evidence."