In the last 10 years the number of live Danish pigs transported on long journeys has increased fivefold, from 1.9 million animals in 2007 to 9.4 million in 2017.
The Danish pig industry has specialized in selling live pigs to foreign countries and Denmark is one of the largest exporters of live pigs in Europe. Last year the country exported more than 14 million live pigs, mainly to Germany, Poland and Italy. However, previously uncovered statistics from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration obtained by Animal Protection Denmark (‘Dyrenes Beskyttelse’) now show that more than 9 million pigs were transported for more than 8 hours, a duration beyond which animal welfare is reduced significantly. The statistics also show a fivefold increase since 2007, when only 1.9 million Danish pigs where transported more than 8 hours.
“The sheer number of animals involved is alarming. Two out of three exported pigs are on trucks for more than 8 hours. Some for much longer than that. The pigs are crammed together in tight spaces, often on trucks with four or more layers. They then have to endure long, exhausting and stressful journeys. This is terrible animal welfare, and it all happens for commercial reasons: it is more profitable for Danish farmers to 2 export piglets for fattening abroad,” says Britta Riis, chairman of Eurogroup for Animals and CEO of Animal Protection Denmark.
In violation of European legislation
The European Council Regulation on transportation of live animals, which applies directly to Member States, establishes that ‘For reasons of animal welfare the transport of animals over long journeys, including animals for slaughter, should be limited as far as possible’.“It is of great concern that despite European legislation clearly stating that transport of animals for long periods should be avoided, authorities have done nothing in response to the recent development in Danish pig transport. Animals were never meant to be a transportable commodity like toasters and refrigerators, and European legislation clearly underlines this,” says Britta Riis.
One of four Danish transports were overstocked in 2015 and 2016
In 2015 and 2016 the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration carried out 175 inspections on exports of live pigs from Denmark. One truck in four (44 cases) was overstocked with animals. Former Danish Minister of Environment and Food, Esben Lunde Larsen, stated this shocking reality in a recent letter to the Danish Committee of Environment and Food. During the period when the 175 inspections were carried out, more than 25 million live pigs were exported from Denmark.
“The number of trucks inspected is a tiny fraction of the total. Millions of animals are affected every year and therefore the authorities should give this much higher priority. The results from 2015 and 2016 clearly show that hauliers are not abiding by the rules, and animal welfare legislation is being disregarded,” says Britta Riis.
Since 2016 Eurogroup for Animals’ member organisations gathered more than 1 million European signatures for the #StopTheTrucks campaign to call for an end to long distance live animal transportation. In 2017 the signatures were handed over to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, as a further signal that action needs to be taken to end long distance live animal transportation. As a result of the campaign, the European Parliament is now working on an implementation report to assess legislative conformity of trade practices behind live animal transport.
Journalists can contact Animal Welfare Denmark at firstname.lastname@example.org or + 45 40 84 15 12.