Essere Animali shines a light on the experiences of lambs during live transport in Italy


Essere Animali shines a light on the experiences of lambs during live transport in Italy

6 April 2023
Essere Animali
Press Release

Our member, Essere Animali, recently collected footage that exposed the conditions lambs face while being transported during Easter. Their investigation was raised to the Chamber of Deputies at the Italian Parliament during yesterday's ‘question time’ by Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida.

Poor and ineffective controls. The rules on animal transport in Italy are not respected

This was said by Eleonora Evi, deputy of Alleanza Verdi e Sinistra, who tabled a direct question to the Minister precisely to highlight the dramatic problems that still affect live animal transport, particularly long-distance transport.

‘Italy is a country much affected by the long-distance transport of lambs and young sheep, especially during the Christmas and Easter holidays. In 2022 - out of a total of 2,199,832 lambs slaughtered in Italy (source: Istat) - 653,303 came from Eastern Europe (mainly from Hungary and Romania). These transports often involve animals that are only a few weeks old, which have to endure traveling up to 30 hours inside trucks. 

Last March, Essere Animali, along with members from the police, carried out road checks from Gonars to the province of Bologna and Florence to monitor the transport of lambs arriving from Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Six out of seven lorries were traveling in violation of the rules, with serious cases of overcrowding, lambs stuck in the partitions of the lorries, unusable watering systems and being generally unsuitable for the transport of this species.

In one case in particular, the lorry stopped near Altedo (Bologna) had 200 animals more than the permitted load, and three lambs were slaughtered by the Italian authorities because they were no longer able to continue the journey. Ultimately, current regulations are inadequate to guarantee the protection of animals during transport, one of the most stressful phases and cause of suffering for animals raised for food’.

Live transport of lambs

It’s time to change the trend - and call for this cruelty to end 

The images and complaints collected by Essere Animali and the police once more show how the transport of live animals is a practice that must be overcome, and how important it is to robustly revise the rules that should protect animals during journeys.

When questioned on the revision of the European Regulation on the transport of live animals during the Question Time in the plenary session, Minister Lollobrigida confirmed that he did not support Portugal's proposal, contrary to what was previously stated. Portugal's briefing note, strongly contested by many other Member States, in fact re-proposes the status quo and calls for 'continuing to facilitate intra-EU trade and the export of live animals, without focusing on measures to ban or restrict certain types of transport'. 

Evi adds: ‘This position is frankly unacceptable, considering that the current European Regulation is not only incomplete - a condition unexpectedly noted by the Minister himself - but also outdated and very weak as well as constantly violated by the Member States… [it] is disavowed day after day by the incredible amount of analyses and scientific opinions that confirm what we have been advocating for some time: the need for rules that protect animal welfare starting from species-specific needs’. 

‘We therefore take note of a possible change of position on the part of Italy, which has until now been ambiguous in its positions at European level, and certainly not vocal against maintaining the status quo unlike many other EU states. We therefore expect to see, in line with what the Minister has said, our country lined up with those countries that play a proactive role at European level in support of ambitious and courageous positions to provide the EU with a transport regulation that seriously focuses on animal welfare, starting with listening to scientific recommendations, greatly reducing traveling hours, banning long journeys and exporting outside the EU, banning the transport of unweaned animals and creating the conditions for a transition to transporting meat, carcasses and genetic material instead of live animals,’ she concludes.