Exposed: The long, cruel road to the slaughterhouse

See the campaigners' video as investigation reveals misery of global trade in animals

Millions of animals are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of meat traders by enduring cruel, drawn-out journeys across the world to be slaughtered on arrival.

The alarming evidence of their suffering has been revealed after a secret investigation by 10 major animal charities, including the RSCPA, Compassion in World Farming and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). In shocking footage, animals including horses, pigs, sheep and chickens are seen being transported thousands of miles across the world, when they could as easily be carried as meat.

Thousands of animals die en route from disease, heat exhaustion, hunger and stress. The others escape the intolerable conditions only to confront, immediately, the butcher's knife.

The video is the product of the Handle With Care coalition, which has united animal charities to campaign against the abhorrent practice. The coalition, which is lobbying for change in the countries concerned, unveiled an international campaign yesterday in countries including Brazil, Australia, the US, Spain and Italy.

Spain to Italy: Horses driven for 46 hours before slaughter


Across the world, more than a billion live animals are transported every week, many over long distances. The video reveals the horror of five particularly gruesome journeys. Australia, the world's largest exporter of live animals, sends more than four million live sheep every year to the Middle East. Shipped in cramped, poorly lit dens, the journey takes 32 days. Three sheep are crammed per square metre in the ship's hold, causing many of the animals to die of suffocation before encountering the slaughterhouse weeks later.

Those sheep that do arrive are fattened before being killed in accordance with Halal butchery laws. Eighty per cent of Australia's abattoirs are Halal-certified, raising the question of why they could not be slaughtered in Australia and transported frozen.

Many live exports are undertaken to make the fraudulent claim that the animals are home-reared. In Spain, thousands of horses are illegally crammed into lorries for a sweltering 46-hour journey to Italy. Canadian pigs, in conditions just as obscene, are condemned to a 4,500-mile journey by land and sea to Hawaii, so that, when slaughtered, their carcasses can be sold as "Island Produced Pork". For nine days, hundreds of pigs are crammed together in the dark, standing in their own excrement. Exhausted and hungry, they become ill, vomiting from motion sickness and waiting for long periods without food.

Canada to Hawaii: Pigs transported for nine days

Compassion in World Farming's chief executive, Philip Lymbery, said: "The cruelty these animals endure is completely unacceptable in the 21st century. This trade is one in which millions of animals suffer cruel and unnecessary journeys each year. It must stop."

Despite EU regulations which should protect the animals on the filmed routes, the horses are denied adequate food and water, and endure temperatures of up to 40C.

Speaking on behalf of the International League for the Protection of Horses, Jo White said: "Long distance transport for slaughter is the biggest single abuse of horses in Europe, with around 100,000 involved in the trade. The ILPH is committed to ending this unnecessary suffering and with the review of EU legislation next year, urges the public to demonstrate its objection to this inhumane trade as a matter or urgency."

Rules on the minimum standards of care for the transit of live animals are flouted regularly, with many in such cramped conditions that they have no room to lie down. In Europe alone, some six million animals are taken on long journeys of up to 70 hours, which often cause extensive suffering.

No investigation is usually conducted into a live export unless more than 2 per cent of these animals die in transit; those in the industry say that 1 per cent will die on their journey – equivalent to about 40,000 sheep dying in inhumane conditions each year.

Campaigners say that humans could also be at risk from the live shipping as diseases such as bird flu are spread more easily. Britain's trade in live animal exports is not on the scale of countries such as Australia, but the coalition wants the practice stopped altogether. In this campaign, the coalition hopes to emulate the success of the veal calf campaign of the 1990s, which saw the export of live calves banned in 1996. One woman even gave her life to the cause as she attempted to stop a cattle lorry at Coventry airport.

But after a decade of keeping the trade at bay, pressure from the farming industry prevailed. Traffic resumed in 2006 when the EU lifted the ban after a downturn in the number of BSE cases in the UK.

Each year, 80,000 live sheep and lambs are taken from Britain to continental Europe, and campaigners believe they could be dealt with more humanely by being slaughtered before transportation. David Bowles of the RSPCA said: "We are urging everyone to support this campaign so that we can stop this cruel and unnecessary trade."

'Live animals were living on top of carcasses'

An undercover Compassion in World Farming investigator tells of seeing zebu cattle arrive in Beirut on a ship from Brazil:

"When I boarded the ship the first thing that hit me was the smell. Even before it had docked you could smell it, a combination of ammonia from the stale excrement, the sweat of the packed cattle, and diesel from the ship.

Video footage of the cattle


"I didn't have to look hard to see the effect of this. I saw two cows lying dead as soon as I got on board; the crew had been unable to get them out from among the live animals, who were living virtually on top of their carcasses. I'm not a vet, but it looked like the impact of that journey had been too much for them.

"The crew said there were 2,500 cattle on board, and you had animals falling down that couldn't get up again because they were struggling to find the space to stretch their legs. It was so confined they were constantly pushing against each other, even while the ship was stationary. I dread to think what it would have been like when the ship was moving. It was a very stressful environment; the noise of the engines and the dark made it unbearable for me being down there for just a few hours, but I can't imagine what it was like for the animals on that 17-day journey. In Lebanon, the temperature was in the high 30s, but in the metal hold of a confined ship it was unbearable.

"Because these were zebu from Brazil, they had lived wild on expansive ranches. So when they were moved on to trucks and ships, they didn't understand their environment. They bashed against the confines of the lorry in an attempt to find their way out. And, in an effort to keep them as stationary as possible, the traders had packed them in so closely they could hardly move.

"There was no provision made at all for the fact that what they were dealing with was a living thing, not an inanimate object. It was the same with the ship. The space they were kept in on this threeweek trip was simply a metal floor with little or no surface to provide grip; they were keeping wild animals in what was basically a tin.

"And at the end of this brutal process, the very reason for their live transportation seemed defunct, as they were slaughtered in front of each other, a practice not considered halal by the experts I consulted.

"As we stood there filming, all I could think was, 'This is so unnecessary and so cruel'."

Pigs

Crammed together in the dark, the animals are condemned to a 4,500-mile journey to Hawaii. They suffer from exhaustion, hunger and vomiting caused by motion sickness.

Cattle

Zebu cattle are forced to live in their own excrement during this appalling journey; some of the 2,500 animals on board die on the way from heat stroke or respiratory disease. The rest are killed on arrival.

Horses

The animals are squeezed into lorries for this sweltering journey. They are denied adequate rest, food and water. And all so the meat can be marketed as being of "traditional Italian" origin.

Goats

15,000 animals a week are packed into trucks for the 2,500-mile journey with nothing to eat or drink. Temperatures exceed 40C, and many of the animals die from dehydration.

Sheep

Australia sends four million live sheep every year on the barbaric journey to the Middle East. They are transported in such cramped conditions that many die of suffocation on the way. On arrival, they are killed according to Halal butchery laws.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power