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Horrific treatment of Irish dairy calves being kicked and stamped on by workers

7th May 2019


The ISPCA is horrified and angered by the footage released by animal welfare groups Eyes on Animals and L214 of Irish dairy calves being physically abused, kicked, dragged by the ears, thrown and stamped on by workers at a control post in France after arriving on a ferry from Rosslare in March. We are calling on Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture to launch an immediate investigation and to immediately suspend the export of calves from Ireland to France and the Netherlands until the investigation is complete. Such brutal and cruel handling of calves is completely unacceptable and must not be tolerated. The investigation by Eyes on Animals and L214 also found that calves were transported for over the maximum allowable journey time of 19 hours (as per the EU Transport Regulations (Council Regulation EC 1/2005), not rested or fed appropriately with lorry drivers exceeding the maximum allowed number of driving hours, risking not only animal welfare but also themselves and other road users. The investigation also found that the trucks being used to transport the cattle were overcrowded and did not have accessible drinking water for the calves during the journey. We hope that any transport company that is found to be in breach of the regulations is penalised robustly.

Video courtesy of Eyes on Animals and L214


The ISPCA is also concerned about the large increase in the number of dairy calves being exported to the continent from Ireland over the past few years following the rapid and unsustainable increase in the Irish dairy herd from 1.1 million to 1.5 million over just a few years. This has led to an increase in the industry’s waste product i.e. male calves which are of no use to the industry. This year the industry aims to export over 200,000 dairy calves from Ireland. This year the dairy industry has already exported 29,000 calves, 34% more than the same period in 2018. The ISPCA believes it is time for the government to explore alternatives to live exports of calves including raising male dairy calves for the beef or veal industry with the meat to be exported on the hook not the hoof and to work with the importing countries to increase capacity to import chilled or frozen meat products. We also would like to see the government encourage farmers to produce rose veal for export and support the high welfare standards introduced for this purpose by the RSPCA Assured scheme in the UK.

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