Infant calves aged 2 to 3 weeks pushed, sometimes even struck, when they land in a transit center near Cherbourg (Manche). This is what we discover on the video filmed in a hidden camera from March 3 to 6 by the animal welfare association L214 and unveiled this Thursday. At the rate of 300 per truck, the very young animals are landed exhausted, thirsty, hungry. On the images of animal activists, we are witnessing the euthanasia of one of them on the spot because he seems to have not supported the trip.
These beasts actually come from Ireland. They have therefore already undergone more than 12 hours of crossing from the port of Rosslare in their cattle trailer loaded on a boat. They pass through France before continuing their route in general towards the Dutch factory factories. A total of 2,000 km and 50 hours of travel. The association calls for the end of these very long journeys for the more than 1.3 million baby calves which circulate across Europe.
During this Covid-19 period, the French and European authorities insisted that the transport of live animals between states should continue. Thus the Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume recalled on March 25 "that it was essential to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, without hindrance and by facilitating the circulation at the borders of perishable foodstuffs and live animals" at the European Council agriculture and fishing.
"Animal welfare should not be a victim of the virus"
"However, we can not consider that this is a transport of first necessity to feed the Europeans confined, these calves must still be force-fed six months before being killed, I hope that by then , we will all be outside! ”Reports Sébastien Arsac, co-founder of L214. For the activist of the animal cause, these very long journeys also run health risks: "In Ireland, animals are picked up farm by farm, before being concentrated in markets, in transit centers in France, they are manipulated by several operators… ”he insists.
With thirty-seven European associations, his NGO urgently demands that the transport of long-distance live animals of more than 8 hours be prohibited in Europe, like export outside the EU. A petition has also been posted online. There is currently no maximum travel time limit, as long as the animals stop every 19 hours. "The situation is made more worrying by the European Covid crisis", points out for his part Agathe Gignoux, from the association CIWF (Compassion in world farming) who warns: "Animal welfare should not be a victim of the virus ".
Problem, following the world pandemic, borders are closed, and for lack of available personnel, controls are restricted. Vehicles transporting animals were thus refused entry to Croatia. Queues on the German side of the border with Poland of 65 km lead to waiting times of 18 hours. Vehicles with animals are also stuck in very long queues between Bulgaria and Turkey. Drivers transporting live cattle told the NGO Animals'Angels that it takes three hours to cover 300m in no man's land between the two countries.