Today Eyes on Animals met with an official from the EU DG Sanco to present our concerns regarding the welfare of chickens during transport. Over more than 1 year now Eyes on Animals inspectors, and recently also our apprentice, have been checking on livestock trucks transporting spent hens and broilers to slaughter. In many cases we were shocked by our findings: many trucks had dead, sick or seriously injured birds on board (wings crushed by the crates, heads squished by the doors…). The design of the different transport containers do not fulfill the requirements of the EU legislation, particularly regarding accessibility to animals during transport (in every case it was impossible to help the injured and dying birds as during transport there is no access to them), avoidance of injury, ensuring safety, and providing adequate headspace.
In our report we propose taking some of the current positive aspects of some containers we have seen, and adding new ideas to them to coming up with a better transport-container model that respects the EU- welfare legislation and protects the welfare of the birds.
We will now insist that the chicken transport industry makes improvements to reduce the suffering of chickens during transport (better crate design and catching teams that load the animals with more care), and demand that the EU and Member State authorities apply the same enforcement procedures and expectations on thechicken transport industry as on the transport companies of larger livestock. The EU transport law protects all live vertebrates equally. It is time poultry benefit from this legal protection too, and their poor transport conditions no longer tolerated just because its “common practice”.