Investigations by Eyes on Animals, Ethical Farming Ireland and L214 reveal that young calves, imported from Ireland, are still kept on board of trucks for over 30 hours without giving them any milk. Not feeding unweaned calves for such a long period is in violation of Council Regulation 1/2005 which requires feeding after a maximum of 19 hours.
Unweaned calves, like all babies, are totally dependent on milk for all their nutritional needs and have an inherent need to suckle. They do not yet have a fully developed immune system which makes them very vulnerable to diseases. Depriving them of milk for such a long period is ethically unacceptable.
This feeding interval also applies to journeys on a Ro-Ro ferry, which was already confirmed by the European Commission in 2020. Nevertheless these journeys – that routinely violate the maximum feeding intervals – continue to be approved by the Irish authorities and executed by the industry, such as VanDrie Group and transport companies from Ireland as well as the Netherlands.
The actual period without food is often even longer than 30 hours, as calves should rest for a couple of hours after feeding at the assembly centre before being loaded onto the truck for the 18 hour ferry journey to France, plus there is the journey time to the port and the control post in Cherbourg, then the calves often have to wait for several hours before being fed at the control post – as several thousand of them arrive at the same time.
Eyes on Animals, together with EFI and L214 will continue their efforts until this illegal trade, on the backs of young, vulnerable calves, will end: by sending letters to the official authorities, the European Commission, MPs, industry stakeholders and by taking legal action, generating media exposure and continuing our inspections.