Eyes on Animals and L214 again uncovered physically abusive treatment of unweaned calves coming from Ireland and heading to the Netherlands at one of the two control posts in Cherbourg (France) this year. See footage of 2020 here. Last year in 2019 we did too, at the other control post in Cherbourg. See footage of 2019 here. Irish exporters and Dutch importers, as well as the transport companies, ought to be doing everything possible to put an end to this violence, as they put the calves they export and import through these control posts and thus know that “their” animals are being badly treated. They could meet with the French managers of the control posts and have a serious word with them, boycott them, offer the workers a welfare-training etc… We were very disappointed that we never heard of any action they took to improve the situation. As far as know, the stakeholders on this route did nothing.
We thus recently contacted ten of the main Irish calf exporters, asking them to take action to against the abuse. Unfortunately only one replied, but at least the reply was empathic. He too was shocked and condemns the abuse. Due to confidentiality we have withheld his name but here is what he had to say:
‘’It is a total outrage what happened on these two occasions you have highlighted I think it is a total disgrace that those involved where not arrested and given a custodial sentence I have told my drivers if any of them abuse animals they are dismissed straight away and no second chances whatsoever as we pride ourselves in animal welfare. I think both lairages in Cherbourg should be held accountable . Why can a veterinary officer not be on site for unloading,feeding and reloading times to assure safe handling and adequate feeding. Thank you for your email feel free to contact me anytime as this type of behaviour in these lairages needs to come to an end. Why can someone not suggest it is mandatory for trained people with qualified cert’s only be allowed to feed and handle animals in these control posts as in the videos i can see people who clearly have no skill or patience to handle animals.”
Out of the Dutch stakeholders we contacted we only received one direct reply, from a chauffeur. However, SBK (the Dutch foundation for the calf sector) did get in contact with us and provided their reaction to our investigation
‘’SBK has taken note of the news and images from Eyes on Animals regarding the transport of calves from Ireland to the Netherlands. The images of the treatment of the calves at the French resting place are terrible. This animal suffering is poignant and SBK is indignant about this. The Dutch veal sector assumes that the animals are treated correctly at a resting place that has EU recognition. SBK also agrees with the recent response from LNV to parliamentary questions about the abuse of these calves. SBK considers it very important that calves are treated with care and attention. Stress and discomfort should be avoided as much as possible. That is also only in the interest of Dutch veal farming. SBK aims to promote the quality and health of calves. The welfare of calves is of course a great asset. This applies throughout the calf chain. SBK will continue to pursue this objective together with its affiliated parties.’’
We are relieved to finally have some direct communication with some of the stakeholders about this problem and to see that there is common ground. We hope now that their concerns will be translated into effective action. As this goes to print, we have not received further feedback from either party but will inquire whether they took action and if it lead to positive changes. Hopefully via direct communication and insisting that they help out, a stop to the rough handling can be achieved.