Today a team from Eyes on Animals and Ethical Farming Ireland, accompanied by Member of European Parliament Anja Hazekamp, visited Enniscorthy calf market, just south of Dublin. Many unweaned calves exported to the Netherlands and Spain and Belgium come from this market. Some of the calves at todays’ market are only 10 days of age. We are told that they will be held back in Ireland until they are 15 days of age, as only then can they be exported. The rest are between 2 and 4 weeks of age. They have to pass through a noisy auction ring, where they are held for a minute or so and made to walk in circles, so that traders in the crowd can bid on them. Afterwards they are moved towards waiting pens. The man responsible for moving them in the auction ring was calm and did not hit or scream at the animals. Having only one person in the ring is much better than having several people in the ring, as the more people surrounding a young calf, the more fearful the calf is. Nevertheless the noise from the auctioneer in the loud speakers was stressful and loud. The pens where the calves wait before and after being sold had a good layer of straw bedding, but no drinking water. We were told that they normally do not stay overnight, but if some do, they appoint an employee to give them milk.
It is mandatory by law that animals have access to water on markets at all times. Many of the calves had hollow stomachs and diarrhea. Some pens were quite crowded. We will alert the market authorities to our concerns and see if we can get some improvements in place.