The European Commission has proposed limiting journey times for unweaned calves to eight hours, with the possibility of derogations extending this to nine hours if lorries are equipped with facilities approved as being suitable for feeding out warm milk.

After the nine hours of transport, a one-hour period of rest is to be required, which can then be followed up by another journey capped out at nine hours to the calves’ final destination.

The sea leg of an exported calf’s journey is not counted in these limits.

These proposals would mean that the export of calves is limited to destinations within nine hours’ driving distance of ports on the continent.

Road transport times for weaned cattle and sheep not on their way to slaughter will be limited to two 21-hour legs with 24 hours’ rest in between at a suitable lairage under the proposals, which would also require a one-hour rest after each 10-hour period of road transport.

This means that the live export of livestock, such as weanlings, young bulls or pedigree stock, by ferry would be limited to delivering stock only to final destinations within 20 hours’ driving distance from the port the exporter arrived in.

The duration of the journey when the animals are at sea was not capped in any of the Commission’s proposed journey times.

Any animal movements to slaughter would face a maximum transport time of nine hours under the proposals.

Further plans

Haulage vehicles will need to be equipped with GPS to allow for the real-time monitoring of their location and compliance with journey times.

In the case of live exports to countries outside of the EU, an area of the proposals particularly relevant to Irish weanling exports to countries in north Africa or the Middle East, the exporter must ensure that the animals will be transported in compliance with EU regulations for the entire journey.

Exporters transporting animals outside of the EU will need to undergo certification under the proposals, with their adherence to standards to be kept in check using unannounced inspections.

The much-anticipated proposals are due to be announced as part of an animal welfare shake-up under the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy.