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Welfare of cattle during transport

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Note: The Outcome of the public consultation on the Welfare of Animals During Transport (small ruminants,bovines,pigs,horses,poultry and rabbits) is available under the Supporting Information section of the opinion on small ruminants.


In the framework of its Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of the animal welfare legislation. The present Opinion deals with protection of cattle (including calves) during transport. Welfare of cattle during transport by road is the main focus, but other means of transport are also covered. Current practices related to transport of cattle during the different stages (preparation, loading/unloading, transit and journey breaks) are described. Overall, 11 welfare consequences were identified as being highly relevant for the welfare of cattle during transport based on severity, duration and frequency of occurrence: group stress, handling stress, heat stress, injuries, motion stress, prolonged hunger, prolonged thirst, respiratory disorders, restriction of movement, resting problems and sensory overstimulation. These welfare consequences and their animal‐based measures are described. A variety of hazards, mainly relating to inexperienced/untrained handlers, inappropriate handling, structural deficiencies of vehicles and facilities, poor driving conditions, unfavourable microclimatic and environmental conditions, and poor husbandry practices leading to these welfare consequences were identified. The Opinion contains general and specific conclusions relating to the different stages of transport for cattle. Recommendations to prevent hazards and to correct or mitigate welfare consequences have been developed. Recommendations were also developed to define quantitative thresholds for microclimatic conditions within the means of transport and spatial thresholds (minimum space allowance). The development of welfare consequences over time was assessed in relation to maximum journey duration. The Opinion covers specific animal transport scenarios identified by the European Commission relating to transport of unweaned calves, cull cows, the export of cattle by livestock vessels, the export of cattle by road, roll‐on‐roll‐off ferries and ‘special health status animals’, and lists welfare concerns associated with these.