Inspectors from AWF and EonA flew to Bulgaria yesterday. Considering that we will soon be giving a two-day training to the Bulgarian police and official veterinarians, we needed to check out the most current conditions for animals in transit there. Our team arrived early at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey this morning, to check on 5 trucks with Austrian pregnant heifers on board, destined for farms in Turkey. The team did not observe any visible violations of the transport regulation. The animals and the conditions inside were very good - lots of fresh straw, water and the animals were not overcrowded. They had received a 24-hour rest break in the EU before attempting to cross into Turkey. (Pregnant animals for further production are of higher value, and thus they fortunately often get better care than animals going for slaughter.)
All farmed animals are transported at least once in their lifetime. Journeys can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks. Transport is known to be one of the most stressful experiences for animals. They are moved from a familiar territory to a new one and are held often under very crowded conditions. They get separated from each other and mixed with unfamiliar animals, which can lead to stress and fighting. Sometimes there is no water and feed available or the animals cannot reach it. Animals that wish to lie down during the journey are at risk of being trampled by the others. Sometimes conditions on board are very cold or very hot, leading to animals dying from hypothermia and suffocation. There are laws in place to prevent these types of problems, but there is very little official inspection during the journey to check if these laws are respected. Eyes on Animals regularly trails and checks livestock transport consignments to see if the welfare of the animals is respected during transit.