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Dear supporters and friends,

Ireland has a large dairy industry with seasonal calving. Every spring hundreds of thousands of calves are born. But the moment they start to breathe, most are unwanted.

Therefore, every year the Irish dairy industry ships thousands of tiny 2 - 3 week old calves to livestock auctions and assembly centres and then trucks them onwards to the ports to get loaded onto boats that bring them to mainland Europe.
Young calves on their way from Ireland to mainland Europe.
The Netherlands, followed by Spain, is the biggest importer of these young and fragile animals. The Netherlands has a huge white and rose veal-meat industry, where calves are still kept on slatted floors and in barren indoor conditions.
Calves in the Dutch veal industry, a miserable life indoors on slatted floors.
During this voyage, the mandatory EU feeding intervals are completely ignored, leaving calves going for hours without any nourishment. This causes serious health and welfare problems – the veal sector remains the sector that uses the greatest amount of antibiotics still and there is a reason for that.

For years this illegally-run export route has been tolerated by the pertinent authorities and industry. But Eyes on Animals will not give up. We continue to expose it, year after year, and demand action from the main stakeholders.

We are pushing for a change in the entire dairy and veal industry, so that calves are never sent off at such a young age but rather kept much longer on their farm of birth and raised in better conditions.

March 2022: investigation of calf export from Ireland

This March, Eyes on Animals and Ethical Farming Ireland investigated what happens to calves from the moment they leave the Irish dairy farms to Rosslare port in Ireland. Member of European Parliament Anja Hazekamp asked us to join!
Together we clocked 2 – 3 week old calves going from the farm via a livestock market (where they were sold through a loud stressful auction ring) and then trucked to Rosslare port for an 18-hour ferry ride to Cherbourg, France.
Irish calves at just 14 days of age being sold through auctions for export.
MEP Anja Hazekamp (Party for the Animals) and Lesley Moffat at Rosslare port, Ireland, where calves are shipped to mainland Europe
The total time these tiny calves were in transit was 50 hours. During this entire time they were only fed milk once. This is a serious breach of EU law. Our report is now with the EU Commission and several journalists (see here one of the articles), and Anja Hazekamp has been holding meetings about it in Brussels with fellow politicians.

We have also had the two largest Dutch veal companies at our office. The ferry company facilitating this route is also aware of their involvement in illegal activity and insists they want to get things straight.

And: the Dutch Minister has just announced that he is looking at possibilities to phase out these imports. He mentioned publicly our report and the 50 hours!

Our 2019 investigation

Perhaps you remember, back in March of 2019 Eyes on Animals was also investigating and exposing this route, together with the French organization L214. Back then we were investigating what happens to the Irish calves once they arrive in France and are trucked to the Netherlands.

At the time we documented severe animal abuse at the control post “Qualivia” in France, where the Irish calves are supposed to finally get rest and milk after their first long leg of the journey. Instead of giving the thirsty calves time to drink milk upon arrival, the impatient employees start hitting them brutally on their heads to stop them drinking after just a couple of minutes. One employee is even seen kicking the calves and stomping on one too weak to stand up.

This case was brought to court and the verdict has just been made public - this employee has been sentenced to 8 months of jail and is prohibited from working in an animal-related profession for the next 5 years and from keeping any animals for the next 3 years.

> read the verdict (French)
2019: Cruelty to unweaned calves at a control post in France

We are keeping this a hot topic, and we won’t give up until there is an end to shipping such young animals that can barely walk and do not have a fully developed immune system. Irish unweaned calves deserve our action!

Thanks to your help we can continue our work for the animals. THANK YOU for your support!
Lesley Moffat
director Eyes on Animals
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