Unease over welfare conditions prompts exporters to consider air as a more humane alternative.
Irish authorities have announced plans to export veal calves by air, following growing unease over the length of journeys livestock face when exported by sea, reports the Guardian. There is a surplus of unweaned dairy calves in the Republic at the moment and around 200,000 animals are exported to the continent every year.
However, the government has been subjected to sustained scrutiny over the welfare of the animals, with campaigners saying livestock transportation rules are routinely flouted and many animals face “nightmare journeys”.
The decision to experiment with flights comes as the European parliament committee of inquiry is examining alleged failures to safeguard transported animals and the Dutch government has pushed for a ban on journeys over eight hours duration for all unweaned animals.
Farming groups have welcomed the air trial and Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers Association, said: “We want to see calves flying out of this country”. He said the cost of flying was double that of transport by sea, but that flights could enable the industry to reach new markets.