animal transport, animal welfare


Animal Transport

Animals are transported both nationally and internationally for slaughter and breeding. There are laws and regulations regarding animal transport to ensure animal welfare. Sometimes things go wrong, however, and these mistakes appear in the headlines of newspapers. Animals get injured, are too hot or cold, or do not get enough rest and opportunities to eat and drink.

When it comes to animal welfare during transport, the circumstances just before transport are important as well, meaning when the animals are selected and put aside, loaded into the vehicle and unloaded at the place of destination.

Improve and measure animal welfare

Wageningen Livestock Research develops and validates methods to improve, increase transparency and guarantee the welfare of animals before, during and immediately after transport. Wageningen University & Research also performs field tests to measure animal welfare in the developed methods.

Publications animal transport

Current animal transport projects

Development of a EU wide animal transport certification system and renovation of control posts in the European Union

In this European project protocols are developed that assess the welfare of animals which are unloaded at control posts and slaughterhouses through specific parameters. The aim of this project is to develop a certification system for carriers/transporters at a European level. In this project, Wageningen Livestock Research has taken responsibility to coordinate the development of protocols for measuring animal welfare, especially during unloading. The species that are included in this project are pigs, cattle, horses and sheep.

Experiences of predecessors with automatically setting parameters to ensure animal welfare during transport

This project will run concurrently with the EU project (Development of EU wide animal transport certification system and renovation of control posts in the European Union) and focuses mainly on creating a database in which parameters are recorded. In addition, experience of predecessors in animal transport with automatically setting animal welfare parameters will be listed. The EU project will also include a cost-benefit analysis, which will provide insight into the benefits (welfare/bio-security) and the costs of alternative control systems. This information will be used in this project as well.

Animal Welfare Checkpoints

In this project protocols are developed and tested, which provide insight into the welfare of animals for slaughter during the process from primary works (readying for transport) up to the slaughterhouse. The protocols have been developed on the basis of the Welfare Quality® system and are specially focused on transport (including loading and unloading of the animals). The protocols are developed and tested for poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. The project was started in late 2011 and will run through 2014.

Driving and rest times during transportation of heifers

This project examines the effects that rest under optimal conditions has on the welfare of heifers during long-distance transportation. The following is meant by optimal conditions: enough time to eat, rest and drink, the animals have plenty of space and the climate can be adapted. To assess animal welfare, both behavioural and physiological measurements are performed during a number of long-distance transports to France.

Criteria for fitness for animal transport

This project is linked with the control posts I EU project. In this project, animals are evaluated upon arrival at a Control Post (after a transport of 24 hours or more) and before leaving for the next destination. The idea behind this project is that the degree of fitness of animals before departure partially determines the state of the animals at the end of the journey, and that animals with different fitness experience various degrees of disadvantages under the same transport conditions. Protocols have been drafted to assess the level of fitness, and these are tested in practice. Besides the results of animal assessments of the Control Post projects, data on emission-animals  in the Netherlands will be collected. This project focuses on cattle and pigs.