Animals are forced to endure overheating, starvation, dehydration, cramped conditions and even death on long distance journeys.

On 8 June 2021 the UK Government introduced the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill to parliament, which introduces a ban on the live export of farmed animals for fattening or slaughter, from or through Great Britain.

The Bill has since been dropped. The UK Government has confirmed a ban on live exports will come in a separate Bill.


We are urging the UK Government to deliver a ban across the whole of Great Britain as a matter of urgency.

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What are the welfare issues with live exports?

Live transport of cattle

The long-distance transport of live animals to Europe is a serious animal welfare problem. In 2018, around 5,728 calves were sent from Scotland for fattening to Spain, while 4,587 sheep were exported to Ireland for slaughter. In 2019, 2,082 calves discarded by the dairy industry were exported to Spain for ‘fattening’ on journeys lasting up to 135 hours.

Long journeys

There is no maximum duration of journey limit, which means that journeys may be excessively long. Scientific and veterinary evidence shows that long journeys impose stress on animals, especially when they are young.

Cramped & inadequate conditions

Animals are crammed into vehicles so tightly, that many become injured or may even be trampled to death.


Sheep transport

With animals crammed into vehicles during summer months, it is no surprise that heat stress is one of the most common welfare issues onboard live export ships.

Starvation & dehydration

Animals may be in transit for days without adequate access to food and water.


Animals are transported all year round, in very hot and freezing temperatures and so disease is rife. Unweaned calves are particularly susceptible to infection and illness, as like human infants, their immune systems and undeveloped.


With long journey durations and large numbers of animals aboard live export ships, the live export trade has been the subject of large-scale disasters. For example, last year a live export ship travelling from Romania to Saudi Arabia capsized, resulting in the deaths of more than 14,000 sheep.

Media coverage highlights

Recent media coverage of our campaign to ban live exports include features on BBC's Reporting Scotland and an article in The Times

"We are alarmed to learn that these animals were subjected to longer journeys to mainland Europe,” said Bob Elliot, director of OneKind, a Scottish charity campaigning against cruelty to animals.

M.Macaskill, ''Cruelty' of long haul for sheep transported from Scotland to France via Ireland'The Sunday Times, 17 January 2021

Our progress to ban live exports

We’re taking a stand against this horrific trade.


Our recent highlights include:

  • Releasing the 2021 report “Emotional beings- Why farmed animal welfare matters in a Good Food Nation”.
  • Responding to the UK Government’s consultation on improvements to animal welfare during transport.
  • Supporting Compassion in World Farming’s judicial review of the Scottish Government’s decision to export weeks old calves. Following the legal proceedings, the Scottish Government ceased to export live calves.
  • Taking part in the #BanLiveExports Day ‘Twitterstorm’ each year with international animal welfare organisations from around 30 countries. In 2020, 3,100 people tweeted the Scottish Government about it’s failure to protect animals from the live export trade and the campaign was picked up by Deborah Meaden and Peter Egan.