On 11th July 2023, the French association L214, Irish Ethical Farming Ireland, and Dutch Eyes on Animals, three European animal protection NGOs, complained to the European Commission about the transport of very young calves from Ireland to the Netherlands via France without food for long hours. They said they intend to take legal action against those responsible for violating a European regulation regarding the protection of animals during transport. When alleged violations of European rules happen, the Commission can request the countries concerned to take corrective measures and bring proceedings before the European courts if the violation continues.
After separating them from their mothers, the calves are loaded into cars in Ireland, which are then boarded on ferries to France, where they would hit the road again to the Netherlands where they will be fattened and then killed for human consumption. Investigators of these complaining animal protection organisations have recorded that the calves remained in the trucks without being fed for a period of between 27 and 40 hours, after which the observed transport times systematically exceed the maximum limit of 19 hours set by European regulations.
According to a 2021 report by the French Livestock Institute, up to 150,000 calves are transported every year from Ireland, mainly in the spring during the peak of “milk births”. The export of these calves accounts for less than 20% of the calves of the Irish dairy herd.
L214, which has filmed the various stages of the transport of the animals, also indicated that it filed a parallel complaint for “serious ill-treatment” and “ill-treatment” against an animal transit centre based in the Manche department near Cherbourg. They also said they filed a compensation claim against the French state for the lack of veterinary services.