On 20th May 2024, a new ban on exporting live cows, sheeps, goats, horses, and pigs for slaughter and fattening came into law in the UK as the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Act 2024 received Royal Assent. The Act ensures that farmed animals in the UK are killed in the UK and not transported to another country so they can be killed there. However, live exports for other reasons, such as for breeding and competitions, will still be allowed provided animals are transported in line with legal standard requirements of animal welfare. 

Live exports for slaughter have been on hold since December 2020 when the Bill was first introduced but they could have restarted at any moment before this ban was eventually passed by both houses of parliament in May 2024. Before 2020, about 1.6 million animals had been exported from the UK. A government consultation showed that 87% of respondents wanted to see live exports banned, and now their wish has come true.

Yvonne Birchall, from Kent Action Against Live Exports (KAALE) said, “For 29 years, KAALE and their supporters have demonstrated outside UK ports as live export shipments have been loaded on vessels bound for Europe … our members are the last friendly faces millions of animals will have seen before being exported. We are delighted that the law will finally ban this cruel trade and the people of Kent will no longer need to stand up in opposition to it.”

Anna Judson, British Veterinary Association President, said:Whilst it’s positive to see a permanent ban on the live export of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses for slaughter and fattening coming into force today, there is still work to be done to ensure the welfare of the animals impacted. The new rules focus on journey times and distance travelled, however, what is needed is a well-defined set of standards that ensure the welfare needs of the animals being transported are met during the whole journey, no matter the purpose of the travel.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.