UK Government proposes bill to ban live animal exports for slaughter and fattening[edit | edit source]
November 7th, 2023 - The UK Government has announced a new bill that would end the live exports of animals from Great Britain for slaughter or fattening. The bill was proposed on November 7, 2023, as part of the King’s Speech, which outlines the Government’s legislative agenda for the next year.
The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill would make permanent the ban on exporting cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses for slaughter and fattening, which has been in place since 2021. The bill would still allow live animal exports for other purposes, such as breeding and competitions, provided they meet legal requirements aimed at protecting animal welfare.
The bill comes after a public consultation in 2020, which showed that 87% of respondents agreed that livestock and horses should not be exported for slaughter and fattening. The Government said that long journey times pose welfare risks such as stress, exhaustion, and injury for the animals. For example, journeys of unweaned calves from the UK for fattening in Spain were found to last on average 60 hours and often even longer.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) welcomed the bill, saying that it supports the idea that animals should be slaughtered as close to the place where they are reared as possible. The RSPCA also advocated for a carcass-only export trade, which would reduce animal suffering.
The UK Government’s previous attempt to impose an export ban as part of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was scrapped earlier in 2023, due to legal challenges from the European Union. The new bill is expected to face less opposition, as the UK has left the EU and is no longer bound by its rules on animal trade.