Millions of Danish piglets longer for EU export on the way

Danish pig breeders exported a record number of more than 15 million piglets and pigs last year, more than 12 million of which were sent to distant countries. In almost all cases this involved transports of longer than eight hours, both inside and outside the EU. 

For example, more than 300,000 Danish pigs were transported to Serbia last year. Poland and Germany are by far the largest buyers of Danish piglets. More than a million went to Italy, but also to other distant destinations.

The maximum permitted travel time in one journey is eight hours, followed by a mandatory rest period of 24 hours. In many EU countries there are calls to further restrict transports of live cattle, but the current European Commission has decided against this at the last minute.

It is the EU that determines the rules for the transport of animals departing from a EU member state. The rules are laid down in the Transport Regulation, which came into force in 2005 and has therefore not been updated for almost twenty years. 

The new Danish figures on long transports also show that only 0.65 percent concerns pigs that have been transported abroad for slaughter. More than 98 percent were pigs for 'further breeding', i.e. piglets for fattening in a foreign herd.

“Last year, for the first time, Danish farmers exported more live pigs than were slaughtered at home. And now the figures show that the vast majority are piglets, which end up on long transports of more than eight hours. It is reprehensible and a wrong direction for our food production,” says Britta Riis, director of Dyrenes Beskyttelse.

In particular, queues or other stops along the way cause rising temperatures in the summer months in trucks with animals, which usually do not have a cooling system in the hold. With record exports of Danish pigs and the resulting long transports, the debate about the need for stricter regulations continues.