According to an analysis by the Guardian, animal transport conditions are so horrific that more than 20 million farmed animals die each year before reaching the slaughterhouse.
The Guardian’s analysis reveals that each year, a staggering 20 million chickens, 330,000 pigs, and 166 cows arrive at U.S. slaughterhouses either dead or dying. Another 800,000 pigs arrive too weak, sick, or injured to walk.
Veterinarian and animal welfare specialist Gwendolen Reyes-Illg describes for the Guardian the three most likely causes for these deaths: heat stress, freezing temperatures, and trauma.
Transport trucks are not made to protect animals from harsh weather. In winter, farmed animals endure below-freezing conditions and are exposed to snow, rain, and frigid winds. Some die from hypothermia. Others freeze to the floors or sides of truck beds. In summer, temperatures inside trucks rise to well over 100°F. Many animals suffer heat stress and heart attacks.
Stuffed in crowded trailers or stacked in crates, farmed animals are not even given bedding to make their journeys more comfortable. Some suffer injuries from slipping on urine or manure, their bodies already weak from exhaustion.
Even worse? No law requires that animals receive food or water, unless they’re on the road for more than 28 hours. The 28-hour law doesn’t even cover birds and often goes unenforced. Animal protection organization Animal Outlook recently shared their experience following a pig transport truck for 32 hours straight as it traveled 1,200 miles from Nebraska to California. Never once did the investigators see the pigs let out of the trailer—despite the soaring summer temperatures—or receive food or water.
The meat industry and those responsible for regulating it are fully aware of the issue. The Guardian’s analysis pulls from publicly available data, and a USDA statistician who reviewed the analysis made no corrections to the final figures. Despite this, very little has been done to combat deaths or make transport a little more bearable for animals.
Current U.S. laws do not go far enough in protecting farmed animals during transport. This is why Mercy For Animals is calling on the USDA and the Department of Transportation to modernize U.S. animal transport laws by providing species-appropriate space, rest time, food, water, and protection from extreme temperatures. SIGN THE PETITION.