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UK live exports must end

On 12th September 2012 a 4-tiered lorry, crammed with sheep for live export, rolled into Ramsgate past a group of dedicated protestors, including members of KAALE and TALE. The lorry was destined for the Continent. It has long been known that the port at Ramsgate is simply not fit for this purpose. And what happened next exposed a litany of extraordinary cruelty and utter incompetence. It also prompted a decision by Thanet District Council which briefly brought about the end of live exports from the UK.

A shipment of farm animals leaving Ramsgate

A previous shipment of farm animals leaving Ramsgate

Image courtesy of Kent Action Against Live Export (KAALE). Photographer Val Cameron.

The lorry was met by RSPCA and Animal Health Inspectors. Reports indicate that the lorry was stopped due to vehicle faults. We believe this lorry has been stopped more than once for similar reasons in the past. The true extent to which the lorry was not ‘fit for purpose’ was about to become much clearer.

The sheep were unloaded while the transporters sought a replacement lorry. Two sheep, one with a broken leg, had to be euthanized due to their injuries. Seven sheep fell into water after they were moved into an area where the floor collapsed. Four were rescued by RSPCA Officers, but three drowned. The horror of that moment and the swift actions of the RSPCA Officers are sure to be remembered by all involved for a long time.

Following these tragedies a vet examined all the animals. Another 41 were found to be severely lame and had to be euthanized. We have been told that approximately half of that number had foot rot (a very painful condition) or other longer standing illnesses. This report raises the question of how they were judged to be fit to travel?

The other half had broken limbs, dislocated joints or severe muscle damage. Our sources indicate the cause of these dreadful injuries could be found in the lorry. It appears that the hydraulic floors were not fit for purpose and left a gap between the walls and the floor. It is thought that the injured sheep got their limbs caught in the gap during transit.

In all 46 sheep died.

The suffering caused was completely preventable. Live animal export must be stopped. It must be replaced by a trade in meat. There was briefly some good news, as on 13th September Thanet Council temporarily suspended live exports from Ramsgate. Sadly, this decision was recently overturned by a Judge, allowing live exports to continue. Following a brief resumption from Ramsgate the trade has shifted to the Port of Dover. Join us in demanding that the Government permanently ends live animal exports.

Fill in your details below and click submit to email the following message to George Eustice, Minister of State at Defra.

Dear Mr Eustice,

A lorry carrying sheep destined for slaughter on the continent was stopped in Ramsgate on 12th September 2012 due to faults with the vehicle. The animals were unloaded. Two sheep, one with a broken leg, were put down. Another 41 severely lame sheep were euthanized. Seven sheep fell into water after they were moved into an area where the floor collapsed. Four were rescued by RSPCA officers, but three drowned.

I urge Defra to permanently halt live animal exports from the UK. The events at Ramsgate show that this trade can be detrimental to animal welfare, regardless of which port animals are exported from.

I also urge you to work with the sheep and dairy sectors to bring the export of live animals from any UK port to an end. An attempt to move the trade to Ipswich Port has been thwarted, temporarily, by the decision of the port’s owners to suspend live exports after just one shipment. The recent resumption of the trade from Dover is of major concern and I hope you will work to end this trade from all UK ports.

Yours sincerely,

Dear Mr Eustice,


A lorry carrying sheep destined for slaughter on the continent was stopped in Ramsgate on 12th September 2012 due to faults with the vehicle. The animals were unloaded. Two sheep, one with a broken leg, were put down. Another 41 severely lame sheep were euthanized. Seven sheep fell into water after they were moved into an area where the floor collapsed. Four were rescued by RSPCA officers, but three drowned.


I urge Defra to permanently halt live animal exports from the UK. The events at Ramsgate show that this trade can be detrimental to animal welfare, regardless of which port animals are exported from.


I also urge you to work with the sheep and dairy sectors to bring the export of live animals from any UK port to an end. An attempt to move the trade to Ipswich Port has been thwarted, temporarily, by the decision of the port’s owners to suspend live exports after just one shipment. The recent resumption of the trade from Dover is of major concern and I hope you will work to end this trade from all UK ports.


Yours sincerely,