Welfare of animals during transport - consultation: summary report

Analysis of the responses received to the full public consultation, between 4 December 2020 to 26 February 2021, of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee's opinion on the welfare of animals during transport.

Question 14

Do you agree the Scottish Government should consider the proposed review on research into transportation by rail or air alongside other research priorities? Please provide any further relevant information.

The Scottish Government notes the proposal for a review of the scientific literature on whether any particular welfare issues are associated with other forms of transport, such as rail and air and we note that the systematic review did look at what literature there was for different forms of transport such as air. This will be considered alongside other research priorities.

Table 16 – Breakdown of respondent groups to question 14
A chart showing the percentage of responses to question 14 on proposals on research into rail and air transportation.

Of the 316 responses to this question, 59.8% agreed that the Scottish Government should consider the proposed review on research into transportation by rail or air alongside other research priorities. 19.3% were not in favour and 20.9% did not express a view.

A number of respondents considered that the transport of animals by rail and air, apart from high value breeding stock, was not seen as a ”research priority as it had limited application in Scotland” (Onekind) and that “transport by road and sea is more prevalent” (Humane Society International UK). Support was given by a number of respondents to research into existing transportation methods; partly due to the consideration that it was “unclear why the Scottish Government should devote scarce research funds”(Scottish Pig Producers) towards the subject of air and rail transport.

The majority of respondents identified as residing in the Western and Northern Isles considered that the issue of air and rail transport was not relevant to their location and would “not have any impact in those areas” (individual). A couple of respondents from Orkney suggested that rail transport would not be applicable locally “unless there is a tunnel constructed” (individual) under the Pentland Firth.

Other respondents mentioned the movement of equines or poultry by air as species most likely to be transported by that method. A trio of welfare organisations, and around 40 individual supporters, voiced concerns that “chicks, and especially one-day old chicks, are particularly vulnerable”(Animal Aid) during transportation. One of these also “disagree with the Scottish Government that air transport is an option to be considered” (unnamed organisation) citing “turbulence, air pressure and noise” as detrimental to animal welfare.

A few respondents, including the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, considered that there was little published research on the transportation of livestock species by rail or air that could be reviewed. Dogs Trust and World Horse Welfare provided links to research information on the transportation of their client animals. An unnamed organisation mentioned that while published research in the equine sector was “limited”, what existed supported “air travel being regarded as rest” and not counting towards journey time.


Email: Animal_Health_Welfare@gov.scot

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