A new tracking and monitoring system to protect animals during long journeys

July 17, 2006

Brussels, 14 Jul 2006

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (DG JRC), has developed technical specifications and a prototype tracking system to monitor and control transports of live animals. National authorities and stakeholders broadly agreed upon these as a tool for Europe-wide enforcement of animal welfare.

The European Union has very stringent rules to protect animals during transport. However, the conditions of millions of live animals transported every year throughout Europe are difficult to monitor and control. New European legislation will require from 1/1/2007, tracking systems for animal transports lasting more than 8 hours.

The "animal welfare in transportation" project of the Joint Research Centre and the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General (DG SANCO) provides the technical specifications for an effective tracking system which will

  • give animal transporters a tool to help them comply with animal welfare requirements, by recording and transmitting real time information during the journey;

  • enable competent authorities to perform more targeted, effective and efficient controls on animal transports and ensure uniform transport conditions all over Europe;

  • reduce the administrative burden for transporters and competent authorities and contribute to the prevention of fraud.

The JRC has developed a prototype which is already installed in a commercial animal transport vehicle. This system, using GPS and sensors, automatically records data such as time, position of the vehicle, temperature in the animal compartment(s) and the state of loading doors (open/closed), at short intervals of about 5 minutes. At predefined intervals (~ every 60 minutes) the system sends via GSM/GPRS some of this data to a remote receiver to check whether the duration of transport, resting times and compartment temperature(s) comply with animal welfare requirements.

During an international workshop held in Varese on 12-13 June 2006, animal welfare authorities in Europe and a wide range of stakeholders (animal welfare organizations; livestock transport and trade organizations; the meat processing industry; the farmers' organization and manufacturers of navigation systems; communication systems and long journey trucks) have been consulted. The results from the workshop confirmed the need to develop a new approach to the issue, particularly with regard to the management and transmission of data on animal welfare.

A larger scale field trial of the tracking system is planned for the near future.

Joint Research Centre
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