Opinion with county councillor Karen Constantine: Ending live exports from Ramsgate Port

Live exports at Ramsgate Photo Chris Constantine

Many of us are rightly horrified by the inhumane and cruel trade in live animal exports from the Port of Ramsgate. We have been told this will stop when Brexit comes into force at the end of this year. We have been promised an end to these excessively long journeys and the distress that is caused.

Many people have diligently campaigned over many years against this abhorrent trade. Most ferry operators won’t now accept this type of livestock cargo, but the infamous ‘Jolene’ does. On November 23 at 9am a further lorry load of sheep will again be driven through Kent to depart our shores at Ramsgate. The last episode saw some 3000 sheep in 6 lorries dispatched to Europe on the Jolene. Usually this would attract a lively, but well disciplined demonstration. I’ve attended some myself, and what I’ve seen is well conducted protest by people that are passionate about animal rights and welfare.

Importantly the protesters do usually also manage to film inside the trucks to check the condition of the sheep particularly looking for injured livestock and checking the water supply is ok. These animals are often in distress and have already been travelling many hours. It’s a very sad sight to witness.

Police ban protests

Photo Chris Constantine

Sadly, on Monday (November 23)the next occasion for export of sheep from Ramsgate, Kent Police have decided to ‘clamp down’ on protesters with threats of significant fines of £200, and the possibility of gaining a criminal record if demonstrators turn up as usual. I’m sure most people will comply. Whilst I can see the public health issues in light of Covid I would have much preferred to see the police engage positively with the protesters to discuss and agree on how a socially distanced demonstration and welfare check could take place. I’m sure it’s possible.

KCC say trade will stop

Photo Chris Constantine

In light in the on-going concerns about this foul trade in Ramsgate, on October 22 at KCC full council I asked for an update on live animal exports from the Port of Ramsgate. I was told by Roger Gough, Conservative leader at KCC that live animal exports in Kent would be stopped.

I have now been able to obtain more detail. The export of live sheep for slaughter does indeed look likely to stop, but I’m not yet sure it’s guaranteed. What is clear however is the trade in exporting live chicks will be maintained. Live animal exports will continue.

Brexit travel chaos a threat

There are also real concerns about the potential of a no deal Brexit to disrupt the Ashford livestock market, causing more distress to animals. Each Tuesday around 5,000 animals are brought to Ashford for sale. Kent trading standards say that although there is a traffic management plan in place, there are risks, the livestock being bought into Kent could suffer from delays due to traffic congestion. Any such delay that takes an animal over 8 hours in transit would require a type 2 vehicle, which crucially is equipped with water and ventilation. The extra expense would presumably be passed to the consumers. Plus of course there could be animal welfare concerns.

Live chicks are big business

The scale of live chick exports is astounding. In 2018 HMRC estimated exports from the U.K. were worth £139m, meaning 25 million chicks (and turkey chicks) were loaded onto trucks, boats and planes for export to the EU and much further afield. According to a report earlier this year, most of the trade in chicks is for “high-value breeding stock for both egg layers and broilers, from chickens with sought-after genetic characteristics”. Trade in chicks is big business. I never knew the scale of this.

Post Brexit, it’s perhaps correct to assume that if air freight remains significantly declined, more of this trade in live chicks will be exported through sea ports. Indeed, KCC’s Brexit preparedness indicates livestock will be ‘held’ at inland facilities, such as Ebbsfleet. Any delays could have disastrous consequences and there is no clear plan currently to ensure high animal welfare standards during cross-Channel delays. I’m making enquiries and I will be seeking reassurances that full welfare measures will be put into place.

Of the 9 million chicks exported to mainland Europe, I hope none transit through Kent.  We don’t want to see the introduction of such exports from Ramsgate. Ultimately I’d like to see all such trade brought to an end on ethical and environmental grounds.


  1. Labour was against Brexit, now they can’t wait for it to happen in the hope of stopping live exports, make your minds up. Labour did not want Manston Airport reopening I bet when it does they will be the first to fly to their holiday destination. Hypocrites.

    • Considering there are no passenger flights planned for years if ever,I doubt anyone will be flying anywhere unless as cargo in the hold.

    • Being against Brexit and not wanting animal exports are completely different and unrelated things.
      I think Brexit is a really, really bad idea. Several countries will lose out, but the UK will lose iut the most. 6 weeks to go, and there is still no deal with our biggest trading partner, Europe.
      The government is clearly very, very worried by the idea that come 1st Jan 2021 there will be huge queues of trucks stretching back along Kent’s motorways and trunk roads, leading to grid lock that won’t just be unpleasant for livestock, but for people too. Unable to get about, to work, shop, hospital.
      Assuming there’s any work to go to, produce to buy in the shops or medicine in the hospotals.

  2. Cruel and discusting.If this was dogs and cats treated in this way we would all be outraged. You can hear the 6week old calves crying from Ramsgate port for over a mile out to sea. We can remove our feelings from these animals by pretending they are just livestock and have no feelings! Money always comes first. Humans wonder why we have pandemics from zoonotic disease?learn from your mistakes. The animals on this planet are not for humans just to take! We are supposed to be caretakers! End this cruel trade now!

  3. Thank you for such a good article about exports.
    I wish more people would understand we are not idiots and most of us won’t see 50 again. We just hate cruelty and we don’t have to be cuel just because they’re farm animals. This pandemic has been caused because of the animals being eaten by some people and we need to wake up and take responsibility about what we do to this planet and the othé species we share it with.

  4. Apart from banning the live export of animals for slaughter, one measure which would reduce the need for animals to travel long distances would be the re-introduction of numerous small local slaughterhouses. (I mean”local” in a general sense, not specific to Thanet.)

  5. Labour big wig Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt has worked with those doing vivisection.
    Indian Journal of Experimental Biology.
    “Development of preincubated chicken eggs following exposure to 50 Hz electromagnetic fields with 1.33-7.32 mT flux densities*
    In most of these studies, chick embryos were killed at the end of two days exposure period, and their morphology described. In this way, the information obtained was based on the short-term effects of magnetic fields
    There was only one case of monophthalmia in control and sham-exposed groups, which had abnormal beaks and brain (Fig. 1b). These embryos had crossed-beaks, with their upper beak tilted towards the side of brain with abnormalities, which also happened in sham-exposed embryos with anophthalmia.
     The authors are grateful to Miss Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt “
    Nasty experiments on chicks!
    And on rats.

    Department of Biology, Faculty of Science Shahid-Beheshti University, Tehran, I. R. of Iran


    And again

    Acknowledgements- We, the authors, are grateful to Miss Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt.

    • It is optional to take part in this kind of work. It is a moral choice to support vivisection by contributing to, assisting and collaborating with this the industry that profits from this form of research. I don’t think the Nuremberg trials were much impressed by the defence of “I only edited the Final Solution”.

  6. What is the statute of limitations for complicity in collaborating with the animal research industry and their abhorrent vivisection practices? You know at some point it will be 16yrs after Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt submitted her Phd Thesis, but I’d still expect her to use the title of Dr Gordon-Nesbitt in every possible opportunity.

  7. If you disapprove of Dr. Gordon-Nesbitt’s previous behaviour then it’s her you need to discuss it with, not me. I have not even stated my opinions on animal testing.

    However, I don’t think experimenting on animals is comparable with the Third Reich’s attempt at genocide.

  8. I’m discussing this in a public forum and I made no such comparison. I was pointing out the culpability of every part played in immoral and inhumane acts, including, writers, editors and researchers.

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