Exporting animals for slaughter and fattening is to be banned - just one of the new rules being introduced to improve the welfare of the animals.

Shorter maximum journey times, increasing the amount of headroom during transport and stricter rules on moving animals in extreme hot or cold temperatures are some of the new laws.

The rules, which come alongside a ban on exporting live animals for slaughter and fattening that is currently going through Parliament, will apply to animals transported within England and Wales on all journeys over 65km (40 miles).

Defra says that evidence shows long journeys can cause heat stress, dehydration and injuries in horses, pigs, sheep, poultry and cattle.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We are legislating to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening, and are now developing other measures to improve the welfare of animals during transport.

“We have listened to the concerns raised relating to our proposed changes to transport regulations and have made changes to address these. We will continue to work with industry on the remaining details.”

Responding to the transport measures, NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “Animal welfare is always a top priority for any livestock or poultry farmer and we maintain that new rules or policy should be based on sound evidence and the latest science.

“We’re pleased to see in some areas Defra has taken account of the evidence we presented and made changes to its proposals.

“However, we’re disappointed that other elements are not more meaningfully welfare-focused, utilising driver training and experience.

"For example, we are frustrated that our proposal for a live export assurance scheme has been overlooked, which would have ensured UK rules on transport and processing would have followed animals to other countries.

“We believe basing a transport ban purely on its purpose, in this case for slaughter, is not logical given that farmers and transporters have an inherent interest in ensuring all journeys meaningfully protect welfare at all stages and types of movement.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) welcomes the new rules with the caveat that government has ‘continued meaningful engagement’ with the veterinary profession.

James Russell, BVA president, said: “We’re pleased to see the government standing by its pledge to improve conditions during transport for farm animals, as well as a commitment to work with industry to develop proposals further.

"It’s also positive that they have recognised the need to take a holistic approach.

"The consultation outcome commits to exploring and addressing other areas that can have a significant impact on welfare such as time spent at markets, shows and collection centres, how best to enforce regulations and the importance of regular and formal training for those involved in transporting live animals.

“It’s vital that the government engages meaningfully with the veterinary profession and industry colleagues as they develop these proposals, to ensure that measures are evidence-based and workable and deliver genuine and decisive welfare benefits for millions of farm animals.”