"IACA foresees serious damage to the sector, both in the supply of raw materials to the industry and in the manufacture and distribution of feed to animals, during the strike by the drivers of dangerous goods, if the inclusion of the sector … in the definition of minimum services to be fixed in government order is not confirmed," the group said in a statement.

According to the association, the sector produces an average of 15,000 tonnes of feed a day that "will not reach its destination" if it is not included in skeleton services, "bringing into question the feeding of about 40 million animals. "

The sector every day uses more than 500 lorries to transport of raw materials to manufacturing sites, as well as 1,200 trucks to transport rations to farms. All told, the association said, "stopping these transports represents a loss of 4 million euros per day".

In addition, with any breakdowns in supply, there could be the "occurrence of animal health and welfare problems", forcing the "rapid intervention" by the DGAV, the food and veterinary inspectorate.

"Most companies do not have stocks for more than two days, and many work with stocks of one day, due to financial issues and lack of storage conditions,” IACA said. “The non-inclusion of the sector in the tovernment order that will define the minimum services brings into question a sector that represents, directly and indirectly, 2.8 billion euros of annual turnover, i.e. 38% of the total of the nation’s agricultural economy” of €7.2 billion, the IACA statement quoted its secretary-general, Jaime Piçarra, as saying.

The association also said that it had already called on the government to consider feeding the animals "as a priority" in defining minimum services, in a missive sent to the prime minister, António Costa, to other members of the government and to the DGAV.

It warns of disruption to the normal functioning of some 84,000 livestock farms and the daily feeding of 9 million laying hens, 23 million chickens, 1.6 million cattle - of which 235,000 are dairy cows - 2.2 million pigs and 2.5 million sheep and goats.

The indefinite strike called by the SNMMP union, which represents the drivers of lorries carrying dangerous materials, and the SIMM lorry drivers’ union, from 12 August, indefinitely, threatens the supply of fuels and other commodities nationwide.

The government is to set legally mandated minimum services for the strike, on the basis of proposals from the trade unions and the road hauliers’ association ANTRAM that range from 25% and 70% of normal services, as well as on whether they should include the work of loading and unloading goods.