LIVE ANIMAL EXPORT

AUSTRALIA 'S SHAME

DRAFT - page under revision with updated figures

Farm to Feedlot: cattle, sheep and goats.

The sheep are bought by agents from the farmer and are transported over the next 14 days in the 4 tier trucks we see on the roads to feedlots. There are Codes of Practice and the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) set out for the trucking of animals outlining the stocking densities, conditions etc. of the animals on board, however these codes are entirely voluntary and there is NO policing undertaken to ensure the trucks are not over loaded and that the animals are fed, watered, are upright or otherwise in good condition at the beginning, during and after the trip.

The WA Dept of Agriculture, Journal 31(3) reviewed 2002 states that sheep are "counted and those with injury, overt ill health or not-to-specification (wrong sex or those in poor condition) are rejected. Rejected animals are either destroyed or sold for slaughter." Whereas this may possible be the case when the animals get to the feedlot- we only have the live export industry word for that, but we do know for a fact is that there is NO monitoring or enforcement by ANY Federal or state government department in ANY STATE to ensure compliance with the animal welfare requirements within the Federal live export regulations (ASEL) or the state animal welfare legislation from SOURCE to PORT. This means the animals transported from the farm or source can be ill, suffering minor or major injuries, unfit for transport and moved from the farm to the port and onto the ship.

It is of immense concern that the Australian Government is misleading the world in such a way as to suggest that the export regulations governing live export are complied with because they wouldnt know. It is also of immense concern that animals are routinely transported and that both the Federal and state governments know and ignore that these animals are not checked to ensure compliance to the reulations and legislations. It is our firm belief that the Federal and state government wholeheartedly and unreservedly support this legal cruelty due to the fact they FAIL to fund routine livestock inspections for compliance.

Time and time again serial non compliance has been proven by those involved in animal welfare yet the exporter continues to get his licence to live export from the Australian Government and the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) trust that the exporter will comply and do not check the animals for welfare. They instead turn a BLIND EYE.

The sheep stay for 1-5 days (cattle up to 30 days and goats 10 days) at the feedlot in order to accustom the animals to pulverised pellets. The pellets turn to dust due to machine handling and the moisture in the air once the ship is at sea can make any remaining whole pellet crumble. This 'powder' is what the animals are made to eat (see Bader III report). Salmonella associated scouring diarrhoea tends to appear after 5 - 7 days and so the first occurance does not appear until the animals are on board. Salmonella is one of the causes of high mortalities. (In 1983, 15,000 sheep died from exposure in Portland feedlots while awaiting loading. see Death Files)

 

This photo was taken in Eritrea feedlots, Ghiteley 25-30 kms from Massawa, port of Eritrea . Please note the pulverised pellets the sheep have to eat. The excrement line is clearly visible on most of these sheep and we suspect that they are from the top decks Many appear to be in very poor condition and the rams have not been de-horned according to the regulations. Click here to see the sheep on the bottom decks!


Photo courtesy of Australian Vegetarian Society - copyright Mark Berriman

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The Industry Self-Regulates:

Loading:

The sheep are then loaded and trucked to the wharf. It is apparently a common practice to overload trucks with sheep, and reports of 'crushed sheep' were bought to the attention of AQIS (Federal Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) and the RSPCA, over the December 2003 January 2004 period. Not a great deal has changed since 2004, except to say that RSPCA plays NO part in port or transport inspections of any animals. What can be seen at portside is the arrival of trucks with sheep on sheep, sheep smothering other sheep and downers-they are sheep which are unable to get up perhaps because they have broken legs, crushed ribs, internal injuries or are dying. Common incidents of heads and legs trapped outside the sides of crates because the animals have no room to pull their body parts inside the pen. This shows clearly that there are just too many animals inside the crates. There is also a great number of sheep transported to the port with sharp horns, shearing cuts, long wool (longer than 1") and with eye infections. The transportation from feedlot to portside of animals which exhibit such conditions clearly demonstrates a failure of the industry to comply with requirements of the ASEL.

Despite the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) requirement that EVERY animal is individually inspected for compliance with the export criteria and fitness for travel, they are not. AQIS do visit the loading of a ship from time to time, however much of the loading occurs without their presence. As is clear, there is no independent monitoring or policing of this trade. The exporter contracts a vet who possesses accreditation provided by AQIS to say that he has, apparently, an understanding of the requirements of live export to check the sheep as they pass by on the race to the ship. It would be inconceivable in our view that one vet could possibly check 100,000 sheep as they run by. It stands to reason therefore that there is every chance that many sheep who should not be exported are indeed exported.

The current government of Western Australia has decided that as animal welfare is NOT a priority and as a result the funding has been slashed to the point that at the end of 2009, the inspectorate will cease to exist. Our sources tell Live Export Shame that the WA government decided after intensive and powerful lobbying, that the AWU should be a part of the Dept of AG and Food WA (DAFWA). This means that the govt dept responsible for promoting the use of animals will play policeman and enforce animal welfare. This is a clear conflict of interest but because certain lobby groups are powerful, they get what they want.

The loading ramps should be constructed with suitable hoof-holds for each animal type, to make loading of all animals safe and easy. There are certain regulations relating to ship design, fodder and water supplies, loading ramps, number of animals that may be carried and stocking density, and the design and arrangement of pens and care of livestock on board. This regulation is covered in the Marine Orders MO43, part of the Navigation Act 1912 administered by Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Depending on the ship capacity the loading of the sheep may take anywhere between 1 and 4 days. The ships are usually 3 layers of pens per deck, and depending on the ship, have 2 or more decks.

Some ships are 'closed' like the example of the photo of the Cormo Express, subjecting the animals to a lack of ventilation which leads to fatally high ammonia levels and the high humidity causes heat stress. This type of vessel relies entirely on fans for ventilation and many cases these systems break down and the recirculation of exhaust air causes fatalities. It is common to see cattle being forced to move faster toward and through the loading ramps by people using electric prodders.

Closed ship with the animals below deck. Cormo Express

Other ships have 'stacked' decks and many ships can be a combination of both however the open 'stacked' decks cause more problems for animals especially those in the outside pens which subject the animals closest to the sides of the ship to continual salt spray which can cause blindness. They are also subjected to the radiated heat from bulk heads, fuel tanks and sun on top decks plus rough weather. This type of ship relies mainly on natural ventilation.

The Al Shuwaikh taken 1981, is an open stacked deck vessel. Note the bloody carcasses heaped at the bow (front) of the ship. These will be animals that have been retrieved. Others, due to the failure of hoists to lift the dead and dying animals clear of the pens, are often left where they drop and have to be manually cut up and removed in bits. This dissection is preformed in front of other cattle. When sheep go 'down' they are hauled out and either thrown down the mincer on board or are thrown over the side of the vessel.
Visit http://www.maldivesculture.com/maldives_dead01.html for reports on sheep and goat carcasses washing up onto island beaches in the Maldives
.

During the voyage as revealed by two 60 Minutes expose segments on television in 2003, the animals suffer oxygen deprivation, heat stress, pneumonia, disease (Salmonellosis,) trauma, diarrhoea, inanition (refusal to eat) which is starvation, motion sickness, sleep deprivation and ammonia poisoning causing respiratory deterioration and blindness.

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Starvation or Inanition:

"About half of all sheep that die during sea transport to the Middle East do so because they fail to eat from the moment they leave the farm. These animals are used to eating pasture not 'pulverised pellets'. With annual shipboard death rates of about 2%, this means that up to 75000 sheep per year die because they persistently refuse to eat.

The overcrowding results in death due to the inability of the animals to reach the feed which more often than not is contaminated by faeces and urine from the animals on the decks above. Cruelty report, Bader Report, Common Health Problems.

 

This chart clearly shows the percentages of mortalities for sheep from the first stage of the journey, trucking to unloading the animals at the destination.
Voyage deaths account for nearly 54% of the total deaths.

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Conditions aboard the ship:


These sheep are swimming in faeces & urine

This photo is courtesy the website of Federal Senator Andrew Bartlett. (Australian Democrats.) It was taken aboard the Cormo Express during the latest disaster in August-September-October 2003. These sheep are on the lower levels of the vessel. The two sheep in the foreground of the photo are of an older sheep and a lamb. Sheep do give birth en route to the Middle East as witnessed by a stockman on board a sheep ship. The full story is on our 60 Minutes transcript 21 September 2003 . For more information on mortality rates and reasons for sheep deaths click here.

There is very little information supplied by the industry as to goat exports and relevant mortality rates.

Goats: Consignments of goats (particularly wild goats) have been associated with high mortality - currently averaging in excess of 2.3%. We received a report from a stockman who stated that up to 50% of goats die en route. This figure includes the trucking and shipping. "Goats are inherently more difficult that sheep and cattle to prepare and transport." Source: An Action Plan for the livestock industry. Oct 2002

(In 1998 The 'Anomis' arrived in Malaysia from Geraldtown WA in January with over 2,400 goats and cattle but could not unload  due to a financial dispute between the exporter, shipper and importer. The ship was held up for over two weeks and some 283 goats and 154 cattle are reported to have died. No report has yet been provided! see Death Files)

Pregnant cattle: Pregnant cattle suffer greatly with problems such as heat stress, high mortalities, abortions and calvings. Source: An Action Plan for the livestock industry. Oct 2002

Summary Statistics on Livestock Mortality for the Period 1999 to 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cattle Exports  (1999 - 2006) - source ABS  

 

 

 

Calendar Year

Total Number of Livestock Export Voyages

Total Number of Cattle Exported

Overall Cattle Mortality Rate %

Number of Voyages which exceeded the Cattle Reportable Mortality Level

% of Total Livestock Voyages Resulting in Reportable Cattle Mortalities

Overall Mortality numbers

1999

441

844,000

0.34

15

3.4

2,869

2000

461

895,000

0.19

21

4.6

1,701

2001

466

822,000

0.19

17

3.7

1,562

2002

479

939,564

0.24

11

2.2

2,236

2003

395

763,215

0.11

6

1.9

840

2004

294

614,584

0.10

#

#

615
2005
251
563,047
0.14
#
#
788
2006
240
635,000
0.18
#
#
1,143
2007
261
712,320
0.10
#
#
741
2008
285
983,653
0.11
#
#
1,131
             
To 2008 - 13,626 cattle have died enroute, and that is of course if the 'reported' death rates are reflective of the true tally.
         
         

Sheep Exports  (1999 - 2006) - source ABS

 

 

 

Calendar Year

Total Number of Livestock Export Voyages

Total Number of Sheep Exported

Overall Sheep Mortality Rate %

Number of Voyages which exceeded the Sheep Reportable Mortality Level

% of Total Livestock Voyages Resulting in Reportable Sheep Mortalities

Overall Mortality numbers

1999

 

5,026,000

1.34

5

1.1

67,348

2000

 

5,422,000

1.31

13

2.8

74,028

2001

 

6,812,000

1.26

25

5.4

85,831

2002

146

5,944,963

1.24

13

2.4

75,181

2003

104

4,546,211

1.00

#

#

40,006
2004
61
3,326,439
0.75

#

#

24,948
2005
63
4,063,623
0.95

#

#

38,604
2006
63
4,167,034
0.90

#

#

37,503
2007
61
3,768,953
0.99
#
#
37,409
2008
63
4,584,756
0.88
#
#
40,241
             
To 2005 - 521,099 sheep have died enroute, and that is of course if the 'reported' death rates are reflective of the true tally.
             
             
Goat Exports  (1999 - 2006) - source      

Calendar Year

Total Number of Livestock Export Voyages

Total Number of Goats Exported

Overall Goat Mortality Rate %

Number of Voyages which exceeded the Goat Reportable Mortality Level

% of Total Livestock Voyages Resulting in Reportable Goat Mortalities

Overall Mortality numbers
1999

27

16,336
2.57
**
**
420
2000

40

21,038
1.78
**
**
374
2001

80

74,028
1.88
**
**
1,392
2002

72

111,451
1.66
**
**
1,850
2003

57

52,600
0.80
**
**
420
2004
33
21,822
0.89
**
**
194
2005
26
14,706
0.78
**
**
115
2006
25
25,353
0.49
**
**
124
2007
23
24,307
0.11
**
**
172
2008
9
6,276
1.32
**
**
83
             
To June 2006, 5,144 goats have died enroute, and that is of course if the reported' death rates are reflective of the true tally.

 

Please note: None of the death rate figures above include any deaths by catastrophe such as the Cormo Express in 2003 or the Maysora 2006.

# AQIS does not make these figures available
** Export industry does not make these figures available
The unavailability of certain export figures is an example of the Government and Industry's so called transparency - read this article

Source: Meat and Livestock Association.

The above table are the figures for the 'reported' mortality rates aboard the ships. There have been constant questions asked about the validity regarding these figures. Dr Tony Hill, interviewed on 60 Minutes and Mr Mark Croucher author of a letter he wrote to the Guardian Newspaper, as Ships Radio Officer on two voyages on the Cormo Express have both been eye witnesses to falsified mortality reports. On 30 July 2003 , just after the first 60 Minutes screening the livestock trade was aired, the Federal Minster of Agriculture, ordered AQIS to investigate the claimed misreporting of livestock shipment mortalities.
http://www.affa.gov.au/ministers/truss/releases/03/03201wt.html

Click link for the complete 1990 - 2006 export statistics

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Offloading the animals at ports of destination:

Air circulation is at a minimum when the ship is stationary and of course when the ship docks the ventilation system ceases to operate. Hence many animals die waiting to be unloaded onto trucks that are not purpose built. The surviving sheep, goats and cattle are crammed into trucks and driven sometimes long distances to feedlots where they stay until the traditional slaughter is carried out or they may be taken directly to the slaughterhouse where a brutal, cruel and slow painful death awaits them.

None of these countries use a pre stunning method, unlike Australian abattoirs which administer a stun gun blow to the head to deaden the agony of slaughter. Most livestock exported to the Middle East must bleed to death.

Halal and kosher meat preparation traditionally require that slaughter be carried out with a single cut to the throat while the animal is still alive, but anti-cruelty campaigners say there is no religious reason to forbid pre-stunning.

The death throes of an animal suffering a mortal throat gash are commonly dismissed as "just twitching nerves" despite veterinary research which shows sheep remain conscious of the pain for 30-40 seconds. For cattle, it's more like 90 seconds due to a secondary blood supply to the brain that prolongs the suffering.

Knife-only killings are still accepted as normal practice throughout the Middle East and in parts of Africa and Asia . Read the Feb 2006 - 60 Minutes transcript and see Animals’ Angels video. For more on the Animals Australia 2006 investigation in the Middle East:

Australian state governments want us to believe that they have set strict guidelines for Australian slaughterhouses which must use captive- bolt stun guns even for kosher and halal prepared meat. It was apparent that the Commonwealth allows animals which have been exported alive to be subjected to butchering methods overseas that would never be tolerated here. However, in July 2007, an export slaughterhouse in Victoria was found to be cutting the throats of sheep without first pre or post stunning. This practice is accepted by AQIS. The following link will take you to the story about the cruel killing methods used. http://www.liveexportshame.com/news2/index.php/topic,3395.0.html

Australia is the world's biggest livestock exporter. In 2002 Australia shipped out 5,943,557 head of sheep and 899,647 head of cattle as well as 101,253 goats (ref source Dept of Agriculture WA - National exports mortality summary - 2002; - N.B. these figures are not necessarily accurate as there appears to be conflicting figures from Government & Industry).

There are practices like in (one particular) abattoir in Egypt to get the animals down, they cut the tendons of their legs, smash their knees and stab their eyes to try and control the animals that are terrified and jumping all over the floor - and then it has its throat cut without any stunning. See Dr Petra Sidholms 2001 eye witness account. - Read the harrowing account of the typical Islamic slaughter of sheep in Morocco - Latest 60 Minutes Feb 2006 & update

Source AAP  article, Amieu website.
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Australia sends their animals overseas for slaughter to.

Sheep: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, territories administered by Palestine, Ukraine, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Brunei, China, Japan, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Philippines.

Cattle for slaughter: Qatar, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, territories administered by Palestine, Mauritius, Kuwait, Mexico, China, India, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and USA.

Breeding cattle: Israel , Kuwait , Indonesia , Japan , Malaysia , India , Philippines , Singapore , Hong Kong , New Zealand , Brunei , New Caledonia , USA , and Mexico.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, Australian Government. 24 October 2003 .

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