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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : WA Export News October 24, 2013, 09:37:00 PM

: Livestock Shipping Services at the center of investigation over 49 cattle deaths
: WA Export News October 24, 2013, 09:37:00 PM
  Aus cattle die on export flight     

WEST Australian live exporter Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) is awaiting further information to shed light on the reported deaths of 49 heifers on a flight to Kazakhstan yesterday. 

Kazakh news agencies are reporting that the cattle were travelling on the top deck of a multi-tier load of 321 pedigree beef cattle died when the 747 freighter's air conditioning system malfunctioned.   
  ( photo from the Tengrinews report. 
The Angus and Hereford heifers were part of a Kazakh government breeding program. With Russia and other former Soviet bloc countries, Kazakhstan has been investing in a genetic boost to its ailing livestock sector with imports of quality stock from Australia, Canada and other trusted sources.
Garry Robinson, LSS chief executive, said the air shipment was the fifth in as many weeks to take cattle from Australia to Kazakhstan, but the first to encounter problems. LSS's freight forwarder has made eight live air shipments in the past two months with no casualties, Mr Robinson added.
LSS is waiting on a report from the carrier, US-based Atlas Air, to establish the facts around the incident. The Federal Department of Agriculture is pursuing a separate investigation.
The Department confirmed the exporter had advised it that "the reportable mortality level for cattle during the flight had been exceeded".
Mr Robinson said with livestock being transported around the world by 747 freighters on a daily basis, the deaths were "very puzzling and deeply concerning".
According to Kazakh news service Tengrinews, Almaty Oblast chief veterinary inspector, Omirserik Kydyrbatev, said infringement of animal air transportation rules caused the cattle to suffocate.
KazAgro, an agricultural arm of the Kazakhstan government, said the livestock were loaded into the plane in a bi-level configuration in custom boxes. Those on the lower level were unaffected, but veterinarians said those on the upper level asphyxiated because of natural wastes. Ammonia produced poisonous vapours, coupled with an insufficient supply of oxygen, due to a possible fault in the aircraft’s ventilation system.
Tengrinews said the 321 cattle were not supplied with water or feed, although the flight lasted for 17 hours and made a stop in Singapore for refuelling.
Kazakhstan air-freighted 5092 breeder cattle from Australia between January and August this year, the Australian Live Exporters Council (ALEC) reports.
ALEC chief executive Alison Penfold said reports of casualties during live export were always a "kick in the guts" and of concern to everyone in the trade.
LSS has already dealt with controversy this year, when footage appeared in August of sheep being mishandled while disembarking in Israel from a live export ship operated by the company.
Mr Robinson told the ABC the incident was a blatant breach of protocol that illustrated the difficulty of prosecuting Australia's ESCAS animal welfare system right through the international supply chain.
24 Oct, 2013