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. The National Codes of Practice for transport set out for the trucking of animals within Australia and outline the stocking densities, and 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 Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) virtually mirror the Codes of Practice and similarly, there is no enforcement in any part of the live export chain.
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 regulations 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 are supposed to remain in an export accredited feedlot for a minimum of 4 days (cattle up to 30 days and goats 10 days) in order to accustom the animals to pulverised pellets. Often 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 occurrence 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. )
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
The Industry Self-Regulates:
The sheep are then loaded whilst at the feedlot and trucked to the wharf. There is usually no oversight by state regulators and given there has been no RSPCA WA inspection of the Port of Fremantle for at least 5 years and no State Inspectors have been at the port since July 2009, there is every reason to believe the loading of trucks at the feedlot is without scrutiny.
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 are incidents whereby the heads and legs are 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. There is also a great number of sheep transported to the port with sharp horns, shearing cuts, long wool 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 the animals are inspected for compliance with the export criteria and fitness for travel, they are not. AQIS do visit the loading of a ship intermittently, 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 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. ASEL covers these requirements.
Depending on the ship capacity the loading of the sheep may take anywhere between 1 and 3 days. Some ships have up to 8 decks, with 2 pen levels per deck.
Some ships are 'closed' which have been known to subject the animals to a lack of ventilation which leads to fatally high ammonia levels and the high humidity causes heat stress
Closed vessels such as the Al Messilah pictured above rely 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.
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.
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.
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'. Thousands of sheep die per year 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. Bader Report, Common Health Problems.
This photo is courtesy the website of ex-Federal Senator Andrew Bartlett. (Australian Democrats.) It was taken aboard the Cormo Express during the well publicised major 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.
No animal welfare advocates have been permitted to inspect the conditions on board and enroute therefore there is very little if any genuine independent assessment of the levels of care given to the animals. All we have is the word of the vet employed by the exporter.
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
There is very little information supplied by the industry as to goat exports and relevant mortality rates.
Wild goats with uncut long horns on a truck as it approaches the Port of Fremantle for export. 2006
(In 1998 The 'Anomis' arrived in Malaysia from Geraldton West Australia 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.)
Offloading the animals at ports of destination:
This Australian calf died soon after arrival in Aqaba Jordan
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 are thrown about like sacks of rice. Most animals including 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.
These Australian cattle are expected to jump from the truck onto the ground. Jumping is not ‘natural’ behaviour for cattle.
Beating Australian sheep to get them to move
None of the receiving 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 and Indonesia and Philippines bleed to death whilst fully conscious.
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.
During the footage taken in Indonesia by Animals Australiain early 2001, cattle were slashed across their throat up to 33 times by incompetent untrained butchers. The suffering endured by the cattle was immeasurable.
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’s investigations in the Middle Eastand Indonesia.
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.
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. Challenges were made during 2010 with a demand by animal advocates that an investigation be undertaken to establish the time taken for the animals to die and the level of suffering endured. Permits were granted permitting several sheep and slaughter facilities in both South Australia and Victoria to kill without pre stunning.
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
There are practices undertaken in abattoirs in Egypt and Indonesia 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
The 2011 expose by 4 Corners and Animals Australia has again proven that nothing has changed despite the money MLA claims to have poured into these countries.
Source AAP article, Amieu website.
Australia has sent 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 and Turkey
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, Turkey and USA.
Breeding cattle: Israel , Kuwait , Indonesia , Japan , Malaysia , India , Philippines , Singapore , Hong Kong , New Zealand , Brunei , New Caledonia , USA , China and Mexico.