Animal Diseases


The industry is fully aware and acknowledges in the on board veterinarian handbook that there will be animal suffering and mortalities. The industry knows that the animals will suffer and more than likely die, they acknowledge this fact, yet continue to export live because it is a money making venture.

Animal welfare plays no active part in this trade, it is an after thought because animal welfare groups have been outraged at the realities of the suffering and deaths of thousands and thousands of animals and so have FORCED the industry to 'tidy up their act'!  The industry would have you believe that there is no suffering, few deaths and that the surviving animals live 'first class' all the way! Truth is the animals suffer from the day they are transported from the farm gate and their suffering does not stop until they are dead either from disease etc on board, from being very cruelly treated at destination, or from bleeding to death after having their throat slit.

The industry goes to great lengths to avoid any focus on the suffering of the animals, and tries to reduce the sheer numbers of animals that have died to mere mortality rates. This effectively removes any humanity and the animals become a number. It should be remembered that there are allegations of falsifying paperwork to deliberately reduce mortality number and so we have serious doubts as to the accuracy of the 'official' mortality rates. We understand that the true mortality rates are much higher than the industry want the public to believe.

Our source who was heavily involved in the trade, stated that on a trip to Saudi Arabia, conditions were so bad for the animals, that when he tried to pick up the sheep, there was a burning sensation on his hands. The sheep were "COOKING FROM THE INSIDE"!

The death knoll is sounding for this horrendous trade. The truth is out and the public are not only aghast at the cruelty involved but demand the trade be stopped to all countries.

It is our mission to put the truth the industry does not want you to see, out in the public arena.

The information below is from the handbook produced in June 2001.

Saudi Livestock Export Program





"The Average mortality rate for sheep exported to Saudi Arabia is 0.4%, with a range for individual shipments of 0.1 – 1.0%. This is the mortality rate from loading in Australia to arrival at the destination port in Saudi Arabia . The mortality rate is slightly higher for goats. Although no two voyages are the same, the daily mortality rate generally starts slow and increases late in the voyage.

Inanition and salmonellosis are the two main causes of sheep and goat deaths at sea. These two syndromes account for about 75% of all ship board mortalities.

Inanition: Affected sheep are 'shy feeders' that do no adjust to eating shipboard pellets. Some waste away and are obviously emaciated, but most stock look clinically normal despite days of not eating and are difficult to diagnose before they die. After a few days of not eating, disruption to the rumen flora becomes irretrievable. There is no effective treatment.

Non-competitive sheep: These are sheep that will eat pellets but are reluctant to push forward when feed is available and as a result get little to eat. They tend not to die at sea, but steadily loose weight during the voyage to be discharged as poor sheep needing emergency slaughter.

Salmonellosis: Sheep with this condition stop eating and become pyrexic, dull and lethargic. They develop acute gastroenteritis with a scour that may contain strands of mucosa and blood, but is often just a thin watery liquid. Death occurs within hours of clinical signs developing. Treatment of clinical cases requires intensive fluid therapy, which is not practical on a large scale and has a low success rate anyway.

Pinkeye: This problem occurs in every shipment. It is particularly a problem where sheep or goats have been held in a feedlot for an extended period prior to export, as feedlot conditions are very conducive to pinkeye spread.

Scabby Mouth: With many young sheep mixed together, closely confined and fed coarse pellets in troughs, conditions are ideal for scabby mouth spread during live export, both in the export feedlot and at sea. During the voyage, any sheep with scabby mouth should be put in designated pens where they can be easily observed. As there is no effective treatment for scabby mouth, the disease should be allowed to simply runs it's course. The fate of any sheep or goats with visible scabby mouth lesions at the end of the voyage can be decided the day before reaching port. (see photo)

Pneumonia: Mainly seen in lambs, uncommon in hoggets and rare as a cause of death in older sheep.

Hyperthermia: There is heat stress on all voyages, with sheep panting in hot weather . However, hyperthermia deaths only occur in extreme conditions, if the temperature in the stock house exceeds 40°C with a humidity of more than 90%. Such conditions are a crisis, as large numbers of sheep and goats can die within hours. Affected animals pant rapidly as they try to blow off body heat. Elevated rectal temperatures (43°C) are soon fol lowe d by collapse and death. If there are portable fans on board, they should be set up to ventilate animals in greatest risk – rams, heavy wethers and sheep in pens with restricted ventilation.

Smothering: may occur if there is a disruption to feeding with intense competition at the feed trough when feed becomes available again. If there is disruption to feeding, foe example following mechanical breakdown of the feeding system, sheep should be fed out pen at a time with as many people as possible on hand to prevent a pile up and smothering.

Foot abscess: A few cases of foot abscess can be expected during the voyage.

Coccidiosis: can be a problem in goats. If scouring in goats is a problem, blanket water treatment with an oral sulphadimidine preparation.

Trauma: Expect cases of trauma, sheep or goats with a broken leg should be humanely destroyed. Lacerations or other soft tissue injuries may be amenable to treatment.

Miscellaneous other diseases: Also expect a few other miscellaneous such as urolithiasis, pizzle rot, lupinosis, pyrrolizidine, alkaloid poisoning, pulpy kidney, white muscle disease, polio and the like.

Lamb with Scabby Mouth disease
Lamb with "Scabby Mouth" disease

close-up of "Scabby Mouth" disease 
close-up of "Scabby Mouth" disease