China live export claims garner criticism

Veterinary groups have criticised the federal government’s plans to commence live cattle exports to China.

Vets Against Live Export (VALE) said the journey by sea to China is about 18 days, equivalent to the journey to the Middle East, a distance they deem unacceptable.

The organisation is also concerned about animal protection laws in China, and said Australian animals are likely to be handled and slaughtered in a fashion that would be unacceptable at home.

VALE believe animal welfare is best served when animals are slaughtered as close as possible to the point of production.

“The history of what has happened to Australian cattle exported live tells us that the outcomes are not likely to be acceptable,” VALE spokesperson Sue Foster said.

“The second important consequence is the deleterious effect this will have on the Australian meat processing industry.” Continue reading China live export claims garner criticism

Grandin’s advice for Australian live export industry

AVA Annual Conference, 28 May 2013,  Cairns Convention Centre.Livestock slaughter expert Temple Grandin has recommended abattoirs install video surveillance to reduce cruelty.

Grandin was in Cairns recently to address the AVA conference, and she told Bush Telegraph that Australia should have more power to monitor slaughter facilities abroad when engaged in live exports.

She said companies such as Cargill Incorporated and JBS have video in U.S. plants where footage can be accessed on the internet at any time.

Live export conditions remain topical, and ships to Egypt were recently suspended following the release of brutal slaughter footage by animal welfare activists.

AQIS-accredited veterinary surgeon Lloyd Reeve-Johnson said Grandin’s suggestion of web-cam based monitoring becomes realistic if one considers minimal public trust in the current system and its “repeated failures” to prevent major welfare issues.

“The initial reaction of many in the industry may be that her suggestion is unworkable or an unnecessary expense,” he said.

“If a sceptical public is ever to be convinced that live animal export is necessary for economic of other reasons, measures beyond the ordinary such as constant web-cam surveillance with independent expert oversight could benefit not only the welfare of millions of animals, but the trade itself.”

Reeve-Johnson said the same idea could be applied to shipboard conditions with intermittent satellite feeds of video footage and displays monitoring ammonia, temperatures, humidity and other variables to counter potential human selectivity in placement of sensors or reporting.

He added that the footage would “only supplement” the introduction of independent shipboard veterinary oversight who are not directly employed by exporters. Continue reading Grandin’s advice for Australian live export industry

Live export vessel veterinarian reports injuries, standards breaches

tightly stockedThe recent mistreatment of Australian animals overseas has been the source of much consternation in recent months, deflecting attention from conditions on live export ships.

A veterinarian who has spent 13 years working on live export voyages has made a submission to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) review in to Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL), which alleges that some in the industry are more concerned with profits than animal welfare.

Lynn Simpson, who has been an accredited on-board veterinarian for 57 live export voyages, as well as having peripheral feedlot, loading and transportation experience, described the suffering of animals resulting from exporters allegedly ignoring the law.

“It should be appreciated that these voyages are not all short and clean as depicted by industry and their public relations machine,” she said. Continue reading Live export vessel veterinarian reports injuries, standards breaches

Cruelty footage fires further VALE-DAAF stoush

Cattle bodies in a slaughterhouse.

Image: Thomas Bjørkan

The war of words between Vets Against Live Export (VALE) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAAF) has intensified after the December broadcast of footage showing cattle being cruelly treated by an Israeli abattoir on the ABC’s 7.30 Report.

An investigation by an Israeli journalist revealed that animals at the Bakar Tnuva abattoir were subjected to cruel applications of electric goads to the head, rectum and genitals.

Additional footage showed the dragging of a cow across a concrete floor by its forelimb on a forklift, the repeated punching of a cow in a crush, poor sheep handling and unstunned slaughter.

VALE veterinary behavioural consultant, Kate Lindsey, analysed the footage and said the appearance and behaviour of the cattle is consistent with severe physical and psychological stress.

A consistent finding in the footage was that the downer cows were alone,” Lindsey said.

Cattle are a prey species that form cohesive groups. Being on their own is highly stressful for most cattle. Continue reading Cruelty footage fires further VALE-DAAF stoush