Nepalese temple authorities have announced they will end a centuries-old Hindu tradition of mass animal slaughter that attracts hundreds of thousands of worshippers every 5 years. They stated: “For generations, pilgrims have sacrificed animals to the Goddess Gadhimai, in the hope of a better life. For every life taken, our heart is heavy. The time has come to transform an old tradition. The time has come to replace killing and violence with peaceful worship and celebration. Our concern has been this: how do we convince the people, so desperate for the favour of Gadhimai, that there is another way?”
If there is a way to end a religious tradition that is centuries old, surely there is a way to end a cut-throat economic practice that is less than 50 years old.
Pastoralists havent got enough to supply the boxed meat market and Darwin abattoir AACO is calling for cattle. The company has, for the first time, publicly advertised kill space available for cows of various weight ranges at its Livingstone abattoir for September and October.
Oh yeah and we need a live ex trade?????
Business is booming for one Pilbara cattle station, who says it can't keep up with demand for boxed beef. Mardie Station has had a strategic plan to move away from reliance on the risky LE trade. As of Nov 2014, their only problem as been that they cant get enough cattle. "We'd double what we're doing, if I had the cattle" was the comment from the manager in Nov 2014.
So just what does it take before Australia starts really supplying the boxed meat trade instead of LE?
Seems even live animal export veteran Steve Meerwald is dubious about the supposed China bonanza . He is quoted as saying: "The only figure that is ever quoted is from Federal Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce last year that Australia will be aiming to export more than 2.2 million head of cattle a year and that is just not realistic," Mr Meerwald said. He then goes on to comment "..when push comes to shove, it gets down to they want low-quality cuts and they have to be chilled."
We are always told that the two industries don't compete but at the moment, the Australian meat trade is currently competing very strongly with the live ex trade Yep, they've temporarily stopped putting some of the Northern cattle on boats and are trucking them 1000s of km south instead. One hopes that the Land Transport standards are being followed (i.e. maximum of 48h off water for the period including yarding, loading and transport with a spell of 36 hours) but somehow, we suspect not! Hard to know which is the worst welfare option for the northern cattle but it is a clear cut and dried answer for any southern cattle: absolutely unacceptable to be trucking winter-acclimatised cattle (from a very cold winter), 1000s and 1000s of land km to the tropical north and THEN going on a boat to an uncertain slaughter. Any such trade would make an absolute mockery of the oft-repeated phrase that producers care for the welfare of their animals.
Whilst Australia continues to delude itself that is a leader in animal welfare, it only ranks C on the Animal Protection Index compared to other countries such as New Zealand. Countries such as India also rank C. Yep, we are not as wonderful as we claim.
Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp did respond to this ranking in the Australian Veterinary Journal (1) but the ranking and reasons for ranking have been explained by the WAP in the same journal (2). Of major importance was the fact that in 2013, the Australian Government decided not to coordinate national animal welfare policy, devolved all responsibility for domestic animal welfare to the states and territories, removed funding from AAWS and disbanded it and ended financial support for RAWS and the OIE CC. By dismantling the national framework for animal welfare, the government has sent a strong message worldwide that Australia now is not worthy of even a B ranking, let alone an A. Live export is just part of Australia’s problem…..Australian animal welfare is not up to scratch generally and its time government addressed it. As WAP noted, the establishment of a Commonwealth Independent Office of Animal Welfare would be a positive step forward. So, only real hope for a better ranking, Dr Schipp, is a change in government!
1. Schipp M. Re: The Animal Protection Index. Aust Vet J 2015;93(5)N26
2. West M. Re: The Animal Protection Index. Aust Vet J 2015;93(8):N27
RSPCA claim that pushing live export into a strong export beef market makes no sense. Unfortunately, it makes only too much sense: the Chinese are smart and see the value adding that can be achieved with processing live animals in their own country for meat, Australia not quite so smart.
If the Chinese see value in growing their own live animals for slaughter in their own country, doesnt that tell us something about the $$ that are being lost to Australia when we send them those live animals?
Extreme heat in Iraq has resulted in a 4 day holiday. A quick look at the meteorologists map shows Kuwait similarly affected and guess where the live export ship Maysora is headed after leaving Fremantle? Kuwait. ETA Aug 12th. Temp expected on Aug 12th....around 47 degrees Celsius. Kuwait often a dry heat but to get to Kuwait, the ship has to sail through the Straits of Hormuz and this is what exporters themselves have to say about heat in that area:
"the Straits are notoriously bad for severe heat stress and humidity conditions" (Ferguson et al 2008)
So, the Dept of Ag has obviously signed off on a heat stress risk assessment model to allow a live ex vessel to sail into the highest temperatures on record for the region through an area notorious for heat and humidity. Vulnerable people die in these conditions.....expect vulnerable animals packed like sardines to do likewise...and watch this space....What sort of country are we?
Ferguson D et al. Review of the Livestock Export Heat Stress Risk Assessment Model (Hotstuff). MLA. Dec 2008