What Temple Grandin really said
One could be excused for thinking that Temple Grandin has given the entire Australian live export industry the thumbs up. If one reads past the headline this is clearly not the case.
Temple Grandin was taken around 2 feedlots and 2 abattoirs in Indonesia and 2 cattle stations in Australia. Both the abattoirs used pre-slaughter stunning but this is not mandatory for all cattle exported from Australia. Her comments were that non-stun slaughter may be humane but far greater sensitivity in handling was required. There is no evidence that this is in fact the case for the unfortunate animals which suffer this fate either in Indonesia or elsewhere. Perhaps at this point we should recall that without the exposure of the sadistic cruelty endemic in Indonesian abattoirs by Animals Australia and Four Corners in 2011 there would STILL be no pre-slaughter stunning in Indonesia ("an aspirational goal" according to Caple et al in the MLA 2010 report). Everyone was in fact quite happy with the status quo until the future of their sordid industry was under threat.
Temple mentioned heat stress as a welfare issue but said she saw no evidence in her inspections. That comes us no surprise as the problem is unlikely to be encountered in Bos indicus cattle in a feedlot in Indonesia. If she had been taken on a voyage from a Southern Australian port to the Middle East in August with a boatload of Bos taurus, she might have seen something a little more confronting. Of course the industry will never allow independent observers on their high risk voyages or destinations.
Temple herself acknowledged that she was only going to see good things as she was a guest of the industry. Even so she was clearly not happy with concrete feedlots and and deep muck in the pens. So even the best feedlots in Indonesia are somewhat less than perfect. Wouldn't want to know what the worst ones are like.....
Despite the tiny number and hopelessly biased sample of her inspections the conclusion is duly made that Temple Grandin thinks welfare in the totality of live export is is OK. Breathtaking.
Those of us at VALE live in hope that one day the phone will ring and the caller will be Mr Balzarini offering us a free trip to Turkey from Portland in July with a few thousand fat hairy Herefords.
High risk investment anyone?
The West Australian-based Wellard Limited has lodged a prospectus with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission based on an initial public offering. Investors have been offered 215 million Wellard shares, which represents 54 per cent of the company capital.
To those would-be investors, just remember Keniry.....the live export trade is uniquely and inherently risky. Even if ethics were not a concern, we wouldnt be putting our life savings into this one......
Amazing. A fire burns for 9 days in a live export ship but in no time it is off to sea again. The Awassi Express loaded feed in Fremantle for 24h between 21st and 22nd October 2015. Presumably, it couldn't carry enough feed with the damaged silo (or wasnt allowed to) to do the long haul from Portland to wherever without this stop.
Guess the trip from Portland would have blown out a few toxic fumes and allowed a bit of a paint job before it got to Freo. Lets keep our fingers crossed that AMSA has assessed this ship and its potential fire risk correctly because as we know from the Farid Fares and Uniceb, if a ship burns out at sea, there is only one likely outcome….
It should come as no surprise that animal welfare is now regarded as unnecessary red tape in the live export industry.
Since “A Bloody Business”, the industry has frequently referred to needing a 'social licence' for live export ie a requirement that the public be assured that animal welfare standards are in place and being policed. ESCAS and all manner of other window-dressing exercises were deemed to be part of this self-defined and self-promoted licence.
But….roll on… Barnaby Joyce and the farmers are firmly back in charge of animal ‘welfare’. There is obviously far too much “social licence” and as it might cost the farmer a dollar, it is now red tape. Unfortunately, progress in animal welfare has ceased and the pressure is for more on roll-backs of welfare provisions in all aspects of farming, not just live export. What the farmers want, the farmers get. Subsidies, special tax regimes, repeated drought assistance in hopelessly marginal areas, altered definitions of “free range” for egg production…you name it, you got it. Barnaby just can't get enough of the love. The Nationals have total say in this area of policy and no Liberal leader is ever going to be able change this even if he or she gave a damn which they usually don't.
What is really depressing is that the media is so silent on this subject. No one it seems has the integrity, the analytical ability, the will or the courage to ever ask the right questions of Barnaby about any of the nonsense he spouts.
Abattoirs close early as not enough cattle.
Teys Australia will shut down its Biloela plant in central Queensland for seven weeks from the end of this month, rather the its normal four weeks, and JBS will shut down its Townsville plant early, from the end of November.
Apparently, it is all due to the Qld drought….but with record numbers of cattle being exported, could it be that our LE trade is at least partially responsible for this economic hardship for abattoir workers? Cant see any front page Australian heartache stories there as abattoir workers are not farmers so it really doesn't count!
Fires on ships have dogged the LE trade: Farid Fares (40,605 sheep burnt;1980), Uniceb (67,488 sheep burnt; 1996), Maysora (73000 sheep unharmed; 2011) and Ocean Drover (in port no stock onboard; 2014) just to name a few. And they are just the fires that are known - not all are reported it seems.
And now another one to add to the list: Awassi Express (reportedly not loaded) in Portland. Only took 9 days with 50 or so firefighters on hand at a time to put it out in port. The difficulties listed included confined spaces, working at heights and the dangerous activities to empty the fuel out of the silo, which includes the production of both combustible gases and gases that would asphyxiate people working around it (not to mention stock if any had been on board). Hey...lucky it wasnt out at a sea with a few Aussie animals on board.
As Keniry (2004) noted, "live export is is uniquely and inherently risky."
Maritime footage of Holstein Express!
And....perhaps imagine a small loaded vessel, eg one of the "Express" vessels in this: http://gcaptain.com/incredible-footage-heavy-weather-tow-of-russian-aircraft-carrier-in-bay-of-biscay/#.VkPBNZGTnwI
Oh yes, seas like this definitely occur in Great Australian Bight (see Voyage 52), Indian Ocean etc.
LE aint no luxury cruise!
A new study in the Aust Vet J by Moore SJ et al analysing sea voyages between 1995-2012 provides much useful data. However, amongst a few errors including noting that LE to Turkey only began in 2012 (despite High Mortality Voyage 39 to Turkey in 2011), it has one serious fundamental flaw…..excluding the outliers. It is reasonable to exclude outliers for statistical analysis but it is not reasonable to then ignore the outliers as a potential focus of enquiry eg as a separate data set.
The voyages of the Charolais Express 1998 (inadequate ventilation and heavy weather), Kalymnian Express 1999 (cyclone), Temburong 1999 (power loss and ventilation failure) and the MV Becrux 2002 (ventilation) were all disasters due to weather or ventilation and these are inherent risks of sea transport, thus should have been discussed as serious and legitimate risk factors. That high mortality voyages still occur due to these same factors eg bad weather in Voyages 45 (2013), 50 (2014) and 52 (2014) and ventilation issues in Report 44 (2013) indicate that ignoring this data set is poor science.
Oh yes and for all those ships built after 2004 with improved design….shame we still have the Bader III (1978), Al Messilah (1980), Maysora (1989) and Al Shuwaikh (1986) as some of our most regular vessels.
The study was funded by MLA/Livecorp.