VALE is impressed that Minister Littleproud has initiated such a prompt veterinary review into live export of Australian livestock from an Australian winter to the Middle Eastern summer.
The review is reportedly being undertaken by Dr Mike McCarthy, a veterinarian with numerous publications on the live export trade eg Pilot Monitoring of Shipboard Environmental Conditions and Animal Performance. This pilot study recommended a thorough collection of information on all livestock voyages...that was 2005 ....it never happened.
We believe that Dr Mike McCarthy is well placed to do the review having an intimate knowledge of the industry and the research that has been performed on heat stress. However, we do have concerns about his independence given that he has been a career live export veterinarian: shipboard veterinarian and industry-funded research. It is notable that the pilot study recommended a heat stress panting score that only identified heat stress in cattle as occurring at a much higher respiratory rates than the world-accepted (and Australian feedlot industry published) panting scores - acknowledged in the document.
It is easy to disappear to heat stress on routine voyages if you change the definitions!! This was 2005 and the world has moved on....and no doubt Mike McCarthy would now use all the later scientific information available on heat stress to assess the current situation (rather than relying on live ex industry participants who didnt believe a cow was panting till its respiratory rate exceeded 80 breaths per minute (<40 is normal).
VALE has offered Minister Littleproud help with the analysis. Our review paper on heat stress (why re-invent the wheel?) was actually published in a peer-reviewed, high citation index veterinary journal!