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.