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“Keep the Sheep” – Australian Livestock Industry fleeced

– Artificially generated image
Abbie Tiller

World’s best practises, World’s biggest sheep exporter – Australian Government shuts down the country’s live sheep export trade

Australia’s livestock industry is fighting for a lifeline after an announcement to ban live sheep exports by sea was made last month.
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt, announced the legislation to outlaw the trade from May 2028.
In a press release on May 11, the Senator said the export industry had been in decline for many years and that the government was taking these measures to protect the welfare of Australian sheep.
A $107 million Federal transition support package will be put in place to support the phase out of live sheep exports, which contributes around $80 million to the country’s economy each year.
After spending years upgrading conditions for live animal export, the news has sent waves of anger and uncertainty throughout the livestock industry, particularly in Western Australia, which accounts for 85 per cent of live sheep exports. Victoria and South Australia make up the remainder of the country’s live sheep exports.
In response to the announcement, passionate sheep industry advocates have vowed to make sure their message is heard loud and clear. A “Keep the Sheep” campaign has already collected more than 35,000 signatures opposing the ban, and last week one of Australia’s biggest ever agricultural protests took place on the streets of Perth, with a convoy of 1700 noisy trucks and 3000 people spreading the “Keep the Sheep” message.
Country sporting clubs across WA have also joined the movement, with many taking a moment before last weekend’s games to declare their support for the country’s farmers and to get behind the “Keep the Sheep” movement.
The new ruling will have a flow on affect on rural Australia and according to Tony Seabrook, President of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia, the ban on live sheep exports “will kill some country towns”.

“99.9% of animals in excellent health on arrival”

“Australia is the best in the world in this growing live export trade,” he told Sky News Australia. “We set the standard everywhere. This trade has turned itself inside out. We are the exemplar. We are so good at what we do, that we can load sheep on a ship that have already been to the Gulf and back again once, and take them to the south of South Africa, up the Atlantic Ocean, through the Mediterranean to Israel, (and lose) 18 sheep out of 14,000. It’s extraordinary.”

Claims made by animal welfare groups are vastly different.

According to World Animal Protection – “Every year this barbaric trade continues, hundreds of thousands of Australian sheep will suffer unnecessarily during live export because of the unbearable conditions on board, and many die in transit. The extreme stress, illness and injury the animals endure can go on for journeys of up to 35 days. Many of those that survive the journey are handled roughly at their destination, killed while fully conscious and many suffer outright brutality.”

Livestock Collective Managing Director and Veterinarian, Holly Ludeman, backed up Tony Seabrook’s statement, saying Australia had made a huge impact on improving animal welfare standards right around the world.

Ludeman said Australia’s world’s best practises meant 99.9 per cent of animals were getting off at the other end of their journey in excellent health. She said significant improvements over recent years included not exporting live animals at certain times of the year when heat stress was an issue, increased space and improved ventilation systems, and vet’s and trained stock handlers on board at all times.

While Senator Murray Watt argues that processing sheep here in Australia will add value locally, support increased farm gate returns and create local jobs, the Middle Eastern market has a strong preference for live imports due to high fodder, water and meat subsidies provided by a number of Middle Eastern governments, the live sale practices in local markets and the demand for the animals to be slaughtered according to Halal practices.

For more information on the Keep the Sheep movement click here.


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