Ship vet bags ‘extreme’ live export test

Zach RelphCountryman
Haydn Roeger says the recommended standards are too drastic.
Camera IconHaydn Roeger says the recommended standards are too drastic. Credit: Ross Swanborough

The man who once oversaw the Department of Agriculture’s animal welfare standards aboard livestock carriers says a proposed 28C wet bulb temperature limit for exporters is “extreme” action.

Former Department of Agriculture principal veterinary officer Haydn Roeger has rubbished calls for 28C to be the wet bulb maximum on live sheep vessels travelling to the Middle East.

The proposal is the cornerstone of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ draft report into heat-stress risk assessment for animal welfare on Australia’s livestock ships.

Dr Roeger, who now works as an Australian Accredited Vet on Australian voyages after entering live export regulation about 40 years ago, said the recommended standards were too drastic.

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“I think the 28C wet bulb is extreme,” he said.

“From my view, I’ve had plenty of voyages when the wet bulb has gone over 28C and they’ve been very successful voyages.”

The animal welfare expert identified successful journeys he had taken on livestock vessels carrying sheep this year where the wet bulb temperature had reached up to 34C.

Dr Roeger, a sheep producer at Boyup Brook with a flock of about 700 head, said a 28C wet bulb limit would be unattainable for exporters in most conditions.

“It is a shame that it has come to this,” he said.

“The 28C, not on my watch, I won’t gel with that. Heat-risk can be managed in different situations and evasive action can be taken on a ship — good management and good planning is needed.”


  • What is the draft report proposing? For live sheep voyages’ heat-stress framework to focus on animal welfare and move away from the current model focusing on mortality. A wet bulb temperature maximum of 28C is recommended to be the industry standard for assessing heat risk.
  • What is wet bulb temperature? It is a measure dependent on dry bulb temperature and humidity to provide a temperature measure, adjusted for the cooling effect of evaporation and air movement.
  • When is the northern hemisphere summer? It is currently defined from June to August. However, the draft report recommends the northern summer be defined from May to October.
  • Impact on exports: The report suggests a “cessation of trade” during its re-defined northern summer period from May to October. It notes the recommended changes could cause live sheep exports to decline on voyages outside proposed northern summer months.

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