WA livestock in ship deaths

Rueben HaleCountryman

West Australian cattle and sheep have perished onboard a Livestock Shipping Services vessel in Israel.

Social media reported about 200 sheep and cattle died, but figures from veterinarians and stockmen put the actual numbers at about 47, which accounted for about 0.5 per cent of all cattle on board and 0.6 per cent of all sheep onboard.

The livestock export vessel Maysora departed Fremantle on April 21, loaded with a consignment of cattle and sheep.

The vessel discharged at the Israeli port of Eliat over the period of May 10-12.

An ALEC spokesman said during the voyage there were no reported health or welfare concerns arising from the journey from Fremantle to Israel.

He said animal comfort was provided with sawdust bedding for animals on voyages of more than 10 days, including those to the Middle East.

He said cattle decks are generally washed every three to four days and fresh sawdust placed in pens when cleaned.

“During transit through the Red Sea between the gulfs of Aden and Aqaba, the ability to washout the pens is limited for environmental reasons,” he said.

“Accordingly, extra sawdust is placed in pens to help manage waste. Sawdust and manure can make a sticky combination which can adhere to some cattle.

“Despite the dirty condition of the cattle photographed, the veterinarian on-board reported that the cattle arrived in good health and sound body condition.”

The spokesman also said images of dead cattle being thrown overboard during transit were false.

“Online discussions over the weekend showed an image that suggested these were Australian cattle, but analysis of the photos shows straw on the floor instead of sawdust, indicating that the vessel in question was not a vessel transporting Australian livestock,” he said.

“There are international rules pertaining to the disposal of deceased livestock at sea and Australian Maritime Safety Authority accredited vessels carrying Australian livestock must comply with these rules.”

The spokesman said concerns about the welfare of exported livestock can be raised directly with ALEC.

Meanwhile Animals Australia spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said the organisation was unhappy about the treatment of cattle on arrival in Israel.

“The photos indicate very real welfare concerns, cattle showing symptoms of pneumonia and Bovine Respiratory Disease and severe eye infections and one of the photographs shows a Murray Grey with a nose ring, a likely ex-show bull. We’d be very surprised if the owner wasn’t distressed that this animal ended up on a live export ship

“We will be asking the Department to undertake a full investigation regarding this shipment.”

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