Wellard insists sheep shipshape

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Wellard sheep .
Camera IconWellard sheep . Credit: The West Australian

Wellard has defied the wishes of the RSPCA by selling thousands of sheep caught up in an aborted shipment from Fremantle for export to the Middle East.

The Australian Securities Exchange-listed company was forced to unload about 7400 sheep at Fremantle last month after they spent more than 10 days in limbo on one of its vessels that suffered engine problems soon after leaving port.

The unloading pushed the boundaries of Australia’s strict quarantine laws and Wellard said the sheep would be processed at its Beaufort River Meats abattoir near Kojonup.

Wellard said yesterday that about 2600 of the sheep, which have been held at its pre-export quarantine feedlot at Baldivis, would be processed at BRM.

It said the remainder had been sold for export, but declined to reveal the buyer or their final destination.

It is understood the sheep were sold to rival exporter Livestock Shipping Services, that they were loaded on the Ghena at Fremantle at the weekend and are bound for the Middle East.

“It was our intention and our preference to process all of the sheep in WA,” Wellard chief executive Mauro Balzarini said.

“Unfortunately that couldn’t be achieved with the heavier sheep that our own abattoir could not process. The sheep are in excellent condition.”

RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones had called on Wellard to guarantee that the sheep would not be reloaded for export after they were unloaded to allow the Ocean Outback to limp to Vietnam with about 5600 cattle. The shipment was originally bound for Israel.

“We would be extremely concerned if the sheep were to be re-exported,” Dr Jones said. “They have endured enough already.”

WAFarmers president Dale Park and a Department of Agriculture veterinarian were among those who inspected the sheep and approved reloading.

“I inspected the sheep and couldn’t fault them,” Mr Park said.

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