Live exporters hit again

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

The live export industry is reeling from a double body blow after investigators found the treatment of sheep exported to Kuwait breached international animal welfare standards and Animals Australia claimed more footage had emerged of cattle being mistreated in Egypt.

The finding is a bitter blow to WA farmers as 268,896 sheep were sent from Fremantle to Kuwait in the period assessed by Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry after a complaint by Animals Australia.

There was one other shipment of 38,000 sheep from Port Adelaide in the period.

The DAFF investigation found Australian sheep were sold and slaughtered in Kuwait in August last year outside an approved supply chain.

It cited seven breaches under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, including sheep not being properly restrained for slaughter and having their throats cut with a knife which was too blunt.

Animals Australia said the finding was just the start, with the outcome of a follow-up complaint about sheep being sold at the non-ESCAS approved Al Rai livestock market still pending.

"The fact that in January, after additional conditions were imposed on exporters, Animals Australia again found Australian sheep in this notorious market, reveals DAFF must impose tough sanctions if exporters are to take their regulatory responsibility seriously," Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White said.

"DAFF investigators have stated the ability to individually identify sheep would help strengthen traceability and we support moves to make this a requirement under ESCAS."

Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Alison Penfold said the council would consider the animal welfare and cost implications of moving to individual identification.

"Our challenge here is the livestock were not in an approved slaughter facility and so the people who undertook the slaughter had not received our training," she said.

Ms Penfold said Australian exporters involved in the investigation - Emmanuel Exports, International Livestock Export and EMS Rural Exports - had introduced measures to contain poaching of sheep from the approved supply chain.

Animals Australia has also handed over to DAFF more footage of cattle being mistreated at an Egyptian abattoir already under investigation. Animals Australia said it had received the footage in the past two days.

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