Ahead of a much-trailed explosive exposé into the Australian livestock trades due to air on terrestrial television this Sunday (see video below) the nation’s federal agriculture minister David Littleproud has belatedly launched an investigation into the deaths of thousands of sheep during an August 2017 transit to the Middle East, after being supplied with footage of decaying sheep by NGO Animals Australia.
Around 2,400 animals succumbed to heat stress while travelling from Perth to three nations in the Middle East eight months ago, the government said today.
Littleproud said what occurred was just “total bullshit” and “disgusting” and has asked for the unnamed shipping company’s practices on the export to be thoroughly examined.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council said the footage is “highly distressing”.
“These deaths and the conditions in which they occurred are plainly unacceptable,” chief executive Simon Westaway said.
Splash’s livestock expert Dr Lynn Simpson has described incidents of heat stress on livestock voyages she has been on in the past. In an article from August 2016 she described how many sheep died on one voyage.
“Brain damage in humans is a concern if the body temp gets above 41 degrees Celsius,” Simpson wrote. “I was sure these animals would never recover once collapsed, and I feared the survivors would die slowly within a week from kidney failure. Kill, kill kill. The next sheep I cut I also used the deck thermometer to measure his core body temperature. I was blown away to find it was 47 degrees Celsius. About the same temperature of the average household hot water system. Their fat was melted and like a translucent jelly. They were cooking from the inside.”
Splash carried news of another heat stress incident in July 2016 which saw as many as 3,000 animals die in transit.
Simpson has made repeated calls to ban Australian livestock exports to and through the Middle Eastern region during the northern summer season.