Gory TV exposé prompts Australian authorities to act on livestock exports

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.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Absolutely horrible footage . This treatment of animals must be stopped with no more harmed by such barbaric treatment. These people and politicians responsible should hang their heads in shame, and never let this happen again. The export of live animals must be stopped. I will not support any political party that supports this barbaric treatment.

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