Sentient sends a Letter about Live Export to Producers

August 19, 2013

“We would like to introduce ourselves as the Executive members of Sentient, The Veterinary Institute for Animal Ethics. Sentient is an independent, non-for-profit, veterinary-driven organisation. Our aim is to use scientific knowledge to assist governments, industry and the public to adhere to the highest possible standards of animal welfare. One of the ways we do this is by raising awareness of welfare issues and advocating for solutions that allow the needs of animals to be appropriately and humanely met within the various enterprises involving their use.


It is well known that the live animal export trade presents multiple areas of concern regarding animal welfare. We are also learning of the risks posed to Australian farmers. There is increasing evidence that this trade will be unsustainable in the long term due to economic forces and changing agendas in importing countries. For these reasons, Sentient supports a phasing out of the trade, with full government assistance for producers to shift towards a market of chilled and frozen meat exports. This would involve the establishment of local abattoirs where animals are humanely slaughtered after stunning, according to Australian standards. 


The reason for this letter is to raise your awareness of the use and implications of ‘full inversion slaughter boxes’ at live export destinations such as Egypt and Israel. In summary, these boxes involve animals being tipped 180 degrees and having their throats cut whilst fully conscious, immobilised, suspended upside down and in a state of terror. The position of their internal organs such as the rumen cause cattle to experience even greater distress from inversion, and they can potentially end up inhaling blood and digested food. 


It is incomprehensible to us that the government has approved the use of these boxes under Australia’s live export regulations. The international OIE standards are disturbingly much lower than our own standards, and do not provide any protection in this instance. As veterinarians, we feel a duty to ensure that people in the community are aware of the cruelty involved in this practice.


We appeal to you, as producers who have bred and raised cattle according to the high standards expected in Australia, to please join with us in calling on the government to ban the use of full inversion boxes in the live export trade.


With regards,


The Sentient Executive


Dr Katherine van Ekert Onay, President

Dr Adele Lloyd, Vice President

Dr Rosemary Elliott, Secretary

Mr Matthew Lloyd, Public Officer“ 

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