Ships of shame

21 August 2018

The suffering that sheep and cattle endure during their voyage overseas makes live animal export truly unacceptable.

The conditions on board ships are so harsh that the animals suffer severe stress, illness and injury, and many die before they reach port.

Sheep, in particular, suffer terribly. With three sheep confined to one square metre of space, they have to bear the constant noise, vibration and motion of the ship, high levels of ammonia from their own urine, high temperatures and extreme humidity. Some of them even starve, because they don’t recognise that the pellet food provided is food at all.

A voyage to the Middle East, where almost all of our sheep are exported, can subject the animals to these conditions for up to 35 days. And, at the end of their journey, the exhausted animals are often handled roughly, and many will be slaughtered while fully conscious.

In 2013, almost 1.9 million live sheep were exported from Australia by sea and more than 14,000 died during the voyage. In the same year, 830 cattle died during transportation out of a total of 776,000 exported.

And it’s not only the animals that suffer. Thousands of jobs have been lost in the Australian meat processing industry because of livestock shortages, worsened by live export.

But there is a solution, and together we can bring an end to the cruel live animal export trade.

The conditions on board ships are so harsh that the animals suffer severe stress, illness and injury, and many die before they reach port.