AN industry proposal for less overcrowding on sheep ships will do little to reduce animal deaths warns vet Sue Foster.
In the wake of 2400 sheep dying on board one of Emanuel Export’s ships last year, the company has said it will reduce sheep numbers on ships travelling to the Middle East by 17.5 per cent during the northern summer.
But Dr Foster from Vets against Live Export says this will only prevent a few deaths and sheep will continue to suffer unnecessarily.
She pointed to Murdoch University studies which showed that sheep, even in a controlled environment with plenty of space, food, water and ventilation, had a narrow range of temperatures before experiencing stress.
“Possibly the majority of those voyages will go into a climate zone which is above their heat stress threshold,” Dr Foster says.
She added that Emanuel’s new “generous space allocation” was redundant because once the threshold was exceeded, it didn’t matter whether there was one sheep or 60,000 on the ship; they’d suffer heat stress regardless.
Dr Colin Scrivener was Emanuel’s vet on the Al Messilah, which was in Fremantle loading 10 floors of sheep over the weekend. Dr Scrivener told the ABC; “heat stress is a very minimal problem”.
“There’d always be a big advantage in air-conditioning, but the cost benefit is low when it’s not a big problem,” he said, claiming that the recent Animals Australia footage from Emanuel’s Awassi Express wasn’t an accurate picture of the industry.
Agricultural minister Alannah MacTiernan says data collected between 2007-2016 shows a spike in deaths on Middle East-bound vessels in July and August.
“On welfare grounds there is only one option and that is that the trade must be stopped in the Middle Eastern summer.
It is just simply and physiologically incompatible with animal welfare,” Dr Foster told the Herald.
by ALICE ANGELONI