LiveCorp and the LEP are strongly committed to undertaking research and providing services to support the industry to continuously improve the health and welfare of Australian livestock in the live export supply chains. LiveCorp anticipates over 40% of our total budget will be invested in animal welfare programs.
Australia is a world leader in welfare practices related to livestock exports (MLA) and no other livestock exporting country has the same commitment to improving animal welfare throughout the livestock export supply chain. Of the 109 countries exporting livestock globally Australia is the only country in the world that invests in animal welfare beyond its borders.
An exporter under the Australian Government regulatory framework is responsible for the health and welfare of Australian livestock and must comply with the stringent requirements of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) and the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS).
Every year LiveCorp and the LEP invest significant amounts of money, time and energy in researching improvements in animal welfare, as well as providing animal welfare programs and support services within importing countries to train and educate livestock handlers, stockpersons and veterinarians in best‑practice animal health and welfare procedures.
Animal handling training and education is a significant undertaking of the industry and these programs are providing local workers with the skills to enable them to appropriately manage and improve animal welfare. Through the Research, Development & Extension (RD& E) program, materials including Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), work instructions and support materials have been developed for each market and delivered to each supply chain.
The animal welfare training that that has been delivered in-market up until December 2014 by LiveCorp and the LEP is outlined in the picture below.
LiveCorp and the LEP are committed to continuous improvements within the live export industry in animal welfare outcomes and reducing mortality rates within the industry.
The introduction of ESCAS has delivered generational changes in animal welfare in many overseas countries. For example, it is estimated that approximately 85% of Australian cattle currently exported to Indonesia are stunned prior to slaughter, whereas pre-ESCAS the number was around 15 per cent. It has only been through the commitment and investment of Australia’s exporters, importers and importing country governments that these changes have been possible under ESCAS.
As a result of RD&E mortality rates within the industry have declined substantially over time.
The mortality rates of sheep exported by sea in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s were approximately 2-3%. In 2013, the mortality rate for sheep exports was 0.74%, and since 2003 mortality rates of exported sheep have not risen above 1%.
The mortality rates of cattle exported sea have historically been very low. Since 1995 the total annual mortality rate has varied between 0.1% - 0.42% and the 2013 mortality rate was 0.11%.
Livestock Export Mortality Rates (1996-2015)
To ensure continuous improvement in animal welfare within the livestock export industry, exporters must report on the outcomes of each voyage (including mortalities) to the Australian Government. The combined data on voyage outcomes are reported to the Australian parliament on a six monthly basis. If mortalities exceed legislated levels, a comprehensive investigation is undertaken and conditions may be placed on future shipments to mitigate risks. Further information on livestock export mortalities can be accessed here.