The RSPCA welcomes the proposal to halt live sheep exports until the current government review is concluded.
The recent and indisputable evidence shows Australian sheep are being subjected to an unacceptable degree of risk and suffering.
A reasonable immediate response is to stop all live sheep shipments to ensure no further animals are sent into these horrifically cruel conditions.
It is simply not acceptable that the Department of Agriculture continues to grant export permits with full knowledge of the dire animal welfare consequences that the current standards present.
RSPCA Australia also welcomes Minister Littleproud’s assurances that future decisions around the trade will be based on scientific evidence.
The only way to avoid these circumstances in the immediate future is then to halve the stocking density of live sheep shipments, and stop all live sheep exports between May and October during the intense heat of the Middle Eastern summer.
These are the clear facts, backed by scientific evidence, and the RSPCA therefore expects the findings of the government review to reflect these facts.
For the period from May to October, the average number of voyages/year is less than 17 and the average number of sheep exported is just under 1 million at 959,768.
Yet 70% of all sheep mortalities in the past five years occur during this time. During this period, when animals travel from the Australian winter into the furnace of the Middle Eastern summer, around 43,321 sheep have died in the past five years.
Current standards require that sheep must all be able to lie down and easily access food and water; but this is impossible under the current standard stocking density, which crams sheep in at three animals per square metre.
The scientific evidence shows the outcomes of the Australian Standards will only be achievable with at least a 50% reduction in stocking density.
The focus of all our effort must be on phasing out the live sheep trade, and this includes appropriate adjustment packages for farmers.