RSPCA Australia holds fears for the welfare of about 5000 Western Australian sheep that were exported live at the weekend, after being off-loaded from the Wellard vessel MV Ocean Outback last month.
Western Australian live exporter Wellard has confirmed about 5000 of the 7500 sheep initially off-loaded from the vessel have been re-sold and shipped overseas.
The company said processing of the remaining 2600 sheep would be done at its Beaufort River Meats abattoir over the next two weeks. All sheep are in excellent condition, the company said.
However, despite an RSPCA call for all the sheep to be processed in Australia, it is believed about 5000 of the sheep were sold to live exporter Livestock Shipping Services and shipped to the Middle East on the MV Ghena at the weekend.
When the vessel suffered an engine breakdown in December last year, the company said the 7500 sheep off-loaded into its quarantine feedlot at Baldivis would be processed at the Beaufort River Meats abattoir near Kojonup.
RSPCA Australia said it was deeply disappointed that Wellard had extended the suffering of 4800 sheep offloaded last month from the “Ocean Outback” by on-selling them for live export.
This contradicts Wellard’s statement on January 25 that ‘the 7,500 sheep from the vessel are currently under quarantine in Wellard’s modern feedlot and will be processed in a Western Australia export accredited abattoir’, RSPCA Australia said.
“RSPCA Australia is concerned that the destination of the sheep has not been identified, but hold fears for their welfare, following reports that the sheep were sold to Livestock Shipping Services.
“LSS has been the subject of numerous investigations for non-compliance with ESCAS,” the animal welfare body said in a statement.
Wellard has refused to disclose the buyer of the exported sheep “for commercial reasons,” but said they were shipped after independent inspections and approvals from a farmer representative, a Federal Department of Agriculture veterinarian, an independent veterinarian from Murdoch University and Wellard’s own specialist live export staff.
Wellard chief executive officer Mauro Balzarini said it was the company’s intention and preference to process all of the sheep in Western Australia.
“Unfortunately that couldn’t be achieved with the heavier sheep that our own abattoir could not process,” said.
“The sheep are in excellent condition,” he said.
“From the moment they landed in pre-export quarantine they have been properly looked after under government supervision fit and healthy.”
WA Farmers leader happy that Wellard sheep sold for live export
WA Farmers president and Badgingarra livestock farmer Dale Park inspected the sheep last Monday prior to export. WA Farmers initially had bio-security and animal welfare concerns about the return of the sheep from the MV Ocean Outback.
“I inspected the sheep and couldn’t fault them.
“And I’m happy that they have gone now,” he said.
“The feed pellets they have been eating 24 hours a day at the pre-export quarantine facility for the past month combined with access to fresh water and shade has given them a head-start on sheep being sourced from the paddock.
“They were putting on weight the whole time they were there, and they were looking on absolutely great nic,” he said.
“RSPCA’s mandate is almost purely animal welfare whereas we’ve got a slightly bigger c0ncern in that we are worried about bio-security as well.
“If they are only worried about animal welfare they should not have a qualm about any of the conditions that these animals were kept under.”
Source: Wellard, WA Farmers, RSPCA.