Investigations into mortalities

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Australian standards for the export of livestock (ASEL) defines a reportable mortality level by species on a voyage or air journey as, the percentages listed below or 3 animals, whichever is the greater number of animals

  • Sheep and goats: 2%​​​
  • Cattle and buffalo on a voyage less than 10 days: 0.5%​​​
  • Cattle and buffalo on a voyage more than 10 days: 1%
  • Camelids: 2%
  • Deer: 2%

The on-​board stockman or Australian Government Accredited Veterinarian, if one accompanies the voyage, must immediately report a reportable mortality level to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The department undertakes an investigation into livestock reportable mortality incidents to try to determine the cause of the mortalities and suggest future corrective action.

Summaries of the department's mortality investigations

In order to improve the transparency of the live export trade, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources​ with the agreement of the Live Export Industry Consultative Committee, have undertaken to report on investigations conducted of consignments with reportable mortality events.

A voyage may include multiple consignments. Actions taken by a delegate of the Secretary for voyages exported by sea that record mortalities above the reportable level are reported on in a six-monthly report to Parliament.

[expand all]

Consignment 56. Cattle exported by sea to Japan in January 2015

Licence
Number

Export
Date

Species

Consignment
mortality
level

Reportable
mortality
level

Total voyage
mortality
level

L599

January 2015

Cattle

5
(1.19%)

1.0%

1.19%

View the consignment 56 report in detail – Cattle exported by sea to Japan in January 2015.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found respiratory disease and injuries sustained as a result of very rough weather during the voyage were the main factors contributing to the mortalities.

Actions

The department applied the following conditions to the exporter’s next consignment to Japan:

  1. An AAV accompanied the consignment to report on the health and welfare of the livestock.
  2. Cattle were vaccinated according to the manufacturer’s recommendation with a vaccine against Mannheimia haemolytica and Bovine Herpes Virus Type 1 (to protect against Bovine Respiratory Disease and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis Virus).

Since then the department has also applied conditions to include bedding (sawdust) on consignments of cattle exported from Brisbane to Japan and have continued to require vaccination against Mannheimia haemolytica and Bovine Herpes Virus Type 1 (to protect against Bovine Respiratory Disease and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis Virus).

Consignment 54. Cattle exported by sea to the Philippiines in October 2014

Licence
Number

Export
Date

Species

Consignment
mortality
level

Reportable
mortality
level

Total voyage
mortality
level

L028

October 2014

Cattle

53
(2.09%)

0.50%

2.09%

View the consignment 54 report in detail – Cattle exported by sea to Philippines in October 2014.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found that the main cause of mortality was bovine respiratory disease.

Actions

The department required an AAV to accompany the next consignment by this exporter using the same vessel.

The result of the voyage was a mortality rate of 0.21% (5 out of 2371 cattle loaded).

Consignment 53. Sheep exported by air to Singapore in October 2014

Licence
Number

Export
Date

Species

Consignment
mortality
level

Reportable
mortality
level

Total voyage
mortality
level

L233

October 2014

Sheep

174
(7.90%)

2.0%

7.90%

View the consignment 53 report in detail – Sheep exported by air to Singapore in October 2014.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found that the airline’s explanation of inadequate ventilation due to an underperforming air conditioning pack is the most likely cause of the mortalities.

Actions

The airline undertook several action in response to this incident including:

  • Changing several components of the air conditioning pack.
  • Adding additional checks to the climate control system before clearance of the aircraft for livestock transport.
  • Providing extra briefing to the crew about monitoring the environmental control system when transporting livestock.

As of 16 April 2015 and after resuming carriage of livestock no further mortalities or other issues have been reported on this aircraft.

Consignment 52. Cattle exported by sea to China February 2014

Licence
Number

Export
Date

Species

Consignment
mortality
level

Reportable
mortality
level

Total voyage
mortality
level

L518

February 2014

Cattle

49
(2.04%)

1%

2.04%

View the consignment 52 report in detail – Cattle exported by sea to China in February 2014.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found that the main cause of mortality was euthanasia due to injuries sustained as a result of bad weather during the voyage.

Actions

The department required an AAV to accompany the next consignment by this exporter. There were no mortalities reported on this voyage.

Consignment 51. Cattle and sheep exported to Israel and Jordan in January 2014


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L500January 2014

Cattle

165
(2.75%)

1.0%2.75%
  Sheep

1654
(3.89%)

2%3.89%

View the consignment 51 report in detail – Cattle and sheep exported to Israel and Jordan in January 2014.

Investigation Conclusions

During the voyage, the ship experienced mechanical failure, which slowed its progress and significantly extended the length of the voyage. Subsequent to this additional fodder was required en route.

The investigation determined the cause of the majority of mortalities was ruminal acidosis as the result of a sudden change in fodder.

Actions

The department required the exporter to load an additional seven days of fodder (four days in addition to ASEL requirements) on the next voyage of this vessel longer than 10 days.

The exporter has undertaken the following action in response to this incident:

  • Adding reference to this incident to the  their operations and governance manual
  • Developing procedures to match the composition of fodder on board with any fodder loaded onto the vessel en route.

Consignment 50. Cattle exported by sea to Vietnam in January 2014


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L333January 2014Cattle

49
(3.52%)

1%3.52%

View the consignment 50 report in detail – Cattle exported by sea to Vietnam in January 2014.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found that the main cause of mortality was euthanasia due to injuries sustained as a result of bad weather during the voyage.

Actions

The department approved a subsequent consignment in which the exporter voluntarily implemented the following additional conditions:

  • an additional 10 ton of sawdust loaded
  • additional antibiotics, eye ointments and anti-inflammatory drugs loaded

The result of the voyage was a mortality rate of 0.14% (2 out of 1388 cattle loaded).

Consignment 49. Sheep exported by air to Malaysia in November 2013


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L520November 2013Sheep

44
(39.3%)

2%39.3%

View the consignment 49 report in detail – Sheep exported by air to Malaysia in November 2013.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found that the airline’s explanation of inadequate ventilation in the forward cargo hold due to an intermittent defect is the most likely cause of the mortalities.

Actions

The department approved subsequent consignments subject to the following additional conditions:

  • written confirmation from the aircraft operator that the cargo hold has a suitable Environmental Control System for the shipment being tendered for carriage and
  • that animals are exported using two double tiered crates and two single tiered crates only.
As of 24 December 2013 seven consignments have been exported with no mortalities reported.

Consignment 48. Cattle exported by air to Kazakhstan in October 2013


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L363October 2013Cattle

49
(15.3%)

0.5%15.3%

View the consignment 48 report in detail – Cattle exported by air to Kazakhstan in October 2013.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found that inadequate ventilation within the double crates is the most likely cause of the mortalities.

Actions

Immediately following this incident the department required the following:

  • Full freighter consignments of cattle (i.e. entire cargo) to be exported using single tiered crates only.

The exporter resumed exports of cattle to Kazakhstan by air and as of 30 November 2013, they had completed four consignments of 1165 cattle with no mortalities reported.

From 30 November 2013 the department has required the preparation of an Air Risk Management Plan for exporters using double tier crates to export cattle. Between 30 November 2013 and 31 January 2014 480 cattle have been exported by air to various destinations with no mortalities.

Consignment 47. Cattle exported by air to China in September 2013


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L604September 2013Cattle

18
(6.45%)

0.5%6.45%

View the consignment 47 report in detail – Cattle exported by air to China in September 2013.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation found that a definitive cause of the mortalities could not be determined, but from the information available, inadequate ventilation in the region of two crates caused increased temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and ammonia levels is suspected as the most likely cause of the mortalities.

Actions

Following this incident the exporter has not exported any animals.

Consignment 46. Adelaide and Fremantle to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L363August 2013Sheep

3,256
(7.28%)

923
(3.00%)

2%5.53%

*Two consignments on one vessel

View the consignment 46 report – Adelaide and Fremantle to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Investigation Conclusions

The main cause of mortalities was heat stress, accounting for 97% of mortalities. Mortalities spiked on day 21 when the vessel encountered extreme weather conditions.

Actions

The department approved the subsequent consignment which departed Australia in November 2013 subject to a condition that the sheep be provided with 10% additional space over minimum requirements. The result for the consignment was 182 mortalities out of 77,095 sheep loaded, a mortality rate of 0.24%. The Australian Government Accredited Veterinarian reported that there was no evidence of heat stress during the voyage.

Consignment 45. Cattle exported by sea to Japan in May 2013


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L007May 2013Cattle

18
(1.43%)

1%1.18%

View the consignment 45 report in detail – Cattle exported by sea to Japan in May 2013.

Investigation Conclusions

No definitive cause for the mortalities could be determined. A combination of bovine respiratory disease (BRD), cool weather before export resulting in poor acclimatisation to the high temperature and humidity during the voyage and rough shipping conditions may have contributed to the mortalities.

Actions

The department applied conditions to the exporter’s next consignment to Japan, including that an Australian Accredited Veterinarian accompany the consignment to report on the health and welfare of the livestock, and that the cattle be provided with an additional 10% space above that required by the ASEL. Cattle were also required to be vaccinated according to the manufacturer’s recommendation with a vaccine against Mannheimia haemolytica (to protect against BRD).

This consignment departed Brisbane on 3 July 2013. Four mortalities occurred during the voyage (mortality rate 0.36%).

Consignment 44. Brisbane to Japan


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L599January 2013Cattle7
(1.79%)
1%0.99%

View the consignment 44. Brisbane to Japan report in detail..

Investigation Conclusions

None of the cattle that died were identified as being sick or injured prior to death. High temperature and humidity from the start of the voyage resulting in heat stress may have contributed to some of the mortalities.

Actions

The department applied conditions to the exporter’s next consignment to Japan. This consignment departed Brisbane on 10 February 2013. No mortalities occurred during the voyage. Subsequent to the mortality incident, the owners of the ship also improved the vessel’s ventilation system to address areas of poor air flow.

Consignment 43. Brisbane to Japan


Licence
Number
Export
Date
SpeciesConsignment
mortality
level
Reportable
mortality
level
Total voyage
mortality
level
L599March 2012Cattle7
(1.17%)
1%0.89%

View the consignment 43. Brisbane to Japan report in detail.

Investigation Conclusions

No definitive cause for the mortalities. High temperature and humidity developed from the start of the voyage causing heat stress, which may have contributed to some of the mortalities.

Actions

The department applied conditions to the exporter’s next consignment to Japan. This consignment departed Brisbane on 18 May 2012.

No mortalities occurred during the voyage.

Licence
Number

Export
Date

Species

Consignment
mortality
level

Reportable
mortality
level

Total voyage
mortality
level

L006

August
2010

Sheep

1407
(2.04%)

2%

2.04%

L233

February
2008

Cattle

15
(0.85%)

0.5%

0.84%

L500

May
2007

Sheep

622
(4.16%)

2%

1.88%

L203

January
2006

Goats

51
(3.04%)

2%

3.04%

​ ​​​ ​​​ ​​​​​​​
Last reviewed:
26 Feb 2016