Cattle and buffalo exports by sea

Review of heat and cold stress in Bos taurus cattle

We commenced a Review of heat and cold stress in Bos taurus cattle from southern Australia during long haul export by sea in April 2020. This is part of our commitment to improve animal welfare during export. It aligns with our responsibilities as a regulator. This is the first in a series of projects we will undertake to review cattle and buffalo exports by sea.

Issues relating to temperature stress in cattle and buffalo exports by sea were identified in the 2018 Technical Advisory Committee review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL). The Independent Observer (IO) voyage reports and stakeholders have raised similar issues.

About the review

The preliminary work undertaken for this review has included:

  • voyage data analysis
  • IO voyage report analysis
  • a literature review
  • targeted stakeholder consultation
  • appointment of an independent technical expert group.

Our next steps are:

  1. assessment of initial stakeholder input, relevant data and information
  2. preparation of a draft technical report
  3. the independent technical expert group will review the draft report
  4. formal stakeholder consultation on the draft report later in 2021
  5. publication of the final report online after further review by the expert group and due consideration of all feedback.

We will use the report’s findings to work with industry on enhancing the welfare of cattle. This is specific to long haul exports from southern Australia.

Future cattle and buffalo export review projects

We will announce future projects examining cattle and buffalo exports by sea as each is initiated. We will provide updates as they progress.

About the technical expert group

We have appointed an independent technical expert group. They will review the draft report before stakeholder consultation. They will also review the final report before publication. The expert group will provide transparent feedback to us. This ensures we have considered all issues and any recommendations in the report. We will publish their relevant feedback.

The expert group consists of Professor Andrew Fisher, Associate Professor Anne Barnes and Dr Hugh Millar.

Professor Andrew Fisher

Director, Animal Welfare Science Centre, University of Melbourne

Professor Andrew Fisher joined the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Melbourne in 2009 and holds the position of Chair of Cattle and Sheep Production Medicine. Andrew has significant experience in the area of animal welfare, with a particular focus on production animal management and transport. His career spans 25 years in farm animal welfare and veterinary science. Andrew was on the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) writing group for the development of international beef cattle standards, including chairing its final meeting. He was also on the writing group for the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock, and the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep. He was on the reference group for the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle. Formerly head of CSIRO’s livestock welfare research group, he was part of a team of scientists and engineers reviewing the live export ‘HotStuff V4.0’ model in 2008. Professor Fisher has published over 90 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 10 book chapters and one book.

Associate Professor Anne Barnes

School of Veterinary Medicine, Murdoch University

Anne Barnes is Associate Professor in Theriogenology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Murdoch University. Coming from rural Queensland, she graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Queensland, and has a long history of veterinary clinical and research work with large animals, with a particular focus on production animal industry-relevant research related to health, welfare and behaviour. She has been heavily involved in LiveCorp-funded research on thermal physiology, welfare and behaviour relevant to the live export industry, with projects investigating the effects of heat on cattle and sheep, developing Qualitative Behavioural Assessment of livestock, and on the Welfare Indicators project. Anne is thus well positioned to integrate research on animal physiology, health, behaviour and welfare—particularly as related to the live export industry.

Dr Hugh Millar

Animal Health and Welfare Expert

Hugh Millar is a distinguished veterinarian who has worked extensively in the public sector at state and federal levels for over 35 years. Dr Millar has contributed his animal health and welfare expertise to improve biosecurity, product integrity, veterinary public health, animal health and disease control and animal welfare in his previous roles as Chief Veterinary Officer of Victoria, and Executive Director of Biosecurity Victoria. Dr Millar was recognised for his outstanding contributions as Chief Veterinary Officer with a Public Service Medal in 2011.

Dr Millar served on the Board of Examiners for the National Veterinary Examination Board and the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board for over a decade. He recently reviewed and updated the National Standards for the Operation of Saleyards, and was until recently a member of both the Safemeat Initiatives Review Implementation Steering Committee and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory Strategic Policy Group.  Dr Millar was a member of the Technical Advisory Committee that recently assisted the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment with the review of the Australian Standards for Livestock Export, in his capacity as an animal health and welfare expert.

Last reviewed: 24 February 2021
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