Compliance Investigation Reports 15 and 16: Sheep and Cattle Exported to Israel - January 2014

​Summary

On 28 June and 2 July 2013, the Department of Agriculture received two complaints from Animals Australia alleging non-compliance with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) welfare outcomes, as required by ESCAS, during the unloading of two vessels in Israel.

The first complaint concerned unloading of sheep and cattle from the Ocean Drover at the Port of Eilat in Israel on 18-19 May 2013. The second complaint concerned the unloading of sheep and cattle from the Bader III at the Port of Eilat in Israel on 16-17 June 2013. Both were supported by video footage that was provided to Animals Australia from a third party.

The department’s investigation included assessment of information provided by Animals Australia, departmental records of export consignments, information provided by the two exporters and information collected independently by the department.

The department determined that there was evidence of non-compliance with the ESCAS ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Cattle and Buffalo’ and ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Sheep and Goats’ during the unloading of the Bader III and Ocean Drover.

The department implemented the following requirements for unloading of livestock vessels in Israel:

  • Australian Government Accredited Vet (AAV) to be responsible to ensure that all of the discharge from the vessel is supervised (by the AAV or a stockman).
  • AAV to complete a detailed report on animal handling at discharge in the End of Voyage (EOV) report which is to be supplied to the department.

1. The Complaints

Two separate Animals Australia complaints were received by the Department of Agriculture (the department) about poor animal handling during unloading at the Port of Eilat, Israel. The first complaint received on 28 June 2013 included video footage of the unloading of sheep and cattle from the Ocean Drover at the Port of Eilat in Israel on 18-19 May 2013.

The second complaint was received on 2 July 2013 and included video footage of the unloading of sheep and cattle from the Bader III at the Port of Eilat in Israel on 16-17 June 2013.

2. Conduct of the Investigation

On receipt of the complaints from Animals Australia, the department assessed the video footage and commenced a formal investigation.

The focus of the investigation was to determine if the handling of sheep and cattle shown in the video footage was consistent with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare requirements as set out in the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) animal welfare checklists for cattle and buffalo, and sheep and goats.

Wellard Rural Exporters Pty Ltd (Wellard) exported 8,819 feeder sheep and 1,375 feeder cattle to Israel on the Ocean Drover, which completed unloading at the Port of Eilat on 19 May 2013. The unloading of the Ocean Drover took approximately 19 hours; the department received approximately 19 minutes of footage which was edited to show specific incidents.

Livestock Shipping Services Pty Ltd (LSS) exported 9,878 feeder cattle, 11,536 slaughter sheep and 15,500 feeder sheep on the Bader III, which completed unloading at the Port of Eilat on 18 June 2013.

On 29 July 2013, the department wrote to the two exporters, requesting them to provide information relevant to the investigation.

Wellard’s response was received on 20 August 2013. Wellard acknowledged there were some awkward livestock handling techniques, however, concluded that there was no non-compliance with OIE animal welfare requirements, or the ESCAS checklists.

LSS responded on 7 August 2013 expressing concern with the alleged footage, and stated that it was not in keeping with previous ESCAS vessel discharges that have been supervised by LSS. In the letter, LSS stated that the discharge was in breach of their company’s animal handling policy and procedures.

The review of the footage by the department concluded that handling practices shown in the footage during the unloading of the Bader III and Ocean Drover did not comply with several points of the ESCAS ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Cattle and Buffalo’ and ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Sheep and Goats’ checklists. An outline of the non-compliances found is at Attachments 1 and 2.

The footage showed poor handling of livestock including kicking, punching, throwing, whipping and excessive use of flappers whilst animals were unloaded at the port in Israel. The second complaint about the unloading of the Bader III alleged excessive and unnecessary electric prodding, however, the department was unable to confirm this from the footage provided, as it is not possible to determine whether the button to activate the device was pushed or if the device was being used as a mechanical aid.

3. Actions Taken by the Exporter

Wellard advised that Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) delivered their Improved Livestock Handling Training package in Israel on the 26th - 30th August 2013. Wellard also committed to increase their supervision of discharge operations, and assist in handling and on the job training of stevedoring staff during unloading.

LSS advised the department that they have taken the following action:

  • Immediate retraining program conducted by MLA.
  • Independent audit undertaken at the next discharge for both sheep and cattle, with a focus on animal handling.
  • LSS will supervise the next discharge in cooperation with local authorities and importers.
  • Review operations at all approved facilities in the supply chain, and prepare a MLA supported training plan.

No regulatory actions were taken during the course of this investigation.

4. Regulatory Action Taken

For all consignments discharging in Israel, the department has applied the following conditions from December 2013:

  • The AAV is responsible for directly supervising or ensuring an accredited stockman directly supervises the discharge of all livestock at all ports in Israel.
  • The end of voyage report to the department must include information on the livestock handling practices employed during discharge at all ports in Israel, including who supervised and when, issues identified, and how were they managed/rectified.

The department will closely monitor the end of voyage reports and independent performance audit reports for unloading in Israel.

Attachment 1 - Ocean Drover Footage Assessment Against ESCAS Checklists

Summary of non-compliances identified during the department’s animal welfare assessment of video footage of sheep and cattle handling whilst unloading the Ocean Drover against the ESCAS ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Cattle and Buffalo’ and ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Sheep and Goats’ checklists

Animal welfare performance measure or target Assessment by the department
Element 1 - Animal Handling
1.1 Movement of livestock is carried out calmly and effectively. The footage shows that movement of livestock was not carried out calmly and effectively. Examples include workers moving into the flight zones of sheep and putting undue pressure on livestock. This was seen in the form of dragging and hitting sheep, and waving and banging of objects to move sheep and cattle.  
1.2 Staff do not try to make animals move (by moving into the flight zone) if they have nowhere to go.
1.3 If animals are already moving in the correct direction, they are never hit or have unnecessary pressure put on them
1.7 Livestock are never forced to walk over the top of other animals
1.8 Animals are handled to avoid harm, distress or injury.
1.10 Livestock are not subjected to procedures that cause pain and suffering
Element 2 – Land Transport of Livestock
2.3 Livestock are unloaded from vessel by competent stock handlers in a manner that avoids injury and minimises stress Throughout the footage, there were several instances which indicated that the stock handlers did not know correct livestock handling procedures. The stress of the animals did not appear to be minimised. From the footage, it did not appear that the sheep and cattle were being unloaded from the vessel and reloaded to a transport truck in a calm and efficient manner.
2.8 Livestock are loaded and unloaded from vehicles in a calm and efficient manner

Attachment 2 – Bader III Footage Assessment Against ESCAS Checklists

Summary of non-compliances identified during the department’s animal welfare assessment of video footage of sheep and cattle handling whilst unloading the Bader III against the ESCAS ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Cattle and Buffalo’ and ‘Guidance on Meeting OIE Code Animal Welfare Outcomes for Sheep and Goats’ checklists.

Animal welfare performance measure or target Assessment by the department
Element 1 - Animal Handling
1.1 Movement of livestock is carried out calmly and effectively. Throughout the footage, handling of sheep and cattle is shown to be ineffective and not carried out in a manner to reduce the stress of the animals. During unloading, workers were observed moving into sheep flight zones, kicking, stamping on backs, lifting, throwing and putting other unnecessary pressures on the animals.
1.2 Staff do not try to make animals move (by moving into the flight zone) if they have nowhere to go.
1.3 If animals are already moving in the correct direction, they are never hit or have unnecessary pressure put on them
1.6 All individual livestock are observed for signs of lameness, illness and injury during loading, unloading and when in facilities.
1.7 Livestock are never forced to walk over the top of other animals.
1.8 Animals are handled to avoid harm, distress or injury.
1.10 Livestock are not subjected to procedures that cause pain and suffering
Element 2 – Land Transport of Livestock
2.3 Livestock are unloaded from vessel by competent stock handlers in a manner that avoids injury and minimises stress Throughout the footage, there were instances which indicated that the stock handlers did not know correct livestock handling procedures. Examples include bunching and throwing of sheep and hitting of cattle. The manner of use of discharge ramp leads to sheep falling over and cattle jumping from top tier crate onto the race. The footage shows flaws in the livestock vehicles. This includes sufficient space between two crates for a sheep to slip off the ramp and be damaged by others behind it.
2.4 Loading and unloading facilities do not have any faults or flaws that will cause injury to the animals.
2.6 Livestock vehicles are free from faults or flaws that will allow escape or cause injury.
2.8 Livestock are loaded and unloaded from vehicles in a calm and efficient manner.
Element 3 – Feedlot/holding Facility
3.1 Livestock are loaded and unloaded from vehicle in a calm and efficient manner. The footage showed sheep being allowed to jump from the upper tier of the livestock crate without a ramp whilst sheep are being unloaded from the lower tier at the same time. Sheep are shown baulking due to possible hazard in the lower part of the truck. Cattle were also shown jumping from the top tier crate and being kicked.
4.4 The loading and unloading facilities are free of faults or flaws which will cause injury to the animals.
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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