Compliance Investigation Report 11(b): Sheep and goats exported to Malaysia in May 2013

​Summary

On 3 May 2013, the Department of Agriculture received a complaint from Animals Australia alleging non-compliance with Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements in Malaysia. On 6 May 2013, videos and photographs of sheep and goats were provided that Animals Australia advised were taken between 15 and 17 April 2013 at six farms in Malaysia.

The allegations were that Australian sheep and goats exported under ESCAS arrangements had moved outside of an approved supply chain/s to four locations not included in an approved ESCAS. The complainant also alleged Australian goats had been offered for private sale and had not been handled in accordance with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards at two locations included in an approved ESCAS.

The department determined there is evidence of non compliance with OIE animal welfare recommendations for goats, at two farms within an approved ESCAS supply chain for Capricorn Pastoral. However it could not be confirmed that the livestock seen were exported under ESCAS requirements. The assessment also determined that there was possible movement of livestock outside of an approved supply chain, but again could not confirm that livestock seen were exported under ESCAS requirements.

Additional requirements to strengthen control and traceability were put in place for consignments of sheep and goats exported by Capricorn to their supply chain in Malaysia, from the time the department received the complaint until the completion of the investigation. In addition, the exporter has removed the two farms that showed non-compliance with OIE animal welfare recommendations from their approved supply chain.

Introduction

On 3 May 2013, the Department of Agriculture (the department) received a complaint from Animals Australia alleging non compliance with ESCAS arrangements in Malaysia. The allegations were that Australian sheep and goats exported under ESCAS arrangements had moved outside of approved supply chains to four locations not included in an approved ESCAS. Animals Australia also alleged Australian goats had been offered for private sale and had not been handled in accordance with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards at two locations included in an approved ESCAS.

The material provided included photographs and videos of sheep and goats that Animals Australia said were taken between 15 and 17 April 2013 at six farms in Malaysia.

Australia has a well established history of export of slaughter sheep and goats to Malaysia both before and after the implementation of ESCAS requirements. Between 2010 and 2013, Australia exported 345,534 sheep and goats to Malaysia (315,505 for slaughter and 30,029 for breeding). The trade in breeder livestock means that there are potentially Malaysian-born livestock that resemble those born in Australia. Breeder livestock may also remain alive in Malaysia for a longer amount of time after export.

Conduct of the Investigation

On receipt of the allegation, the department assessed the information to determine if there was evidence supporting the allegations of non-compliance with regulatory requirements. The initial assessment supported the complaint and a formal investigation was commenced.

ESCAS requirements for feeder and slaughter livestock exported to Malaysia took effect from 1 September 2012.

The focus of the investigation was to determine:

  1. If the photographs and videos were taken in the locations on the dates alleged by Animals Australia
  2. If any sheep/goats shown in the photographs and videos were exported from Australia under ESCAS arrangements (that is, after 1 September 2012) and if so, can the exporter be identified
  3. If the handling of goats shown in the videos provided by Animals Australia was consistent with the OIE animal welfare recommendations as set out in the ESCAS checklist.

The department determined that six exporters had received approval to export sheep and/or goats to Malaysia under ESCAS requirements. These exporters were the subject of the investigation.

The department’s investigation included assessment of the information provided by Animals Australia, departmental records of export consignments, information provided by the six exporters involved in exports of Australian sheep and goats to Malaysia, and information collected independently by the department.

Investigation Findings

The department reviewed records of all feeder and slaughter sheep and goats exported to Malaysia since ESCAS requirements took effect for that country on 1 September 2012. The records showed that 99 consignments of sheep and goats had been exported to Malaysia between 1 September 2012 and 17 April 2013 by six exporters, to eight supply chains in Malaysia.

These exporters were Capricorn Pastoral (Capricorn), International Livestock Export Pty Ltd (ILE), Independent Livestock Services Pty Ltd (ILS), Lembiru Livestock Pty Ltd (Lembiru), P & D Exports Pty Ltd (P & D) and Stockair. A summary of the consignments and supply chains is shown below in Table 1.

The exporters were provided with access to the videos and photographs and provided information about the complaint.

Table 1 Summary of consignments of slaughter sheep and goats exported to Malaysia between 1 September 2012 and 17 April 2013
Exporter

ESCAS Consignments of sheep and/or goats exported to Malaysia prior to date of complaint

Sheep

Goats

Capricorn

5

1875

6197

ILS

37

3628

0

ILE

2

2304

0

Lembiru

14

2542

10301

P & D

23

2115

10581

StockAir

4

1484

5028

Total

85

13948

32107

Identification of the facilities seen in the videos:

The investigation concluded that the video was taken on the dates alleged by Animals Australia. Four of the farms were not able to be identified as being part of an ESCAS approved supply chain in Malaysia, and livestock seen at them could not be confirmed to have been exported under ESCAS requirements.

Capricorn identified the other two facilities and confirmed they were part of their approved supply chain. These two facilities had also been included in an approved supply chain for another exporter, Stockair. However, Stockair had voluntarily cancelled their livestock export licence in April 2013, prior to the allegations and were no longer exporting livestock from Australia. In addition, they had advised that all livestock exported by them had been slaughtered prior to the time the videos were taken. None of the other four exporters of sheep and goats to Malaysia had either of these facilities included in their approved supply chains and were ruled out of further investigation in relation to those facilities.

Identification of the source of sheep and goats seen in the videos:

In addition to breeder livestock that may have been exported from Australia (which are not subject to ESCAS regulation) and their progeny bred in Malaysia, it is possible that Australian slaughter livestock exported prior to the implementation of ESCAS in Malaysia were also present in many farms throughout the country at the time that the video was taken.

Sheep and goats exported from Australia have been required to have a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) ear tag that includes the Property Identification Code (PIC), since implementation of the NLIS for sheep and goats in January 2006. The PIC is an eight digit alphanumeric code that is registered to the property of origin. Western Australian producers may also use NLIS tags imprinted with the producer’s brand, a three digit alphanumeric code registered to the property. The PIC or brand does not individually identify the sheep or goat.

For each consignment of sheep exported, the department receives a list of the properties that the sheep or goats originate from. The investigation reviewed property of origin lists to determine if any of the ear tags that were visible in the photographs provided by Animals Australia were included on the lists.

Sheep

The investigation concluded that it is likely that some of the sheep in the photographs and videos were of Australian origin. This conclusion was based on the breed of the sheep, the presence of holes in their ears where tags have been removed and ear notching consistent with Australian identification systems. The department also notes however, it is possible the sheep were the progeny of Australian breeder sheep previously exported to Malaysia and therefore may not have been exported from Australia.

Due to the absence of Australian NLIS tags on sheep in the photographs and videos, the presence of breeder sheep and their progeny bred in Malaysia, and the possibility that the sheep were sheep exported to Malaysia prior to implementation of ESCAS requirements, there is no substantial evidence to confirm the sheep in the videos were exported under ESCAS requirements.

Goats

The investigation found some of the goats in the photographs and videos were of Australian origin. A number of the goats were able to be traced to their property of origin in Australia by a readable Property Identification Code (PIC) on the NLIS tag.

Two of the PIC codes were present on PIC lists for consignments exported to Malaysia after ESCAS implementation. The department reviewed PIC lists for 25 consignments of goats that were exported to Malaysia prior to ESCAS implementation. One of the two PICs was identified in a PIC list for a consignment of goats exported prior to ESCAS implementation. While the second PIC was not identified in the PIC lists that were checked, the possibility that the goat was exported prior to ESCAS implementation could not be excluded.

Based on the department’s assessment of the goats shown in the photographs and videos including the breed and the PIC on some ear tags, the investigation concluded that some of the goats were exported by Capricorn, or Stockair. However, the investigation was not able to confirm if they were exported before or after implementation of ESCAS for exports to Malaysia.

Assessment of alleged animal welfare non-compliances

The complaint from Animals Australia included 20 video files. These included a total of 43 minutes of video of sheep and goats in pens at farms and a total of 4 minutes of video of handling of goats at two farms which were later identified as being included in an approved ESCAS supply chain.

The department’s animal welfare experts reviewed the videos of goat handling against the ESCAS checklist, to determine if there is compliance with OIE animal welfare recommendations (performance measures and targets are available on the department’s website). The assessment determined that the handling shown in the videos did not comply with several points of the sheep and goat ESCAS checklist. The handling non compliances are summarised in Table 2.

Table 2 - Summary of non-compliances identified during Department of Agriculture animal welfare assessment for videos of goat handling and slaughter against ESCAS checklist

Animal welfare performance measure or target

Assessment

1.8 - Animals are handled to avoid harm, distress or injury.

At two facilities within an approved ESCAS and one that is not in supply chain, goats are seen to be handled in a manner that causes distress including being moved solely by holding their horns and being moved by means of a rope tied around their neck.

2.5 - The vehicles are suitable for transporting livestock of the class involved and for the distance required.

At one facility within an approved supply chain, a goat is seen to be tied up and placed in a sack before being placed into the boot of a car for transport, which is not a suitable means of transportation.

4.6 – Pens, races and gates are free from protrusions and sharp edges that can injure animals;
and
4.7 – The design and flooring of passageways and races allows for calm and effective animal movement

At a facility not within an approved supply chain, goats are seen within a pen which has broken/missing floor slats, which pose a risk of leg injury or entrapment for livestock.

4.14 – The sick or injured animals are humanely disposed of or segregated and treated appropriately.

At one facility not within an approved supply chain, a goat is seen with an injured eye. The injury appears to be an old one and there are no signs of any treatment for the injury.
At another facility not within an approved supply chain, a goat is visible with its head stuck through rails by its horns. No assistance is provided to the goat.

While the videos shows non-compliances with OIE animal welfare recommendations for handling at two facilities and transport within an approved ESCAS supply chain, it could not be confirmed that the sheep or goats in the video were exported under ESCAS requirements, and so no non-compliances with ESCAS requirements have been recorded.

Assessment of alleged control and traceability non-compliances

The videos provided showed a goat being loaded into the boot of a car at an approved ESCAS supply chain facility and later released at a second location. It was not possible to say if this second location was an approved supply chain facility or not. The videos also showed sheep and goats at facilities that were not part of an approved ESCAS supply chain. However, as the animals could not be confirmed to have been exported under ESCAS, and the location that the goat was moved to is not identifiable, this could not be confirmed as movement of animals outside of a supply chain.

Investigation Conclusions

The investigation concluded animal handling practices at two approved supply chain farms did not comply with OIE animal welfare recommendations.

While the investigation determined it is likely that the goats and sheep were of Australian origin it could not be confirmed whether they were exported before or after ESCAS requirements were implemented for livestock exported to Malaysia. The investigation also could not exclude that they were progeny of Australian livestock that had been exported to Malaysia for breeding purposes. Therefore, no non-compliances were recorded against any of the exporters in this investigation.

Actions Taken by Exporters

One exporter, Capricorn, identified that two of the facilities seen in the photographs and video were included in one of their approved supply chains in Malaysia. Capricorn elected to remove these facilities for future consignments pending further investigation. Capricorn also took additional steps for the remaining facilities in the affected supply chain including:

  • sending a representative to all supply chain facilities and performing an internal audit of facilities
  • implementing a system where weekly reporting on the supply chain is to be passed back to the exporter
  • arranging further training by MLA for supply chain staff.

At the time of publication of this report, the two facilities have not been included in an approved supply chain for consignments of livestock exported to Malaysia since May 2013.

Regulatory Actions Taken

During the course of the investigation, Capricorn applied for further approvals to export sheep to their Malaysia supply chain. After taking the exporters’ ESCAS submissions into account, and having considered the information provided by Animals Australia, the information provided by the exporters and the information collected by the department, the department decided to approve each ESCAS subject to additional requirements including:

No later than the 20th day of each month for the next 3 months or until there are no animals remaining in the supply chain, the exporter must provide the Department of Agriculture with:

  1. A description of the live-stock reconciliation activities carried out during the preceding month and;
  2. A declaration from a person in management control for Capricorn Pastoral stating whether or not the goats and sheep exported from Australia remained within the approved supply chain up to the point of slaughter.

The department has not received any further applications to export livestock to supply chains that include the farms that had poor animal handling practices. In the event that the department received such an application, the outcomes of this investigation would be considered relevant information when deciding whether to approve an application and whether or not to apply additional conditions to the application.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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