Vet says live export is good for animal welfare


Sir – I am a cattle veterinarian in the Northern Territory.
Though I was horrified by the latest footage of cruelty in Gaza, I believe that live export is vital for animal welfare in the north.
Live export is the only market that pays farmers enough money to allow them to do animal husbandry that saves lives.  Without it hundreds of thousands of cattle will die horribly across north Australia.
Last year, Australia live exported 2.7 million animals worth $790 million.
Live export cannot be replaced by frozen meat from Australia because1.5 billion people worldwide have no electric power and hence no refrigeration.
These people kill, distribute and eat an animal within a day. The Australian live export market feeds these people.
Australia is the only live exporting country in the world that provides training and equipment in developing countries.
This allows them to kill both imported and local animals humanely.  If we pull out of these countries, millions more animals will be killed inhumanely.
Regrettably, due to the huge numbers being live exported, there will always be a small number of cases of cruelty to our animals, as no system can be 100% perfect.
Dr. Gehan Jayawardhana
BVSc., MACVS (Epidemiology), Grad. Cert . Rur.Sci. (Genetics), Grad.Cert.Pub.Sect.Mgmt.
Leanyer, NT


  1. Thank you for an informed and rational contribution to the discussion about this issue, Dr. Gehan Jayawardhana.
    One question: would not many of the 1.5 billion people who do not have electricity in their homes nonetheless have access to shops and traders who do have access to electricity, and thus to refrigeration, where frozen or freshly butchered meat awaiting sale may be stored?

  2. The Middle East is the biggest world market for live exports and refrigeration is universal, Indonesia is our biggest market and there is more than 50% refrigeration and rapidly growing.
    Supermarkets offering chilled meats are springing up everywhere in Indonesia. Much of that meat comes from out live trade with Indonesia reaping the added value of processing. That added value is 20% and many jobs, effectively we are exporting jobs.
    We are not at all the only country providing training, the EU does as well as many NGOs.
    What we need is more abattoirs, cattle producers could double their pre-tax income and some 1,300 jobs would be created if they had access to an abattoir.

  3. Bob: Many of those countries have intermittent electricity with periods of no power daily, for even the better off people. The rich do have refrigerated supermarkets but they aren’t common.
    The average people buy meat from wet markets with no electricity.
    A freshly killed carcass (or half sometimes) is brought there in an unrefrigerated vehicle at dawn and is sold in a meal sized chunk before lunch time. It is then diced, cooked in a soup or curry and eaten that day.
    In Indonesia much of the beef, of live exported cattle, is minced, mixed with tapioca flour and manufactured into “bakso balls” which are eaten in a soup that night.


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