IN THE NEWS: Live exports: Cattle mortality rate costs ship ticket

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IN THE NEWS: On SEP 14, 2017

A LIVE export ship had its certification revoked after almost 100 cattle died on its maiden voyage.

The South East Asian Livestock Services vessel was en route to Malaysia and Brunei, from Darwin when the deaths occurred in April.

Documents tabled in Parliament last week show that of the 1236 cattle on board, 95 deaths were recorded, and 90 cattle were euthanased — a mortality rate of 7.69 per cent, well above the 0.5 per cent legal threshold for trips of less than 10 days’ duration.

The breach caused the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to revoke the vessel’s certification to carry livestock.

Both AMSA and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources are investigating the case.

A Department spokesman said its investigation was in the final stages.

South East Asian Livestock Services did not respond to a request for comment.

An Australian Livestock Exporters Council spokesman said on-board losses were “always regrettable” and the council supported the Government’s independent reporting requirements.

The spokesman said, according to an Australian Farm Institute study released last year, mortality rates during ocean transport have declined and are now comparable with or below normal on-farm rates.

Animals Australia chief executive Glenys Oogjes said even the little known so far of this case “gives some insight into the obvious pain and suffering of cattle unable to keep their feet due to unsuitable flooring”.

We have seen similar in previous shipments where cattle go down and are unable to rise, often developing open wounds, septicaemia and respiratory disease,” Ms Oogjes said.

Between January and July this year, the 131 live export voyages recorded carried 444,968 cattle, 776,471 sheep and 703 buffalo. There were 552 cattle deaths, 3839 sheep deaths and no buffalo deaths.

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